For the third and final time, an international string group is coming to Harford County Public Schools.
"It's not one of those boring classical concerts," said Patterson Mill Orchestra Director Shane Jensen, adding, "You're just going to be amazed to see what they can do on stage."
Barrage will be hosting a concert on Thursday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. at Patterson Mill High School and will be joined by string students at Patterson Mill, as well as Fallston High School. The two-hour concert will be the group's last in a Harford County school. The ensemble is known for high energy performances that feature many modern components.
"This [will] be the last year they're actually doing school performances," Jensen said Monday.
Jensen has been working with Barrage since 2004, he said, when the group came through Baltimore County. When he contacted its members to perform in Patterson Mill again next year, the group said this year would be their last doing in school performances.
The school performances are more than just a concert, Jensen added. The group comes in early to set up its equipment and provides a workshop to high school strings students, who will also have the opportunity to perform with Barrage.
"It's an amazing opportunity for students to get to interact with world class musicians," he said.
All strings students at both schools are eligible to perform with the group, Jensen added, and Barrage specifically sends easy and advanced versions of music to allow every student an opportunity to perform with them on stage.
The students, roughly 80 altogether, will also rehearse in their class before the workshop with Barrage, whose artistic director, Dean Marshall, is also expected to be there, Jensen said, and will work directly with the students to guide them through the music.
In the past, this program has been used as a motivational tool for strings students who want to perform in Barrage or on stage in general.
"It's the turning point, or the starting point, for what they want to do in life," Jensen said, calling it a "key spark."
Being able to meet Barrage performers allows students to develop a "close connection," he added, as well as talk to them and ask questions.
Audience members on Sept. 22 will get that chance also, at the meet-and-greet Barrage holds after the concert for people to get signatures and pictures taken with performers.
"It really creates that casual, professional concert setting," Jensen said, "where it's an intimate setting where you get to meet them."
Last year, more than 500 people attended the Saturday concert and this year, even though it is on a Thursday instead, Jensen said he hopes to have that many or more. In the past, he has received several e-mails from community members praising the concert, calling it an "amazing performance."
Barrage doesn't just play classical pieces either, but incorporates a modern twist.
The group has been known to include Coldplay and other rock elements into their performances, Jensen said.
"They do a fusion of the modern music with classic fiddling," he said. "So they might take the Beatles and perform in fiddling, so they're really taking that unique twist on it."
Tickets for the rock fusion concert are $15 per person and can be purchased at the door or reserved ahead of time by calling Patterson Mill, 410-638-4640, or e-mailing Jensen, Shane.Jensen@hcps.org.
Jensen encouraged community members to attend the concert, saying it is an experience that people may never see again, especially because the group isn't going on school tours after this year.