Germantown, Tennessee--October 14, 2019--"It's not as dynamic as Mozart--the parts are mostly the same throughout the piece," says ninth grade orchestra student Adam Saleh in response to a Hungarian folk-song played by three special guests. The guests are members of the professional Iris Orchestra and are acting as artists in residence for the day at Houston High School. Students are being treated to intimate chamber performances and after each song have the opportunity to discuss the music with the artists.
Iris Orchestra is piloting a new program this year in partnership with the Houston High School Fine Arts Academy. The Crescendo Project is a mentorship program between Iris Orchestra and music students in Houston’s Fine Arts Academy. The goal of the Crescendo Project is to engage the resources of Iris Orchestra to create exceptional learning and growth opportunities for the region’s developing student musicians. Through the project, students will be able to engage with Iris’ professional musicians through classroom visits, ensemble workshops and side-by-side rehearsals. The classroom visits, which began this week, allows an ensemble of Iris Orchestra musicians to work directly with orchestra and band students through intimate performances and group discussion. Rebecca Arendt, the program’s manager, is a professional vocalist and will be working with the school’s vocal program throughout the year.
In Dr. Long Long Kang's classroom, two students in first period play for the guests and receive a mini-lesson in front of the class. After Jenny McClain plays her piece, the visiting violinst suggests she remove her watch and try the first part of the movement again. "How does it feel?" he asks. "So, different!" said McClain. "This is a once and a lifetime opportunity," she shared with us. "These musicians come from all over the world and they play with a director that's practically famous," McClain said.
Iris Orchestra, the resident orchestra of the Germantown Performing Arts Center (GPAC) was founded as a bold experiment in September 2000. After twenty years, Iris Orchestra is proudly still bold and still experimenting. The mission of the Iris Orchestra is to serve the community with exceptional music. “For a city this size to have a resident orchestra is a very rare,” said Iris Executive Director Marcia Kaufmann. “Iris is here to serve the community as a resource,” Kaufmann adds.
Iris patrons will have the opportunity to listen to these future musicians as ensembles from Houston’s music department will perform in the lobby prior to Iris concerts. Students involved in the Crescendo Program also receive complimentary tickets to all Iris concerts.
The Crescendo Project was created in honor of former Germantown Mayor Sharon Goldsworthy and her husband, Jim. “We are very grateful for Mayor Goldsworthy and her efforts to help to form our resident orchestra,” said Mayor Mike Palazzolo. “This honor is only fitting, as she continues to be a huge proponent of the arts and lifelong learning in this community,” Mayor Palazzolo added.