Neustadter inspires young musicians

Amelia Perron

Garth Neustadter, in his solo performances Tuesday, May 20 with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, was charged with perhaps one of the most meaningful tasks for a musician: inspiring young musicians.
The MSO, conducted for this event by Lawrence Professor David Becker. offered two “Symphony Soup” Youth concerts for local fourth-graders that feature orchestral excerpts that the young audience has learned about in school over the course of the year. Neustadter performed solos on violin, alto sax and voice, and show a brief film with original score, not only to demonstrate all the possibilities available in classical music, but also to show that those possibilities are available to young musicians.
“The idea is to expose kids to a lot of short excerpts from the classical repertoire,” explained Neustadter. “This might be their first chance to hear a symphony performed live.”
The orchestra will play parts of such famous works as the “William Tell Overture,” the “Finale” from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Bizet’s Carmen, and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. “It’s music that a lot of kids can appreciate,” remarked Neustadter.
No one expected a concert hall full of 9-year-olds to acclimate naturally the symphony culture, and orchestra members have been working all year to teach them about the music they are hearing live this week. “They’ve been working with the kids beforehand, looking at different composers and pieces, so they understand a little of what they’re hearing, and also about concert etiquette,” said Neustadter.
Neutstadter, a junior violin and voice performance major who already has an illustrious performing career at Lawrence, was invited by Becker to perform a thorough sample of instruments. “Garth will be an outstanding inspiration for these young students attending the MSO concert,” said Becker, “and he will be a distinguished ambassador for Lawrence University.”
He will sing Rossini’s baritone aria, “Largo al Factotum” from The Barber of Seville. He will play Gershwin’s “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess on alto saxophone. Also, the MSO will play his original soundtrack to a brief silent film; and he will play Sarasate’s “Ziguenerweisen” on violin.
While it may be easy to be awestruck, be assured that all these choices are for a good cause. “We’re interested in promoting to kids what they can aspire to, what their different options are,” said Neustadter. “Since they’re about to start fifth grade, when they pick instruments, it’s useful for the kids to hear all these instruments, and a sample of singing.”
With the inclusion of saxophone, the students will “be exposed to a little jazz saxophone and improvisation.” Seeing the orchestra play a film soundtrack, the kids can “see how sound is produced, and how the music corresponds to what’s on the screen,” Neustadter explained.
Neustadter is “really excited” to play with the MSO. “It’s an amazing opportunity,” he said, although he admits to being a little nervous about working with the professionals. However, his main goal isn’t to impress jaded professionals, but rather to excite and inspire young children. “I want to play as well as I can, of course, but the purpose is different.”
“These are kids who plan to be professional basketball players when they grow up. They believe they can do anything.” And hopefully that will involve music.

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