HCMC Outreach

Education Programs

Through educational programs the Howland Chamber Music Circle brings enjoyment, knowledge and skill in music to young people. In partnership with schools and community groups we sponsor Musician Residencies in area high schools.

In 2004 The Howland Chamber Music Circle, partly funded by a grant from Chamber Music America, brought the Daedalus String Quartet to the Wappingers high schools for a four-day residency. Members of the quartet held master classes, individual and ensemble coaching sessions and a wrap-up concert. This educational outreach project was so successful that it is now a permanent part of our musical endeavors. In subsequent years the residencies have been led by such distinguished artists as Soovin Kim, the String Quartet of New York, Soo Bae, and the Biava String Quartet; expanding and enhancing classical music experience to our public school students.

Currently, twice each year the members of the Jasper String Quartet come to Arlington High School in Poughkeepsie, NY, to mentor young student musicians. They work with chamber groups, mostly string quartets, and play in the orchestras alongside them. The quartet has developed a wonderful rapport with the students: encouraging and challenging them, as well as instilling in them a true love of performing music. The HCMC is proud and happy to sponsor the residency and overjoyed at it's continuing success.

Report on the 2015-16 residency:

This year the Howland Chamber Music Circle provided a String Quartet Residency at Arlington High School thanks to a grant from the William F. Ritcheske Donor Advised Fund of the Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley. This was the seventh year for a residency at Arlington High School and the sixth experience with the Jasper Quartet. According to all involved the Jasper Quartet did an outstanding job. Their relationship with the students was extraordinary and the students attained a level of playing which was truly amazing.

Arlington High School's residency with the Jasper String Quartet continues to be an absolute highlight and culmination point not only for their string program but the whole school. The four-day experience (two back to back days in February and two in April) concluded with a public concert on the evening of the fourth day. The concert featured the students and the Jasper Quartet, performing both orchestral and chamber works.

The 2015-2016 residency had three parts to it. First, each of the five orchestras in Arlington High School listened to a performance of the Jasper Quartet, and participated in a question/answer session about forty minutes long.

Second, the Jasper quartet helped coach the two most advanced orchestras, Symphony and Philharmonia, to rehearse their orchestral works for the final concert. Symphony played Portraits of a Country Fiddler written by twentieth century Finnish Composer Pehr Henrik Nordgren. Philharmonia played Variations on a Theme by Thomas Tallis written by Ralph Vaughan-Williams.

Third, each member of the Jasper Quartet coached the students from the Philharmonia Orchestra in their individual chamber groups. Each Jasper player coached each individual group at least once so that the students had a chance to work with every member of the quartet. During both the February and April sessions the student groups received at least four coachings. There were eleven groups with a total of forty students participating. Each group performed the piece they were working on in the final concert.

According to the Arlington music faculty the Jasper String Quartet did a truly outstanding job this past year. It was the sixth year the school has had a residency with them, and the relationship continues to grow each year. The members of the Jasper are incredibly passionate both as teachers and performers, and the students love them! The members of the quartet demonstrated that they are extremely gifted teachers, as well as kind, compassionate, and warm individuals. They inspired the students in profound ways, guiding them to become better musicians and hopefully better human beings. Everyone agreed the Jasper Quartet was absolutely outstanding and are hopeful that the residency will continue.

From J Freivogel, the quartet's first violinist,
"Having completed our 6th year in this remarkable residency at Arlington High School (AHS), it is very much worth noting the important relationships that have nourished between our Quartet and Jon Handman, Liz Handman, the AHS students, and the Howland Chamber Music Circle. This is meaningful to our group and truly heightens our ability to inspire, teach and make the most of the 4 days of this residency. Jon and Liz are phenomenal and do a fantastic job with the entire AHS orchestra program. Specifcally related to this residency, they prepare the orchestras and chamber groups in such a way that the students are eager to absorb our playing and teaching. One of the most successful aspects of this residency is the symbiotic working relationship between Jon, Liz and our Quartet. We are able to delve deeply into nuanced aspects of playing, interpreting and performing music because of the culture and level of musicianship Jon and Liz have at AHS.

"This year we visited in February and April, performing concert/conversations for the orchestras, coaching 16 chamber groups each over the 4 days, working with the top 2 orchestras, and performing as a Quartet alone and with the top 2 orchestras in the final concert.

