News / USA

Student Symphony Soars

Aspiring young musicians explore their talents outside of school

The Student Symphonic Orchestra of Fairfax, which students formed on their own outside of school, just celebrated its first anniversary.
The Student Symphonic Orchestra of Fairfax, which students formed on their own outside of school, just celebrated its first anniversary.
Faiza Elmasry

Matthew Martz was an 18-year-old high school senior in Fairfax, Virginia, last year when he founded the Student Symphonic Orchestra.

Now a freshman in college, Martz says the student orchestra provides an opportunity for aspiring young musicians to explore their talents and have fun while they're at it. Those talented young artists have just celebrated the orchestra's first anniversary.

Pursuing a passion

Music has always been Matt Martz's passion. He played the trombone in his high school band and remembers wanting more opportunities to perform.

"I was talking to some of my band teachers," he says. "They looked at me and they were like, 'I'm sorry but there is nothing other than the concerts that we play.' So I thought to myself, 'Well, I have a little bit of musical background and some free time and I might as well start my own little band and we can just perform here and there.'"

That's how the Student Symphonic Orchestra of Fairfax was born. It started with 12 members, mostly Matt's friends and band mates. Eighteen-year old Michelle Bui, now a Virginia Tech freshman, was one of them.

"Matt is one of my very good friends so I did it as a friend, but also because I love playing the violin," she says. "It's an opportunity for me to relax and express my creativity."

Matt Martz started the orchestra so that he and other students would have more opportunities to perform.
Matt Martz started the orchestra so that he and other students would have more opportunities to perform.

Student Symphonic Orchestra of Fairfax

Tenth-grader Lizzie Culberston, who plays French horn, joined the orchestra last year and hasn't missed a Sunday rehearsal since.

"First of all I get to see all my friends on Sundays, which usually I wouldn't get to," she says. "Plus, I get to play music, which I love to do. And we're playing really good music, too, so, it's really fun."

The Student Symphonic Orchestra now has more than 30 members and has just celebrated its first anniversary.

Sixteen-year old Nicholas Black is one of the newcomers. The violinist joined the ensemble a few weeks ago after seeing an article about it in a local newspaper. Nicholas says he likes that the music he plays with Martz's group is more challenging than what he usually performs with his school orchestra.

The student orchestra started one year ago with 12 aspiring musicians.
The student orchestra started one year ago with 12 aspiring musicians.

"The music here is more complicated and harder, but I think it's partly because it's also with woodwinds and brass, basically with a band," Black says. "At school we do just strings. We don't have a complete orchestra. This orchestra here adds a lot more challenge. I would actually like to major in music, so this is a kind of a step forward in that direction."

Mentoring others

At 13, oboe player Kanika Sahi is the youngest member of the orchestra.  

"I've never played anything like that before," she says. "They just show me how to be better, different techniques of playing and stuff like that."

Having musicians of different ages and abilities is not a problem, according to orchestra founder and conductor Matt Martz.

"I try to keep them in groups," he says. "If there is a player who hasn't been playing for very long, I try to keep them next to the section player, or leader as we call it, that has been playing a while so they can always ask questions say, 'Hey, I don't know what that means,' or 'How would I play this?' So they get that connection right from the person next to them."

Matt now attends college in another city. But, as his mother, Carol Martz, explains, the orchestra's rehearsal brings him back to town every weekend.

"This is one of his top priorities," she says. "He has learned to be more organized. He just doesn't skip Sunday night orchestra ever. He loves it and he really feels he's doing something for the community."

Community support

The community support, Matt says, is what keeps the orchestra going. It presents free performances in the local church where it rehearses, and receives donations from the audience.

"In our first concert, we made $1100, which was fantastic," he says. "That helped pay for a lot of music that we had purchased. Then this last concert in January, we made over $1500, which is just incredible. So it's growing. We can see that people are really liking what we're doing.

Matt Martz hopes the Student Symphonic Orchestra of Fairfax will become even more popular and grow.

He knows someday he might leave the group and move on with his own musical career. He hopes somebody else will take over and keep the orchestra together. But for the time being, Matt is focused on attracting more talented musicians and presenting a wider variety of music.

You May Like

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, even music are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. Faith Lapidus narrates a report from VOA’s June Soh.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, even music are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. Faith Lapidus narrates a report from VOA’s June Soh.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid