Weston and Bridgeport students team up to make music

Weston music teacher Meghan Smart conducted the Music for Youth Exchange Orchestra, made up of students from Weston and Bridgeport middle schools.

Weston music teacher Meghan Smart conducted the Music for Youth Exchange Orchestra, made up of students from Weston and Bridgeport middle schools.

There’s a new team in Weston — the Weston/Bridgeport Musical Exchange Team!

For the fourth year, Weston Middle School string orchestra students have participated in a yearlong musical exchange program with students from High Horizons and Multi-Cultural Middle Schools in Bridgeport. The Musical Exchange Program is sponsored by Music for Youth Inc., a local nonprofit organization dedicated to exposing young people to classical music through its free Young Persons’ Concert Series at the Pequot Library, free master classes, an annual college scholarship, and school residency programs such as this one.

Music for Youth hired a professional string quartet from New York, the Voxare Quartet, to perform in each school and work with 43 string students on a concert program throughout the year — 22 players from Weston and 21 from Bridgeport.

The Voxare Quartet, all Juilliard graduates, worked with Bridgeport students on their own, Weston students on their own, and the two groups together; students from each school traveled to the other town to meet their counterparts in joint rehearsals several times throughout the year.

Each visit included listening to the quartet perform and working on several pieces chosen by their string teachers, Emily Czywczynski from Bridgeport and Meghan Smart from Weston Middle School.

On April 3, the Voxare Quartet also played for a group of more than 100 students at Weston Intermediate School, introducing their instruments and encouraging the youngsters to sign up for string instruction and continue strings in middle school and beyond.

The residency culminated in two final concerts on May 1, one at the Thurgood Marshall School in Bridgeport and one at Weston High School. The students enjoyed a pizza lunch together in between performances.

The audience in the Weston High School auditorium included seventh and eighth graders as well as sixth graders listening via streaming technology from the new middle school library. The youngsters heard the Voxare Quartet perform pieces by Dvorak and Lou Harrison.

The Student Exchange Orchestra, sporting matching T-shirts, then played three pieces: Fable by Larry Clark, Largo by Handel, and A Gypsy Tale by Soon Hee Newbold.

Weston Middle School teacher Ms. Smart said, “This was a wonderful opportunity for our Weston string students not only to work with a professional string quartet, but with new peers and teachers. The eighth graders enjoyed the exchange days, the challenge of additional repertoire, and the final performances for the Bridgeport and Weston communities. Extensive thanks to MFY for this experience! The current seventh grade is already asking about next year’s exchange!”

Weston students involved in the program include Patrycja Szatchelski, Zoe Possick, Gilbert Tsui, Preston Joffe, Emmalee Festa, Jesse Kallins, Nicole Blitzer, Maggie Miller, Joshua Davidoff, Molly Morris, Charles Singer, Danielle Cass, Alexandra Manoni, Jack Corsentino, Kenneth “Charlie” Gosnell, Cameron Edgar, Caroline Collins, Joseph Ferrara, Owen Shapiro, Andrew Bell, Kara Redcay, and Andrew Zych.

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