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Alexandria Symphony’s Sympatico Students Compose New Work

Music Education Program Embarks on Its Sixth Composition Workshop 

Kids participate in real composition with the Alexandria Symphony. Photo, Youtube

Alexandria, VA— Music-making with Sympatico is a daily affair at John Adams Elementary School, but during the week of November 6, students will take their music-making to a whole new level in a week-long intensive workshop.

Based on the theme “You and Me, and I and We” the students will compose original compositions under the guidance of outside teaching artists, who are experts in composition and music-making.  All five of Sympatico’s ensembles—The Percussion Experience (Bucket Band), Cantamos (chorus), The Mallet Machine (Intermediate Orff), XyloKids (Introductory Orff), and The Fiddle Factory (strings)—will participate in the composition and performance of the finished work.  All Kindergarten students will also contribute to this group endeavor.

Students will devote one full day (Election Day) as well as the regular Sympatico ensemble classes meeting before and after school that week to the workshop activities.  Students will provide ideas for melody, rhythm and use of instruments to create a collaborative work.  The finished pieces will culminate in a special school performance on Friday, November 10 at 6:30 PM at John Adams, featuring all 100 students from Sympatico.  An in-school assembly for the student body will be presented earlier that day.  The evening performance is open to the public.

“This workshop is one of our favorite events year after year,” says Sympatico Program Director Emily Smith. “It is wonderful to see our students having so many opportunities to create music that is meaningful to them. They take immense pride in the work they accomplish, and they grow to appreciate the contributions of the other students in the program.”

The teaching artists conducting the workshop are members of Creative Connections, led by Sympatico’s Program consultant, Daniel Trahey.  Trahey is founder of Baltimore Symphony’s acclaimed OrchKids program, serving thousands in Baltimore City Public Schools and growing each year.  OrchKids is considered a national model for helping at-risk youth, and the ASO mirrored Sympatico after this program, with Trahey’s leadership from its inception. Joining him are the Sympatico instructors as teaching artists Jim Territo, Hana Morford and Joe Hamm.

Launched in 2013, ASO Sympatico is a before and after-school music program in partnership with John Adams Elementary School (Alexandria City Public Schools) and underwritten by the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra.  In its fourth full school year, the award-winning program inspired by the El Sistema method serves more than 100 students, every school day, Monday through Friday.  Students in Kindergarten through fifth grade are eligible to participate in any of the five ensembles, free of charge.

Funding for the November workshop was made possible by the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the John Adams PTA, and generous individuals.

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