Children make classical music, and love it Kids tuning up for bigger things


It's true for the New York Philharmonic and it's true for the young players of the Chesapeake Youth String Orchestra, who gather weekly to rehearse at the Phoenix Center in Annapolis: meaningful musicianship is painstaking work.

Listen, for example, to last week's rehearsal of the youth orchestra.

"It must sound like a march," insists conductor David Gibson as he marks time like a soldier in an attempt to inject a martial flair into the Bach melody his musicians are playing.

"Let me hear that C sharp. Now, the open string D. Good! I love that crescendo."

The Chesapeake Youth String Orchestra is seen as a complementary organization to the 3-year-old Chesapeake Youth Symphony, which performs under the baton of Arne Running. Already, the orchestra has attracted 44 experienced string players ages 9 to 16 years.

"We felt it was time to do something special for the younger players," says Betty McGinnes, head of the CYSO board. "We wanted to instill a love of orchestral music in our youth."

Mr. Gibson speaks enthusiastically about the impact of such an orchestra on young musicians. "The kids progress incredibly," he says, "much more quickly than by playing alone. Their reading skills get better and better. They just take off on their instruments."

After just two rehearsals, the youngsters have learned several Gibson transcriptions of French Baroque works and are excited about the music and about the noncompetitive seating rotation instituted by their conductor.

Sooner or later, every player in a section gets a crack at the coveted "first chair" position.

"Sometimes you get bored sitting in the same place all the time," says Jamie Reece, 11, a violinist from St. Martin's School in Annapolis. "Here you get to trade places and sit where you want."

The orchestra, which is to give its debut concert at the Ginger Cove auditorium in December, already has impressed its Number 1 fan, Lettie Contee, a Phoenix Center custodian who goes beyond the call of duty to help out the fledgling ensemble.

"They are doing a very good job," she says with a smile.

"They sound excellent for such a short time."

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