Local students learn side-by-side with 'From the Top' performers

Junior Gonzalez
  • Students performed with "From the Top" performers a day before their performance.
  • "From the Top" held a special episode at the Strand Capitol Performing Arts Center on Saturday afternoon.
  • Local students said they learned new ways to memorize and create their own music.

Local students and musicians met Friday with performers involved in an upcoming episode of the National Public Radio  musical showcase series “From the Top.”

Far right: Michael Dahlberg, manager of educational programs for From the Top, conducts a performance with local area students at York College's DeMeester Recital Hall on Friday, April 14, 2017. (Photo by Junior Gonzalez)

The educational event, called “Spark the Music!,” drew about 40 area students  to York College’s DeMeester Recital Hall. There, they had the chance to interact with the musicians who performed Saturday afternoon at the Strand Capitol Performing Arts Center in downtown York.

“This workshop can really help musicians put their own stamp on their music,” said Michael Reichmann, general manager for the York Symphony Orchestra. He said the need for students to discover their “unique creativity” is very important to the development of a young musician.

“We need to give them those guiding questions,” Reichman said.

The performers: The rehearsal had students from local schools play their instruments alongside showcase performers. The "From the Top" performers — violinist Ben Detrick, from York; clarinetist Andrew Mazanko, 19, from Russia; pianist Baron Cao, 16, from State College;  violinist Daniel Rafimayeri, 16, from New York City; and cellist Zoe Lin, 17, from California — all spoke about how they got into music and gave a preview of their performances to the students and their parents.

Mazanko's musical journey started when he 3 years old with an introduction to wind instruments. He said he did not take up the clarinet until seventh grade, when someone from a music school performed at his school in Russia.

“I don’t know why, but I felt something inside of me that I really liked,” he said.

Soon, Mazanko started to develop his skills, worked relentlessly to get better, and, like many kids, started posting covers of his performances on YouTube.

One of his performances caught the eye of an American musician, who sent him a message offering to further develop his talents stateside.

“It’s a crazy story,” said Michael Dahlberg, manager of education programs for From the Top, who served as moderator and conductor for “Spark the Music!”

Another performer's musical journey started a little closer to home.

A Seven Valleys native, Detrick is a former member of the York Symphony Orchestra and is now a professional violinist living in Vienna, Austria. He is the middle-school and high-school director at the International School of Vienna.

Learning experience: Detrick told the children he came up with a way to hone his performances while driving. He said he writes lyrics about the sound he feels when he hears the music out loud.

“It’s my big secret,” he told the students, some whom didn’t understand how that could help with memorization. He performed a piece and asked students what they thought of it. “Mysterious” and “Intense” were two of the responses.

Then, he demonstrated his “secret” to the students.

“It’s time to go, my fellow men, and rain again, as the prophets were told,” Detrick sang as he synchronized with his violin.

The students were impressed.

“I liked his idea of making his own music,” said Jesse Schwartz, 12, from Red Lion. He said he will try the same concept when trying to memorize notes for his tuba performances.

As the 90-minute event went on, Dahlberg and the "From the Top" performers worked with the young musicians to find the meaning in a song titled “Gimme a Cue” by Betsy Hinkle. The rehearsal went just as any would— with sudden stops, suggestions, repetition and changes.

“We’re getting there,” said Dahlberg at one point.

By the end, the students made a slight change in mood to “Gimme a Cue” by expanding on its more emotional points. Just before their final rendition, the students were asked to come up with a new title to their track.

The winning name?

“Gimme the Cake.”