Newly formed Toledo Symphony Youth Quartet rocks to a different tune

String players from Toledo Symphony Youth Orchestras combine to bring new sounds

Published Tuesday, May 30, 2017

by DENNIS BOVA

String players from the Toledo Symphony Youth Orchestra are branching out from their classical music performances to bring new sounds to new audiences in new places.

Ten of the school-aged performers have formed the Toledo Symphony Youth Quartet. Their first performance will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 8, at the Paula Brown Shop, 912 Monroe St. in Toledo. The repertoire will be non-traditional. Among the potential selections will be Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five,” Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk,” and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

The quartet is run by the students themselves, with guidance from Toledo Symphony Orchestra musicians and staff.

The idea of a quartet came from the TSYO students. “We often improvised and played other selections between rehearsals,” said Loa Cho, a Bowling Green resident who recently completed her freshman year at Maumee Valley Country Day School.  “We threw around the idea of forming a quartet. When Rachel [Zeithamel, TSO Education Director] heard this idea, she showed interest and suggested a couple of possible events where we could play. We were excited. And now, we’re about to play our first event.”

“I love sneaking into rehearsals,” Ms.  Zeithamel said. “It’s great to hear the music, but more important is seeing the expression on their faces. They are having a good time. But trust me, they are learning a lot!

“The group wants to be ambassadors for music, especially for the youth in the area,” Ms. Zeithamel added. “Brahms and Haydn might not do it for everyone, but I dare you to listen to Michael Jackson’s ‘Smooth Criminal’ [one of the songs the Quartet has rehearsed] and not tap your toes or bop your head!”

Miss Cho said, “I was fascinated to find that we teens have a very wide range of music taste, from ragtime, jazz, ‘70s disco, ‘80s rock, to recent pop from the U.S. and abroad. Of course, we TSYO players all love classical music. But we would like to explore and excel in various types of music.”

The TSYQ is committed to reaching out to youths and adults in non-traditional ways. “We would love to perform at events, work with social service organizations, teach, have a concert, or go busking [street performing],” Miss Cho said.

The group calls itself a quartet, but it’s composed of 10 players who can rotate into the four roles depending on their availability. They are:

Violin: Erin Gardiner of Perrysburg High School and taught by Vasile Beluska; Cole Habekost, Toledo School for the Arts, Merwin Siu; Abby Kim, Sylvania Southview High School, Beluska; Danny Lee, Sylvania Northview High School, Beluska; and Sean Park, Sylvania Southview, Beluska.

Viola: Lang Liang, Maumee Valley Country Day School, Matthew Daline; and Benjamin Martz, Perrysburg High School, Robert Howell.

Cello: Valeria Heredia, homeschool, Alan Smith; Sam Kim, Sylvania Arbor Hills Junior High, Yang Kun Song; and Miss Cho, MVCDS, taught by Smith.

Following the inaugural performance at the Paula Brown Shop, the Quartet is scheduled to perform at the Lathrop House in Sylvania on Aug. 5 as part of the Celebration of Freedom event.

“Practicing and performing chamber music with friends from a young age instills a deep love, appreciation, and understanding of music that lasts a lifetime,” Ms. Zeithamel said. “It doesn’t matter if you are playing Bach, Beethoven, or the Beatles. It is still music.”

More information about the Quartet or any Toledo Symphony program is available from Ms. Zeithamel at 419-418-0022 or rzeithamel@toledosymphony.com

The Toledo Symphony Orchestra has events all year round. View our upcoming performance schedule now.

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