Source: Sherman Publications

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Detroit Symphony fills Clarkson High with music magic

by Mary Keck

September 26, 2012

Detroit Symphony Orchestra Conductor Teddy Abrams, in his dressing room before the show, thinks Clarkston’s Performing Arts Center is perfect for concerts. Photo by Lance Farrell
Clarkston High School got an earful on Sept. 20 when the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) came to town. The DTE Energy Foundation sponsored the free program as part of their Community Concert Series.

Clarkston High School was chosen from almost 100 venues nominated.

"We ended up as one of only five selected and the only one in Oakland County," said Cory Johnston who, along with Joette Kunse, nominated Clarkston on behalf of the Clarkston Center for the Performing Arts.

With the help of letters of support and public comments on the DSO website, residents were treated to a free musical performance, and CHS had a unique opportunity to hear the sounds of a world-renowned symphony orchestra in their Performing Arts Center.

"It is a great opportunity for the community and the students as well," said CHS Theater Manager Amy Seaman.

She believes seeing the DSO perform will bring music to life for the students who wouldn't have the same experience if they listened to it on a CD. "It gives them something to aspire to," she said.

Shelley Schwaderer Roland, who teaches at Sashabaw Middle School and is the resident conductor of the Clarkston Community Band, hoped students would "catch the bug and continue to support the DSO."

While young people may enjoy experiencing the performance, Roland feels getting them involved in music early has additional benefits.

"Children involved in music learn about problem solving" and to "work together to bring a product to fruition," she said.

Roland also pointed out seeing the DSO's virtuosos serves to remind students, "Everyone on stage was a beginning musician."

In fact, the conductor of Thursday's concert was Teddy Abrams, who was only 17 when he lifted a baton to lead a full orchestra. Anton'n Dvorák's Symphony No. 8, which the DSO performed for Clarkston, was the first score Abram's conducted.

Now at the age of 25, Abrams believes experiencing a concert in Clarkston's Performing Arts Center "is how orchestral music was meant to be experienced."

The smaller size of the venue as compared to the large Orchestra Hall in Detroit is how audiences of masters like Ludwig van Beethoven enjoyed performances.

Abrams explained, "In schools you can recreate that because the space is more contained and intimate."

Dvorák and Beethoven weren't the only composers on the program. Locals who packed the Performing Arts Center heard Leonard Bernstein's Candide overture as well as Aaron Copland's Rodeo Hoe Down.

All of the music Abrams chose for the evening's performance was "a preview of what we'll experience this season," he said.

Not only did Abrams hope to give listeners a preview of the DSO's upcoming concert series, but he also intended to "show off the abilities of the symphony," he said.

With tunes like Henry Mancini's The Pink Panther, Abrams showcased the orchestra's ability to pull off jazzy tunes along with the classical sounds expected of the DSO. The mix of classical and jazz in their performance was well received.

"It has been awhile since I attended a live orchestra performance, and this one was wonderful," said Johnston, and he felt what was "even better was a full theater with a very appreciative audience."

Johnston, who spearheaded the effort to bring the DSO to Clarkston, was thankful to Clarkston Community Schools for all they did to make the event happen, and supporters at The Clarkston News, Rudy's Market, KH Home, Washington Management, Frank and Me, and Essence on Main Street. 

"We would not be able to continue our efforts of promoting the performing arts and performances without them," Johnston said.

For more information, check www.dso.org.