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Music Matters program is taking string quartet to school

The Springfield Symphony Orchestra's String Quartet will present a series of in-school mini-concerts as part of the orchestra's Music Matters educational program for all Springfield elementary schools and schools in West Springfield, Chicopee and Ludlow. The theme of the presentations is "From New to Blue: American Music" and includes works by George Gershwin, Antonin Dvorak, Duke Ellington and Scott Joplin.

These 45 minute presentations are part of the two part Music Matters program that also includes the Music Matters Youth Concerts at Symphony Hall on March 1 and 2. The In-School Ensemble performances are made possible by the generous sponsorship support of Hasbro and a grant from the Comcast Foundation. The mini-concerts are presented free to all Springfield fourth graders through this funding generosity. Additional support comes from the Springfield Cultural Council and the Irene and George Davis Foundation. For the large majority of Springfield fourth graders, the In-School Ensemble performance is a first.

The SSO String Quartet is comprised of the orchestra's Concertmaster, Masako Yanagita and Assistant Concertmaster Marsha Harbison, both playing the violin. Ron Gorevic, Principal Viola, and Richard Mickey, Cello, round out the quartet. Each of the presentations begins with an introduction of the musicians and their instruments and the bows they use. The musicians then put into context the composers and the music that the students will be hearing. Following the formal part of the program, there is a question and answer period where the professional musicians talk to the students about their careers in music.

Kevin Rhodes, the music director of the SSO, chose to feature American music for this year's Music Matters program. In particular, he will explore how American music developed its identity, with jazz, spirituals and folk music. Included is music by Gershwin, by a European composer Antonin Dvorak, who lived in the US and wrote some of his well known music, based on American folk songs and a look at the Star Spangled Banner was composed and officially adopted as our national anthem. Kevin Rhodes said, "The string quartet performances set the stage for the Youth Concerts."

The SSO is partnering with the Springfield Schools to provide an educational opportunity free to the system.

For more information about the SSO's Music Matters educational program, call 733-0636, x14 or by email at