First time band exchange a success at Cape

Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra members offer pointers
Cape High Band Director Christopher Burkhart directs the band during a recent practice. SOURCE SUBMITTED
May 22, 2014

Cape band members say a visit with Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra musicians was a once in a lifetime experience. Band director Christopher Burkhart said the band improved immediately and also learned some life lessons.

The April 10 visit was the group's first outreach program in Delaware, said JoFran Falcon, the orchestra's vice president of education and outreach.

MSO musicians Edna Huang, clarinet, Lori Kesner, flute, Stuart Smith, trumpet and Fritz Kranz, tuba, showed up during the regular band class to offer their expertise, Falcon said.

The band played first played “Elegy for a young American” for the professional musicians, and then they broke into groups by instrument, Falcon said. After some small group instructions, and plenty of pointers by the pros, the Cape band returned to play the same song; Falcon said she could hear how the tutoring sessions helped. “The sound of the band after the master classes was significantly better than it was before,” she said.

Cape band director Christopher Burkhart was pleased with the improvement, too.

“I found this master class to be hugely beneficial to the group,” he said. “The band immediately improved in a practical way because the students were able to spend an hour with a professional musician that plays their instrument.”

On a deeper level, Burkhart said students got a glimpse of what it takes to be successful in life by interacting with the professionals. Although he doubts many students will continue with music as a career, he said, they saw first hand how someone can turn a passion into a career through tenacity and discipline.

“Every one of them can take those principles, and apply them to their endeavors,” Burkhart said. “Personally, I think that's one of the most important concepts we can possibly teach.”

Tenth-grader Danielle Bishop said she appreciated the time the musicians spent at Cape.

“The orchestra members were amazing people who play their instruments beautifully,” she said. “Having the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra members come to our school and mentor us not only by the piece we were playing but techniques to make our sound better was a once in a lifetime experience that is greatly loved by me and my fellow band members.”

Falcon said a Delaware businessman helped make the exchange possible with a generous donation.

“Mr. Michael Jahnigen of Frankford, Delaware has made a generous donation to the MSO to fund the school programs this year,” she said. “The Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra is very appreciative of his support which allows the MSO to offer this unique opportunity for young musicians to acquire some expertise from professional musicians.”