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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

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