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 2016-17 residency:
This past school year the Howland Chamber Music Circle provided a string quartet residency program at Arlington High School. This was made possible thanks to a grant from the William F. Ritcheske Donor Advised Fund. It was the seventh year for a residency at Arlington and also the seventh year with the Jasper Quartet - coaching, teaching, and performing. According to all involved the Jasper did a remarkable job. Their relationship with the students was indeed extraordinary and the students attained a truly amazing level of playing.
Arlington High School's residency with the Jasper String Quartet continues to be the highlight of their year. The four-day experience (two back to back days in February and two in April) culminated in 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, giving them both a chance to showcase the amazing work they did.
The 2016-2017 residency had three parts to it. First, each of the five orchestras at Arlington High School listened to the Jasper Quartet perform and participated in a question/answer session that lasted about 40 minutes.
Second, the two most advanced orchestras, Symphony and Philharmonia spent four 40-minute sessions rehearsing and putting together string orchestra works for the culminating concert. Symphony played Psalm and Fugue by Alan Hovhaness and were led in performance by Jasper Quartet members. Philharmonia did Conni Ellisor's "Tres Danzas de Vida" for String Quartet and String Orchestra (a commission written for this same residency about five years ago) with the Jasper Quartet playing the solo string quartet part. Also, in March our top orchestra, Philharmonia, competed in the American String Teachers' Association's National Orchestra Festival and won Co-Grand Champions, receiving an opportunity to perform in front of the entire ASTA National Conference. The Jasper Quartet spent over two hours at an evening rehearsal coaching Philharmonia on the music we performed specifically for this event.
Third, each member of the Philharmonia Orchestra participated in four chamber music coaching's, one with each member of the Jasper Quartet. There were fourteen groups comprising 48 students and each group performed their work in the culminating concert in April.
According to Jon Handman, the Arlington High School Orchestra Director, and the Arlington music faculty the Jasper String Quartet did a truly outstanding job again this past year. It was the seventh 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! They inspired all of our students in profound ways, helping guide each one to become better musicians as well as individuals. The members of the quartet 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 is hopeful that the residency will continue.
From J Freivogel, the quartet's first violinist,
"We returned this year (our seventh) for two days in February and two days in April, coaching fifteen groups each, performing a concert/conversation for each of the orchestras in school, rehearsing with Sinfonia and Philharmonia twice each, and performing a concert together on the final evening as a quartet and with Sinfonia and Philharmonia.
"Through each of these different settings, we are able to bring students into the various wonderful aspects of music and music making. In the concert/conversations, we speak about the music and show why the pieces are magnificent, but we also answer students' questions and share what our lives are like as professional musicians. In the chamber coachings, we push the students to take individual responsibility for their part but always understand how their part is creating something greater together with their group. In orchestra rehearsal, we discuss simple things like how best to sit and hold one's instrument, but also nuanced aspects of breathing together and playing within a section. Finally, we perform together. In a performance you get one chance and this thrilling experience forges and completes our work.
"Learning an instrument, or how to play in a chamber group, consists of a series of small steps and accomplishments. Each time we visit, each coaching, each rehearsal, each performance, opens a door to accomplishing these small steps. It is a great treat to share our passion with the Arlington students and it is wonderful to see how they, both individually and collectively, travel forward in their musicianship.
"Finally, in February, we met for two hours at night with Philharmonia in preparation for their ASTA competition trip that was fast approaching. We are thrilled that they went on to win the Grand Prize! Jon, Liz and the students deserve great credit for this accomplishment. It is also a testament to the rich and long relationship we have with Jon, Liz and the students that we could work with the orchestra on high order aspects of music making right before the competition that built on our previous six years of work together.
"We are incredibly grateful to the Howland Chamber Music Circle for making this tremendous residency possible and we very much hope you see fit to continue supporting this endeavor."
From some of the students:
"I loved Jasper every year. Their time with us is so valuable and we learned so much from them. Hearing them play or hearing their comments is very nice. It's upsetting I won't be able to hear them next year."
"I absolutely loved working with Jasper this year! I loved getting different opinions on the pieces we were playing because it helped me look at and play my music differently. I also loved getting to meet professional musicians. We didn't only see how well they played their instruments, but why they loved playing and who they were as people. I learned a lot about different styles of music and how to really make the music come alive."
"Getting to actually play our Mozart Divertimento with Sam was one of the greatest musical experiences I've ever had. Our violist came late so Sam actually joined us by playing the viola part. He seemed so in tune with the music as if he were in another world just inviting the other parts to join with him. It is truly something I won't forget."