Music students to perform with the pros

By Don Leypoldt
For the Journal Inquirer
May 18, 2006

MANCHESTER — “There is no better teacher than experience.” If this oft-quoted aphorism is true, then students of Manchester High School music teacher Carol Maas will be getting their best lesson on Saturday, May 20, when they perform with the Manchester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium at Manchester High School Auditorium, 135 E. Middle Turnpike.

Tickets are $13 for adults, $10 for seniors and students over 18, and free for children under 18.

Saturday’s annual “side by side” concert of the Manchester Symphony Orchestra (MSO) will give Maas’ select MHS Chamber Orchestra musicians a unique experience: the chance to learn music through interacting with an established symphony orchestra. Maas is both a violinist for the MSO and the conductor of the MHS Chamber Orchestra. It is her coordination that makes the opportunity possible.

The event was originally scheduled for the MSOC’s February concert, a performance that ultimately had to be abbreviated slightly in order to beat an oncoming snowstorm. The change in schedule does not dampen the students’ enthusiasm however.

“Last year, the students loved it,” explains Maas. “They came to many of the rehearsals, even before the required ones. It was a unique experience for them because they got to sit next to an adult and play music that is more challenging than what they play in school.”

“Part of the MSOC’s mission statement has to do with reaching out to young people in an educational way,” says conductor Lewis Buckley. “This isn’t just something we do because it’s a nice thing to do. This is something that we do because it is what this organization is about.”

For the aspiring artists, the exposure that comes with playing alongside an orchestral group will give them valuable insight into what it takes to perform music at a higher caliber. This may well be the next step for those students fortunate enough to take their musical ability to elevated levels.

Buckley is no stranger to teaching and working with talented youngsters. A conductor for more than 30 years, he frequently holds clinics for secondary and college students. The trick, he says, is getting these capable young musicians to have confidence in themselves.

“The students come in on the first rehearsal and they are really nervous. Both the orchestra members and I bend over backward to assure them that this is a safe place,” explains Buckley. “Through the rehearsal process, you can see them relax into the music and by the time the concert comes along, they just glow. When it’s all over, they feel so good about what they’ve done.

“If a kid goes through that process and comes out feeling that they’ve accomplished something,” Buckley continues, “then you have succeeded no matter how well they play. If on the other hand, they go through the whole thing and they’re nervous and you make them feel that they have to be very careful, then they get nothing good out of it.”

Maas, for one, validates Buckley’s philosophy. “Lew Buckley has such a way of dealing with the kids and making them feel very positively even if the music is a bit challenging.”

As usual, the MSOC will be featuring both “fun” and “serious” music at the concert. The orchestra opens with Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Festive Overture.” The Overture is followed by 20th century American composer George Kleinsinger’s whimsical “Tubby the Tuba,” an endearing number that was later the basis of an animated movie featuring Dick Van Dyke.

Note: There will be a replay of the concert’s repertoire on Sunday, June 11, at 7 p.m. at the Manchester Bicentennial Band Shell. For more information, visit: