Saratoga The Boston String Quartet is taking its unique EthnoUrban approach to orchestra music and showing high school students around the country that music education can be more than just Beethoven and Mozart.
“I think music education is generally behind in terms of students are primarily only working on a classical repertoire, which is great, but students aren’t listening to that music, so music education needs to evolve to learn traditional music and stuff they’re hearing on the radio,” said Christopher Vuk, first violinist and founder of the quartet.
The quartet presents workshops, classes and wraps it all up with a public performance during its traveling program. Students at Shenendehowa and Albany high schools spent time with the Boston String Quartet on Wednesday, Sept. 21, and were given the chance to sign up to perform alongside the group on Saturday, Oct. 1, at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.
“When I was a kid, we had a local French horn player come play with my youth orchestra and it was a great experience for me and so inspiring and exciting,” said Vuk. “I’ve taken that idea with this project and want to give students the opportunity to perform side by side with a professional musician such as ourselves.”
Joseph Gumpper, orchestra director at Shenendehowa High School, said 11 or 12 of his students signed up to take the stage with the pros.
“They’re going to be spending the weekend practicing and involved in a concert,” said Gumpper.
A total of 165 students in grades nine through 12 make up the orchestra at Shen, but the Boston String Quartet only spoke with about 115 during their visit.
“The response was pretty good. The students seemed pretty excited about it,” said Gumpper.
The EthnoUrban Orchestra “genre” might be new to many high school musicians, but Gumpper said his students already get a taste of that in class.