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In the Schools Guest Column

Strings Fest 2014 Showcased Randolph Students and The Shanghai Quartet

Jennifer Drury

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 • 10:40pm

RANDOLPH,NJ- District-wide orchestra students showed their skills in String Fest with Shanghai Quartet, on Monday Feb. 24.

The String Fest 2014 showcased a number of talented orchestra students from elementary through high school in the newly finished high school auditorium. The program for the night also included a special guest performance from Shanghai String Quartet.

Mr. David Imhof welcomed the fully packed audience, telling of the importance of music. He then went on to point out that the Shanghai String Quartet "At one time were elementary students too."

Mrs. Ruzanna Akopjan and Ms. Kimberly Chiesa directed the 5th grade string ensembles in their performance of Fancy Fiddles and The Chicken Dance.

“It was so cute,” Cali Janulis, a member of Randolph High School’s Chamber Strings and Arietta, said.  “Everyone by me was dancing.”

The 7th and 8th grade orchestra was directed by Mrs. Hsiao-yu Lin Griggs. Out of the three songs they played, Ralph Ford's Hyperdrive seemed to be an audience favorite with its high energy, theatrical feel.

The high school orchestras took the stage next, lead by Mr. Eric Schaberg. The String Orchestra played their own version of the Star Trek theme song with a video provided by senior Victoria Pereira.  "[It's] Victoria's little spice and take on it," Mr. Schaberg said. 

The Chamber Strings played Mozart's famous Serenade (Eine kleine Nachtmusik), sounding quite professional.  Arietta also paid tribute to Mozart through the three movements of Divertimento 3 (Kochel No. 138).

“Overall, I think it was a pretty seamless night,” Janulis said.  “There were no broken instruments and no injuries, so generally successful.”

The high school students funneled off stage as Mr. Schaberg welcomed the Shanghai String Quartet.  "You are in for a treat," he told the audience.  "You don't get this in many high schools."

The Shanghai Quartet travels internationally to perform, but is a Quartet-in-Residence at Montclair State University. Cellist Nicholas Tzavaras introduced the group, saying they would be playing four movements of Giuseppe Verdi's String Quartet in e minor.  He described each movement. The first, “energetic”. The second, “a waltz”. The third, “an interlude”. And the fourth, "not easy for us," as Tzavaras put it.  "We usually screw it up," he said with a laugh.

The warning was not needed though, because the quartet failed to be anything less than flawless. They even received a standing ovation from the crowd.

"I would have died to get an opportunity like this when I was young, and I know that my students will really be impacted in a positive way by this performance." Schaberg said of the experience as a whole.

The quartet left the stage while 5th grade, middle school and high school strings piled on stage and into the aisles for a melodious performance of Twinkling Stars. The high school orchestra lead the other students through the piece.  Sounds of bows sliding down strings were felt in surround-sound throughout the auditorium, and the room understood just how important music could be.

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