Our event at the Arts Club of Washington was one of our best ever. Once again, our hosts offered us a most wonderful experience- this time with classical music! We were treated to the lovely music of the Excelsa String Quartet:
- Laura Colgate, violin
- Jonathan Richards, violin
- Valentina Shohdy, viola
- Kacy Clopton, cello
We learned from our host, Ms. June Hajjar, that the Quartet was formed in 2009 at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. They were recently appointed University of Maryland’s Graduate Fellowship String Quartet for 2013-2014. The Quartet takes its name from “Picea excelsa” a distinct species of spruce trees native to Northern Europe from which the top panel of only the finest string quartet instruments are made. They have performed in Aldeburgh, England and studied at the Konservatorium Dreilinden in Lucerne, Switzerland where they completed a Master’s Degree in Chamber Music. They have also performed in Germany and in France.
These superb musicians engaged the students in an ongoing tutorial about how music is a conversation that is passed from one musician to the others, called “voice leading”. The students asked many good questions and we all learned about Beethoven, Mozart, and Haydn. We especially enjoyed the piece by Franz Schubert called “Death and the Maiden”. Thanks to the energetic instruction of our artists, we could actually hear the voices of the maiden and death throughout the music.
Additionally, we had an opportunity to start our day with a fascinating gallery walk to enjoy the new art displays. All of us were truly inspired by the details of color, texture, tone and emotion shared in these visual masterpieces. As if this were not enough, we also had a buffet of such delicious food. One student came up to me and said, “I think I am going to cry- the food is SOOO GOOD!” She was right. Just for fun, the musicians and we had a talent sing-off that got us all clapping and laughing with happiness.
It was fun to introduce our new Executive Director, Robyn Ryal, and announce the new role of Mentor Director for Brian Ritchey. We explained that my role has changed to Special Programs Director. We had a chance to review our vocabulary for ACT/SAT and practiced essay writing at the end of the day when we captured our experience on paper. The students are expected to email me their essays by the end of the week which I will then share back with the Arts Club of Washington. The day ended with us all walking out into the beautiful sunny day as we waited for our rides. One of my favorite memories to end the day was listening to our dear JH sing to me like a lovely angel as we walked down the sidewalk to her waiting ride. What amazing and wonderful students we have!
Thank you to all who made the day yet another success for our Academy program. Thank you to Conici Blount, June Hajjar, the musicians, the kitchen chefs, mentors, volunteers, students, new directors, friends and families for all you do to keep our students moving forward to their dream of college success!