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

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community 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.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid