Giving Strings hits one out of park
Oakwood’s Giving Strings is the arts equivalent of a grand slam home run or a 99 yard touchdown run. It began as a small spark from a very young but very gifted pair of beautiful young women.
Oakwood’s Colleen Judge got the idea for combining three irresistible forces, kids, music and charity. In 2000, Colleen, then an Oakwood student, enlisted her older sister Julia. Both were accomplished musicians, Julia on the violin and Colleen on cello.
They recruited other aspiring music students to play a concert on their street, Lonsdale Avenue, right in front of the family home. With the energetic support of their parents Carol and Tim Judge, the concert became a reality. Donations flowed in and were given to a local charity.
Returning to sports lingo, you could say, “That’s all she wrote.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. Much more has been written about the success of Giving Strings and the young persons who are its inspiration.
The tally, over $30,000 given to various charities, is prodigious. What has been given far surpasses the money donated. The concert has become a full-fledged musical event. Belying its name, there are now a few non-string instruments that sneak into the large orchestra.
There is also a full-fledged symphonic conductor. Affable Patrick Reynolds, Dayton Philharmonic’s talented assistant conductor, leads the annual concert. He is able to match the musical selections to the talents of the players.
Many of the musicians are serious students of their instrument. There are always a few beginners who sit patiently, their small-sized fiddles on their laps, for the big chance. The finale is customarily an arrangement of the “Ode to Joy” theme from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.
I try to circulate behind the orchestra to catch this magical moment for the youngest players. At a signal from Maestro Patrick, they pick up their violins and lustily play away at the few, but critically important, bars assigned to them.
What is uplifting are the looks on their faces when they take their well-deserved bows with their fellow orchestra members. They have played in a symphony orchestra. What a triumph!
The Judge sisters have moved on. Julia is a rising senior at Case Western Reserve University as a nursing student. While learning to be a nurse, she was elected president of the Ohio Nursing Association. Is there a message here?
Colleen is now a student at Princeton, setting her own records. The sisters passed the baton to two equally capable and lovely sisters, Clara and Ingrid Hofeldt. Under their leadership, the concert is now held at Shafor Park. The same format includes a cadre of charming Oakwood young persons passing donations jars and doing all types of service to make the concert a success.
This year, the weather cooperated magnificently. A sunny day yielded to a cool and clear evening. Crowds arrived well ahead of time and the sylvan backdrop of the park added to the beauty of the orchestra members, all sporting commemorative tee shirts.
Maestro Patrick proudly announced that the opening number would be nothing less than a movement of Bach’s third Brandenburg Concerto. The complexities of the Baroque master were well-handled by the youngsters sprinkled with a few graying heads and some members of the Dayton Philharmonic.
Demonstrating his wry sense of humor, Maestro Patrick had the orchestra play Purcell’s Trumpet Voluntary. You guessed it. There was not a trumpet within a quarter of a mile but the sprightly music sounded just fine on the strings.
The special guest artist was DPO principal percussionist Michael LaMattina. He brought a large assortment of his instruments and played dazzling solos on the xylophone and a collection of drums. The down side of his performance was that he probably inspired many very young would-be drummers who will destroy the sanctity of their family homes with their incessant beats.
This year the selected charity was the Dayton Food Bank. A special thank you was expressed to the hard working kids, led by the Hofeldt sisters, by the director of the food bank. The same thanks were returned to the food bank for their fine work.
Some of the ambiance of the evening extended beyond the music. The kids assembled on the grass began listening politely. After a bit, the spirit grabbed them and some were dancing, quite well, to the orchestra’s strains.
The finale, the “Ode to Joy” theme, was another singular feature. The right to conduct the orchestra was auctioned off and the winner was none other than music teacher Hilary Wagner. Her highly professional baton wielding would have made Beethoven smile.
Maestro Patrick reminded the audience that this could have been a first. Wagner was conducting Beethoven’s masterpiece wearing red shoes. Leave it to Oakwood to be on the cutting edge.
Also sighted in the orchestra was one violinist struggling to keep up. On closer inspection it was none other than Maestro Neal Gittleman. With Neal joining the talent pool, the future of Giving Strings is guaranteed.
Dayton Harp Ensemble to perform at DAI
The Dayton Area Harp Ensemble, along with its Celtic group, will perform a Summertime Harpin’ Concert on Thursday, Aug. 21 at the Dayton Art Institute as part of its Twilight Series. The program starts at 7 p.m. in the Renaissance Auditorium. The program is free.
Student art exhibit at DAI through November
Visitors to The Dayton Art Institute will enjoy a·muse, a special exhibition of art created by 67 of The Dayton Art Institute’s current instructors and students, ranging in age from 5 to 65. Works of art include jewelry, mosaics, sculptures, paintings and drawings. All of the student work was created in classes held at the museum in 2007 and 2008.
a·muse is on view at The Dayton Art Institute from Aug. 9 to Nov. 16. Admission is free.
Auditions for Shoe2 Jr. company
Experienced dancers between the ages of 10 and 17 are invited to audition for Shoe2, Rhythm in Shoes’ new junior company. Auditions will be held at 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 21, in the Rhythm in Shoes studio in the Metropolitan Arts Center, 126 N. Main Street, 4th Floor. Advance reservations are requested.
The mission of Shoe2 is to inspire kids to action in an open and creative environment and provide the opportunity for them to broaden and share their talents with their peers and their community. Shoe2 will appear with the professional company at the Victoria Theatre for the Young at Heart Series on November 15 & 16, 2008.
The performers will train two days a week, Mondays and Thursdays after school, with Rhythm in Shoes’ professional dancers. Classes will be offered year-round except for August and when Rhythm in Shoes is on tour. Tuition is $90 per month.
Auditions for Shoe2 will be at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 21 at the Rhythm in Shoes studio, 126 N. Main Street, 4th Floor. For questions or to register, call 937-226-7463 (SHOE) or email email@example.com.
Miss Camille’s dance program marks 13 years
Participants at the week long camp are shown above.
Dancers attending Miss Camille’s Ballet Summer Intensive are pictured here during an informal presentation for family and friends held Friday, Aug. 8 at the Oakwood Community Center. The Dance Program of the OCC serves young dancers from ages 3-12.