Tenth annual 'Partners in Music' concert to feature local music students Nov. 13

November 08, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Partners in Music collaboration between the Penn State School of Music and local school districts will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a gala performance at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 13, in Eisenhower Auditorium.

The concert will feature three ensembles of fifth-grade instrumental students (two bands and one orchestra) from State College Area School District, Our Lady of Victory, and Centre Learning Community Charter School. The ensembles are conducted by Penn State students who are pursuing degrees in music education.

The concert is free but a ticket is required. Tickets are available at the Eisenhower Auditorium box office in advance, or at the door starting at 2 p.m.

To honor the anniversary, each ensemble will perform a composition written by a composer connected to the program in some manner. The orchestra will play a piece written by Robert D. Gardner, the music education professor who coordinates the ensemble. The name of the composition, "Needlestep Blues," was a title suggested by Gardner's daughter, a fourth-grader who will likely be a Partners in Music participant next year. The composition is unique in that it involves opportunities for ensemble members to improvise during the performance.

The North Band (students who will be attending Park Forest Middle School) will perform a piece written by local State College musician Rick Hirsch, the father of a 2014 Partners in Music participant. "Tin Man Does the Iron City" was originally written for an elementary band near Pittsburgh, and Hirsch suggested that it would also appropriate for the Partners in Music anniversary. Hirsch visited rehearsals of the North Band to discuss the composition with the students, and he also produced a video for the band members regarding the piece.

The South Band (students who will be attending Mount Nittany Middle School) will perform a composition written by Malcolm Katzen, a 2015 Penn State graduate who participated in Partners in Music as a student conductor of the South Band in fall 2014. Currently a middle school band and choir director in Florida, Katzen shared information regarding the piece, "Phrygian Rondo," with the students via Skype during their morning rehearsals and also produced a video introduction.

The 10th anniversary celebration of the Partners in Music collaboration is made possible through generous funding received from the College Music Society Fund's Robby D. Gunstream Award for Education in Music, State College School District's Crescendo Fund, the Penn State School of Music, and Robert M. Sides Family Music Center.

Partners in Music, created by music education faculty members Linda Thornton and Robert Gardner, provides the opportunity for young instrumentalists and prospective music teachers to make music together. Over six Wednesdays in the fall semester, fifth-grade students from State College Area School District and Our Lady of Victory School rehearse on Penn State's campus, conducted by senior music education majors. The rehearsals culminate in a final concert.

Begun as a pilot program in 2006, the partnership has grown to include three ensembles consisting of approximately 150 young instrumentalists each year. The students' teachers — Lisa Bevan, Carolyn Gardner, Monica Kenney, Mary Krohn-Smith, Steve Linnes, Leah Mueller, Sandy Muller, Matt Nelson, and Roy Schaeffer — volunteer their time to prepare students in lessons and attend rehearsals. The Penn State students also gain valuable experience making music with children as part of their course work.

Thornton and Gardner were honored in 2015 with the University's Community Engagement and Scholarship Award for their work with the Partners in Music collaboration. In 2016, they received the Robby D. Gunstream Education in Music Award from the College Music Society. This national award recognizes established and ongoing, imaginative and effective programs of engagement by higher education music faculty members that further education in music with local or area organizations, including schools, civic associations and faith organizations.


Last Updated November 09, 2016