"The skill and first rate level of the AHS orchestra program was evident from our first visit 6 years ago. In many ways, the strength of the program is even more impressive in the last 2 years as the level of music making has remained at the top despite the graduation of many talented individuals. I was a preliminary judge for the St. Paul String Quartet Competition this year, a competition like Fischoff that has the best young players from across the country. Usually the quartets that apply are from select music preparatory programs that feature 4 players who will go to a conservatory upon graduation. This year, a group from Arlington applied, unbeknownst to me until I opened their application. They may not have advanced, but it is a great achievement for these students who had to video record 3 different string quartet movements. They were the only entrant that did not come from a music preparatory program and it is a great illustration and culmination of the passion for chamber music that this residency fosters.

"Finally, I wanted to mention that our Quartet was awarded this year's Fischoff Educator Prize. This is a very nice honor given in recognition of a group's commitment to education through music. Our work in this Arlington residency was one important aspect of Fischoff's decision to award us this prize so the honor really goes to all of us! We thank you very much for your support of the residency and certainly hope to continue next year."

From some of the students:
"The Jasper Residency has been a wonderful and enlightening experience for me. Watching these truly gifted musicians perform was incredible but being coached by them in quartet and sitting next to them in orchestra is a feeling I will never forget. Seeing the passion that they play with inspires every student to strive for improvement. The constructive criticism that these professional musicians offer is invaluable and has helped shape the violinist I have become. I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity and I hope students at Arlington will be able to experience the magic that this amazing group brings for many years to come."
- Ciara M.

"Because it was my first year in Arlington, this was my first time meeting with Jasper. In my previous school, the orchestra program was not a priority. We never had special guests come in and I never could have imagined what an inspiring experience it would be to have professional musicians come in and coach us. They were very strict with us at times because they wanted us to reach our full potential. I learned new techniques and I was taught to look at music in a way I have never looked at music before. Every piece tells a story and our job as musicians is to tell that story to others. Every person also has a story. Every member of Jasper taught us how to use our stories and our emotions to portray what the composer was feeling. While one member of Jasper found our piece dark, another would picture seeing the smallest bit of sunlight and hope for tomorrow. I hope that someday my passion for music is just as strong as theirs. Thanks to Jasper I know that music will always be a major part of my life."
- Sara T.

"I had a great time with Jasper. I think that they all had amazing advice to offer, but there was one coaching where the coach just told us all to emote. She told us just to feel whatever emotion the music sounded like. After that, that piece of music was a lot of fun. I'm very happy that we have these Jasper coachings. They really do help me a lot as an individual player and a player in a group."
- Chris S.

"Jasper taught me and my quartet how to play the music with better tone quality, better intonation, and matching articulation. Generally, they taught us how to be better musicians and how to practice more productively and effectively. They gave us new ideas to experiment with as well."
- Katherine L.

"Working with Jasper is a unique experience for many reasons. First, to witness such musicianship and sheer talent so close to you is simply an honor. And then for that talent to be so kind, so caring, and so amazing in teaching music to others ... that is simply magical. Many great players are not great teachers, but Jasper is able to combine both talent and incredible teaching ability. The coaching sessions are truly inspiring and add new dimensions to the music we play."
- Adam C.

"Part of what is amazing about Jasper is the fact that four people who share a common love for music can come together to create beautiful sounds. The other part is the fact that they can share this ability, this musical experience, with high school students and instill confidence and a love for their instruments. I've had the chance to work with all of the members of the Jasper Quartet, and each of them has helped my chamber group in their own individualized way, making sure that each member is treated as an independent person, an equally important unit in the machine that creates music. They suggest things that expand one's technique, teaching students to think differently and to not be afraid of trying new things. Students have much to learn from their ability to work together, and have the opportunity to see what professional careers musicians can hold."
- Marisa J.

"I had a great time seeing professional players play extraordinary pieces, and seeing them synchronize together from the first note to the last. I also appreciated that they worked with us on our own quartets (in my case a bass quintet) and helped make us sound like a synchronized quartet."
- Naor I.

"Having the Jasper String Quartet come to our school every year was an essential part of my time in Arlington's music program. They always brought new perspectives to the pieces that we were working on and a love for music that really excited the whole ensemble and reminded us why we love music and playing with others."
- Julia W.

"My experience with Jasper was a good one because I could get different points of view. It was fun to hear advice from musicians who play different instruments. I especially think the Jasper residency is beneficial because they often had the same problems that we were experiencing and could address them effectively."
- Michelle K.