Annapolis Symphony Orchestra forms partnership with 2 schools; Goal of the program is to raise children's appreciation of music


The Annapolis Symphony Orchestra's "adopt a school" program is outreach at its best and reflects the vision of conductor Leslie B. Dunner, who was on hand with orchestra administrators to initiate the program recently at Bates Middle and Germantown Elementary schools.

Pamela Chaconas, the orchestra's education director, described the program as an "ongoing relationship," with plans at Bates to include visiting orchestra soloists, master classes with orchestra musicians and some involvement at the spring Family Concert.

At Germantown, plans include working with pupils in instrumental and general music classes and connecting to the general curriculum.

Dunner said the orchestra is "happy that we can form a partnership with two area schools and help in the development of young creative minds and help foster the educational process."

He said he wants parents to support the relationship and hopes that the orchestra will be seen as another community resource, like schools, colleges, churches and galleries.

In his first year at Germantown, music teacher Michael Tayman, 32, approached the orchestra about sending musicians to the school to serve as mentors and perhaps interest the children in attending family and regular concerts so they might become concert-goers.

Believing that music can play an important part in helping pupils succeed in all aspects of life, Tayman said he is grateful to the orchestra for participating.

Germantown pupils move on to Bates Middle School, where work with the Annapolis symphony will continue.

Bates is a rich resource with a music program that attracts excellent students. The school boasts a 95-piece orchestra and a band that provides winter concerts and offers stiff competition to rival bands each spring.

In his seventh year at Bates, Rob Stoyakovich, 34, is head of the music program, teaching instrumental and general music. A teacher for 14 years, Stoyakovich urges pupils "not to give up until they get it." He emphasizes helping children appreciate the variety of music the orchestra can provide.

The orchestra's "adopt a school" program brought violinist Jennifer Koh, 22, to Bates when she was in town for the orchestra's opening concert.

Koh visited Oct. 1, the day she arrived in Annapolis, and established a rapport with the pupils, playing her 1727 Stradivarius.

The next day, Koh, again toting the Stradivarius, spent an hour at Annapolis High School where she describing music as "all about life -- abstract and totally individual" with a three-dimensional sequence "started by the composer, interpreted by the performer and finished by the audience."

Koh, winner of the Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow, told the students that performing music is "how you feel about it and how you dedicate yourself."

On Monday of last week, Donald Spinelli, 41, the Annapolis Symphony's principal percussionist, was at Bates. Spinelli also is a member of the Marine Band, known as "The President's Own," and plays frequently at the White House.

He said percussionists are always in the back of the orchestra because they have a number of instruments to play and have to stand to play several of them.

The musician played ragtime on the xylophone and demonstrated his virtuosity on the snare drum.

Spinelli told the class he started playing drums in seventh grade and played percussion instruments "to entertain and get creative."

The father of five children -- soon to be six -- knows how to relate to kids, educating as he entertains.

Spinelli said he appreciates the Annapolis Symphony's efforts to reach out to schools.

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad