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Students savor symphonic sounds

Orchestra volunteers give concerts at elementary schools

More than 1,800 students in kindergarten through fifth grade experienced the delights of a live symphony orchestra this spring when the Livermore-Amador Symphony performed at school assemblies.

Thirty volunteers presented concerts at Hearst and Mohr elementary schools in Pleasanton, and Dougherty and Frederiksen elementary schools in Dublin. Music director Lara Webber conducted, and the orchestra's harpist brought her instrument to share with the students.

High school student and cellist Alexander Canicosa-Miles, a winner of the Livermore-Amador Symphony's 2018-19 Competition for Young Musicians, joined the orchestra as well. In addition to classical music, selections included "The Star Spangled Banner" and "Star Wars-The Force Be With You," music guaranteed to delight the young audiences.

"The symphonic sound filled the multi-purpose rooms with rich harmonic sounds full of rhythms appreciated by elementary students," symphony board member Carol Boster said. "One could watch them wave their arms quietly to the beat or tap their laps, or even lightly clap to the piece."

The programs were tied in with the Common Core curriculum and emphasized critical-thinking, imagery and storytelling through music.

"The concerts were about music as a language illustrating the similarities in grammar and phrasing to spoken language," Webber said.

"Music can ask and answer questions, create conversations that tell stories and convey emotions. Features included our marvelous young soloist Alexander, age 15, playing Haydn and Paganini. He connected with the kids directly with his beautiful playing and answering questions," she continued.

"Members of our orchestra also played several solo cadenzas, including our harpist Constance Koo. Music ranged from Rossini's 'William Tell' Overture to music of Bizet, Faure and Star Wars. The students sang with us and eagerly participated, singing back melodies and rhythms when prompted by the orchestra."

The Livermore-Amador Symphony has been performing at assemblies since 2015 and plans to bring similar programs to schools throughout the Tri-Valley in the coming years. The Pleasanton concerts were funded by a grant from the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center, which acquired the funds from Pleasanton Cultural Arts Council, and the Dublin school concerts were made possible by a grant from the Alameda County Arts Commission.

The concerts were organized by the LAS Youth Outreach Committee, led by Beth Wilson. Boster facilitated the Pleasanton concerts, and musician Christine-Ann Immesoete, the orchestra's principal horn, helped to arrange the Dublin assemblies. For more information about the symphony, visit www.livermoreamadorsymphony.org.

Editor's note: Patricia J. Boyle, immediate past president of the California Writers Club Tri-Valley branch, has been writing about the Livermore-Amador Symphony for seven years.

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