Carnegie Hall ensemble creates music with students in southeastern Connecticut

On Friday, December 16, 2022, in the school auditorium, from left, Fitch High School students Jacob Fields and Hannah Thomas playing saxophones, band leader and jazz drummer Art Blakely rehearsing Moanin’, Decoda bassist Evan Premo. A grant from Musical Masterworks has brought his Decoda, an affiliated ensemble at Carnegie Hall, to work with the students. (Dana Jensen/The Day) Buy a reprint of the photo

From left, Decoda members Brad Balliet, Bassoon, Laura Weiner, French Horn, Evan Premo, Bass, Claire Bryant, and Cello rehearse for a concert with Fitch High School music students on Friday, December 16, 2022. A grant from Musical Masterworks worked with his students in his Decoda, a Carnegie Hall affiliated ensemble. (Dana Jensen/The Day) Buy a reprint of the photo
From left, Fitch High School Student String Ensemble, Elias Slocum, Viola, Mallory Marquardt, Violin, Carl Victorino, Viola, Camille, Monser, Violin, far left, back to camera. Billie Elish song arranged by Edwards from New Score music software for their concert on Friday December 16, 2022. A grant from Musical Masterworks brought his Decoda, an affiliated ensemble at Carnegie Hall, to collaborate with the students. (Dana Jensen/The Day) Buy a reprint of the photo
Fitch High School student Regina Boutot holds a viola and sheet music while watching a concert rehearsal between the center stage curtains in the school auditorium Friday, December 16, 2022. A grant from Musical Masterworks brought her Decoda, an affiliated ensemble at Carnegie Hall, to work with the students. (Dana Jensen/The Day) Buy a reprint of the photo

Brad Balliett stood Wednesday night in the Sub-Bass Youth Center gymnasium in front of a whiteboard with drawings of birds, and the song the quartet will play next was written by him. There, “Think of it as a collaboration with me and the American Oystercatcher. He was inspired by the calls of birds.

Bassoonist and contrabassist Evan Premo wrote some of the music played on Wednesday, and the group performed a brand new piece written for the occasion by another composer. This is because there is not much music written for quartets that include bass, cello and French horn.

But what they want to do most is help others write music for the first time, Barriet said, and they’re doing it this week with students in southeastern Connecticut.

Balliett, Premo, Laura Weiner and Claire Bryant are four of Decoda’s musicians. Decoda is a Carnegie Hall artist-led collective and affiliated he ensemble with a total of about 30 members.

In addition to an interactive concert at the Sub-Bass Youth Center, the four will collaborate with students from Fitch High School and Waterford Country School this week at Vista Life Innovations as part of Musical Masterworks’ new community engagement initiative.

Thanks to a $19,400 grant from CT Humanities and a $5,000 grant from the Samuel Freeman Charitable Trust, the Old Lyme-based nonprofit brought Decoda musicians to school for free.

“Working with Musical Masterworks and Decoda has been an incredible experience from start to finish. It inspired many students and gave them an idea of ​​what music is like outside of high school. It opened my eyes to that,” said Andrea Shabazian. , Fitch’s band director.

The Musical Masterworks program also includes two concerts at Old Lyme that are free and open to the public. Saturday 10-11am at the Youth Service Bureau in Limes (59 Lime Street), interactive family concerts and chamber music concerts in St. Ann’s Parish (82 Shore Road) Sunday 2-3pm

Managing Director Wendy Hayes explained that Musical Masterworks has traditionally done a chamber music series and several school assemblies.

She said the organization started thinking: community.

After receiving the grant, Hayes said he wondered: And through conversation, she learned that this is exactly what her Decoda does.

“Because they teach artists, they not only perform at a high level, but their mission is to go out and bring music to the community,” Hayes said. Balliet said she loves her songwriting projects in hospitals and shelters, and has been focusing on correctional facilities in recent years.

Balliett said Decoda is primarily focused on the second of its three main objectives this week. Chamber music performances, creative community performances, and training the next generation of educational artists.

Marguerite Rausch, supervising librarian for the Naval Submarine Station morale, welfare and recreation team, said the Sub-Bass Youth Center concert began with a cold phone call she received from Hayes.

“Perfect because we always try to provide different types of cultural and educational opportunities for military families,” she said.

Several children showed up, each with their parents, and before the performance began, Weiner went to 10-year-old Khloe Brown to explain how her French horn worked.

Debra Glaspie said she wanted to bring her daughter, Chloe, who recently started violin at Charles Burnham Elementary School, to expose her to other instruments. I thought it was a good way and loved the opportunity for children to get to know the instruments.

Then, at the end of the hour-long concert and discussion, two other children joined the holiday medley by playing jingle bells just in time.

Creating and Refinement of Essays in School

As for schools, Hayes explained that Musical Masterworks would like to do a residency program, rather than just drop by the school and do the assembly. They chose Fitch in part because the student base is both demographically and economically diverse.

Shabazian said Decoda worked with about 30 students in concert band, jazz band, orchestra and percussion ensemble classes, as well as five students in her Advanced Placement Music Theory class last year.

AP Music Theory students wrote songs for the Composition Unit last year. When Decoda’s visit gave us more information this year, they tweaked the song based on his four instruments in particular.

They got feedback from Decoda before and during the ensemble’s visit and were able to hear songs played by skilled musicians as well as computers. “Their smiles were from ear to ear,” said Shabazian, from what they were used to, day and night.

The production culminated in Friday night’s concert, where Decoda performed both their own music and works by Fitch composers, performed by student musicians.

The program at Waterford Country School is very different as it is a small special education school without a music program. But executive director Chris Lacy wants the program to be “a kickoff of sorts,” given that new music teachers started just weeks ago.

“This is not the end for us,” Lacey said.

While Decoda helped Fitch students write songs, Balliett said it was “a more creative project” at Waterford Country School, where he helped 10 high school students write new songs from scratch.

For example, he said he wrote a song on Wednesday afternoons about the students’ passion for having a midnight snack at school.

Decoda will also hold a workshop on Saturday at the Madison campus of Vista Life Innovations, which serves youth with neurological disorders. This includes Decoda showcasing their instruments, collaborating with the Vista community to create music, and finally sharing the music in small concerts.

if you go

Contents: Decoding Concert

When: Saturday 10-11am, Sunday 2-3:30pm

Location: Old Lyme – Saturdays at Lymes Youth Service Bureau (59 Lime Street), Sundays at St. Ann’s Parish (82 Shore Road)

Cost: Free

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