After being silent for 40 years, the sound of string music violins, violas, and cellos can be heard throughout the halls of three elementary schools located in the Enlarged City School District of Troy, thanks in part to a partnership with Rensselaer.
Rensselaer held a press conference in May to announce the purchase of 55 string instruments that have provided the Troy School District with an opportunity to reinstate its string instrument and orchestra program for third and fourth grade students in three elementary schools.
The event held in the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center Concert Hall featured remarks by President Shirley Ann Jackson; Johannes Goebel, director of EMPAC; Fadhilika Atiba-Weza, superintendant for the Troy School District; and Troy Mayor Harry Tutunjian.
“Last summer, we learned through a newspaper article that the Troy School District had to abandon its elementary school string instrument and orchestral program 40 years ago because of financial issues,” said President Jackson. “Last summer, also, Rensselaer was preparing to open this important research and education center focused on performing arts, and animated by the latest research capabilities. It seemed to us that it was imperative that the children of Troy have the opportunity to learn about and experience the joy of creating music.”
The new instruments were delivered in February and March to the Troy Schools and include 25 violins, 16 violas, and 14 cellos. The district also hired an instructor for the program.
“I personally had my greatest music education when I was an exchange student from Germany attending a high school in Los Angeles, Calif., that included daily one-hour classes in concert choir and music history,” said Goebel, an internationally known curator and composer.
Following remarks, the audience got a chance to hear a group of 21 budding musicians as they debuted their first official concert. Led by Kenneth Kelly, strings music teacher for the district, the students played “Ode to Joy,” “Lightly Row,” and the classic childhood favorite “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”
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