A MusicWorks! Performance
April 27, 2017
It’s amazing to realize that less than half a year ago, like many of the children in the MusicWorks! Orchestra, I’d never touched a real stringed instrument before, let alone played one. And now here we were, on the stage of the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, performing to an audience of more than 1,400 people.
We had a quick rehearsal with only a few ushers in the audience sitting in the plush seats, listening to us. We warmed up and played through the piece a few times. Then we went to wait in a green room. When it was time for our performance, we waited in the wings while Maestro Kurtz spoke to the audience. He then showed them a short film about the MusicWorks! program and how it helps the kids. Not only do they learn how to play music, but it helps them learn concentration, self-discipline, cooperation and self-confidence. They’re absent less from school. Their behavior improves. They do better in their other classes. The effect of learning the arts is remarkable and ripples out to other areas in their lives.
Suddenly, it was time. We stepped out into the bright lights, our instruments and bows waiting for us at our chairs. I kept my eyes on our conductor, Mr. Haniel. I was so anxious to do well that I didn’t realize until later that I didn’t even sit in the rest position but held my bow near my cello strings, ready to play. We played the Great Gate of Kiev from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition — violins, violas, cellos and bass. Mr. Haniel conducted at a brisk pace, and I followed. I was pleased not to get lost.
And then, it was over. The audience applauded and we bowed. I wish I could’ve seen the balcony where I knew families and friends were sitting. Friends told me they were standing and cheering. We walked offstage, and in the wings I heard one of my fellow cellists declare, “We’re famous now!” After carefully putting our instruments back in their cases, we followed the ushers up to the balcony, where we watched the Gulf Coast Symphony perform “From Hollywood to Broadway” with Rachel York, Melissa Errico and Doug LaBreque singing tunes from movies and Broadway shows.
Nancy Stetson is a writer for Florida Weekly in Fort Myers, FL. During the 2016-2017 school year, she will be attending MusicWorks! as a student participant and documenting her experiences in a series of blog posts and news articles.