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Sarah Hicks OnThis Week's Education Program
16 Mar 2011
North Carolina Symphony Blog
The orchestra is traveling in western North Carolina this week, presenting concerts to young people in Asheville, Cherokee, Shelby and Lincolnton. We spoke with Associate Conductor Sarah Hicks about what she and the orchestra will be doing and why it is so important.

Tell us about the concert--what will the Symphony be performing?
A really wonderful collection of pieces: a whole set of dances (a Tarantella, a waltz, a Spanish dance and a Hungarian dance), Rossini's famous "William Tell" Overture and a beautiful piece called "In the Steppes of Central Asia." Also, an arrangement of "De Colores" by the North Carolina Symphony's very own Terry Mizesko, and the thrilling finale of Dvo?ák's Eighth Symphony.

What do you hope students will learn and/or experience in this concert?

First and foremost, students will be able to experience, first-hand, the extraordinary sound of a symphony orchestra. It's exciting to have so many people onstage playing just for you! I will be introducing the instruments of the orchestra and discussing the elements that make up music so I also hope that students will learn a little about the orchestra and how music is put together. They'll all have a chance to sing with the North Carolina Symphony - "De Colores" is a sing along.

Why is music education important?
It's funny--no one asks why reading comprehension (or athletics) is important. Music is a part of all cultures and is a language we all speak on some level, and one that students should learn! Music education is also about fostering both creativity and an ability to work with others, which is a tremendously important skill. It touches on self-expression, which is so significant to individual development. I keep reminding people that music is what we turn to in times of joy and reflection and sorrow and everything in between. Art and music are what bind us to generations of the past and part of the legacy that we will leave for the future.

We understand the orchestra will be conducting a side-by-side rehearsal with the Asheville Youth Symphony. What is that and how does it work?

Members of the orchestra will be interspersed amongst the Asheville Youth Symphony players, and I will conduct the whole (huge) ensemble! What an incredible opportunity for students to sit next to professional musicians and learn from them.

You have conducted a number of education concerts with the North Carolina Symphony. What have you learned about performing for young children? What has surprised you?
Kids have an immediate and visceral response to music --they'll start swaying to it or bopping up and down to it. It's amazing to watch and a tangible reminder of how much music can move us! I'm always surprised by the amount of concentration. Some students are hearing an orchestra for the first time, and some are clearly blown away--it's an amazing privilege to be a part of that!

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