For the last couple of years, the Symphony of Southeast Texas has hosted a ‘side by side’ concert, during which, students from local high schools are invited to perform on stage with the Symphony.
This year’s Side by Side Concert theme was ‘Musical Stories’. It was all about storytelling – how the music tells a story, how the story is enhanced by the music and how we associate the stories we know with music.
After the Star Spangled Banner, Maestro Tipton led the musicians in Entrance of the Gladiators, a piece by Czech composer Julius Fučík. Then Overture from the Pirates of Penzance by Arthur Sullivan. After those two pieces, Maestro Tipton talked to the students about opera and how the story relies on music to set the tone. Then he changed the topic to ballet and talked about how the music leads the dancers to tell the story. We were led in ‘waltz 101’ with a group clapping session to learn the beat of the waltz, and then heard Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers.
Next up, we discussed how music plays a role in our lives without us even realizing it. Without being told what music was up next, the sympnony started playing. It was amazing to see the twittering among the students; how many of them recognized it immediately. To preserve the mystery, I am just going to link to it rather than tell you what it was. When asked for a show of hands after the song was finished, nearly the entire audience had their hands in the air.
After that, students from Westbrook high school came on stage. We recognized Karen Ji from previous performances, and Maestro Tipton introduced us to senior Dan Jacob Ellis, who plays the cello.
The first piece that the students joined in on was An American Symphony, composed by Micheal Kamen for the 1996 movie, Mr Holland’s Opus. The link is to the full song; the part that was played during the SBS concert begins at 5:13 if you want to skip ahead. The final piece was final from Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky, The Great Gate of Kiev.
In all, it was a fantastic performance by professionals and students alike! It is always such a joy and pleasure to attend these performances; we’re so very grateful to the SOST and their sponsors for hosting them.
If you’re interested in making a lesson based on these selections, here are some resources that might help:
- Can you HEAR a story?
- Composer Studies: Tchaikovsky and the Nutcracker Ballet Lapbook
- This lesson plan format can be adapted to the selections from this concert
- Storytelling through Music and Lyrics
- or share your own ideas for lesson plans using these selections in the comments below!