MOREHEAD CITY — The sounds of violins and cellos filled the West Carteret High School auditorium Wednesday as the N.C. Symphony treated county fourth-graders to a performance.

Conductor Al Sturgis took students on a musical journey, from “Jupiter” by Mozart to “An American in Paris” by George Gershwin.

The concert was made possible thanks to support from the Big Rock Foundation, Carteret Community Foundation and the Arts Council of Carteret County.

County Schools Interim Superintendent Richard Paylor said he appreciated the groups making the concert possible for students.

“It is wonderful they step up and provide funding for this event each year,” Mr. Paylor said.

Tommy Bennett, chairman of the Big Rock Foundation charity committee, said ensuring students are treated to a symphony performance is important.

“Those of us who grew up here remember as children getting to see the symphony,” Mr. Bennett said. “We recognize the cultural impact this performance has on each generation.”

Terry Robertson, president of the Carteret Community Foundation, also said it was important to provide the cultural experience for students.

“We know that music education is a critical component for young children and often it’s music that eventually keeps some children in school,” she said.

The symphony offers a variety of educational concerts and programs geared to elementary, middle and high school students. The program presented Wednesday was designed for fourth- and fifth-graders, with the 2019-20 theme being “What Makes Music … Music?”

The program introduces students to the principles of orchestral music, culminating in a live performance by the N.C. Symphony.

Each year in advance of the season, teachers are invited to attend a workshop where they learn techniques to instruct their students in the fundamentals of music, musical terminology, the instruments of the orchestra and concert repertoire.

Teachers also receive an instruction handbook, recordings of the concert repertoire and student guidebooks to assist them in preparing children for the concert experience.

In addition, each year pupils learn a song to sing while the symphony performs. This year it was “De Colores,” by retired N.C. Symphony conductor Terry Mizesko, a native of Carteret County.

Education is an important part of the concert, and Mr. Sturgis interspersed music with what he referred to as “Musical Trivia,” which quizzed students on the sections of the orchestra and components of music composition.

Students were treated to lessons on the elements of music: rhythm, texture, dynamics, tempo and melody.

They also heard special presentations by the members of the orchestra, including strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion.

Smyrna Elementary School fourth grade teacher Rachel Rose said she appreciated the symphony offering the educational aspect of the performance.

“I know our music teacher went over the different parts of music and asked the students to identify the different instruments and sounds,” Ms. Rose said.

Fourth-grade students said they enjoyed the opportunity to hear a live performance of the symphony.

Smyrna Elementary fourth-graders Brantley Mitchell and Ava Lee got an extra treat prior to the start of the concert by getting a quick lesson in playing the large double bass.

Brantley said, “It was really fun.” He added that his favorite style of music is country.

Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.

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