Combined Symphonic Bands of Robinson Secondary and Lake Braddock Secondary Schools
May 23, 2002

Gala Concert
Robinson Secondary School Symphonic Band
Lake Braddock Secondary School Symphonic Band

under the direction of Maestro Leonard Slatkin

Slatkin's Crusade
For the NSO's director, music education is a personal mission
By Michele Capots

Sunday, November 11, 2001; Page W16

Leonard Slatkin still remembers his fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Otto. In fact, listening to him describe her music class, it sounds like he was just there. Slatkin, who came from a musically gifted family -- his father was a well-known conductor and his mother a cellist -- already knew a lot of what Mrs. Otto was teaching. But she brought it to life for him in that Los Angeles classroom.

"One teacher, one musical moment can be frozen in our memories to be awakened at some later point," says Slatkin, the music director of the National Symphony Orchestra. "For me, it was Mrs. Otto. She made it so much fun that we didn't even realize we were learning."

Since his arrival in Washington to head the NSO five years ago, Slatkin has made music education a personal mission. He organized a consortium that raised money and helped stabilize the D.C. Youth Orchestra when it faced funding cutbacks in 1998. When the Fairfax County school system warned that a music program for fourth-graders was in jeopardy if the board of supervisors didn't provide funding, he attended a board meeting to testify on the importance of music education. (The board appropriated the funds.) In addition, he's conducted the American Youth Philharmonic, and will be leading a concert next May with the Robinson and Lake Braddock secondary schools' symphonic bands -- two of the largest in Fairfax County.

His argument is simple: A fully rounded education must involve the arts. Important as subjects like math or science are, they won't necessarily stick forever with many students. But the arts, Slatkin contends, last a lifetime. "Music provides a sense of freedom and discipline combined that no other subject offers," he says. "It can open a world of creativity and imagination that the adult may not get, but that the child does."

The education program for the Kennedy Center and the National Symphony Orchestra -- one of the center's performing arms -- was already extensive before Slatkin's arrival. Indeed, Slatkin says, it was one of the reasons he decided to come to Washington. Today, the Kennedy Center continues to build on its tradition of promoting public education through concerts and programs that encourage students to experience the arts -- sometimes for the very first time. Last school year, for example, more than 7,300 students and teachers were treated to Kinderkonzerts -- instructional performances for pre-K through second grade that allow kids to touch and play different musical instruments. And more than 90 performances by the In-School Ensembles program brought classical music to students in the District's elementary and secondary schools.

"What's unique about Leonard is that he's not just a proponent for his orchestra, but a proponent for music in general," says Derek Gordon, vice president of education at the Kennedy Center.

Slatkin made his professional debut at age 22, in December 1966, performing at Lincoln Center as a part of the Youth Symphony Orchestra of New York. In time, he served as music director of the New Orleans Philharmonic, moving on to the St. Louis Symphony in 1979. When he arrived, St. Louis did not have a youth orchestra. So Slatkin started one, with a single stipulation: Every participant had to be a part of his or her school's music program. But much to his surprise, he quickly discovered many area school districts had no music programs at all. He helped the schools to start them.

"When I was a kid, the art and music programs in the schools were much more active, and alive," he recalls. "I hear many adults say today, 'If it could only be like when I was a kid.' That's why it's important to look back and ask ourselves, 'How did we get here and how can we help others to achieve the same things?' "

One way may be through youth programs and fellowships that offer students an opportunity to watch, mingle with and sometimes even perform with professional musicians. For students like Brian Hatton, a senior at West Springfield High School, the experience has been seminal. "Music education has defined my entire life," says Hatton, who was formally introduced to music when he started playing the piano at age 4. Today, he plays with the American Youth Philharmonic and is a member of the NSO youth fellowship program. "I find with music, I am better at solving math and science problems, at least compared to my friends who've never studied music at all. I can tell it's the music that makes it easier for me."

Gordon agrees: The arts "help solve problems through assessment, evaluation and cooperation; they teach you the skills you need to live."

Roger Tomhave, the fine arts coordinator for Fairfax County Public Schools, attributes successful students like Hatton to leaders like Slatkin. "He makes a difference because he does this every day," Tomhave says. "So many of our teachers are playing with the National Symphony Orchestra, or listening to the National Symphony Orchestra, that the message that Slatkin sends to his orchestra is passed on to our teachers, and then to our students."

Slatkin believes strongly that children can't be compelled to appreciate the arts. Even his own 7-year-old son, Daniel, must "find his own way." "I'm not pushing music on him, and I don't have to because he is surrounded by it," says Slatkin. Nonetheless, according to his father, Daniel "loves playing the piano," and also enjoys tennis and soccer. For Slatkin, in a world where children are bombarded by an enormous range of media and choices, music can compete.

"Music is perhaps one of the few things that cannot be destroyed," he says. "It conveys a sense of history in sound. It expresses virtually all emotions. The works of the past remind us of everything we feel. This in turn will carry us to the future."

Michele Capots is a member of the Magazine's editorial staff.

Reprinted from Washington Post Magazine, 11/11/2001, p. w16 © 2001 The Washington Post Company

<Gala Concert
Robinson Secondary School Symphonic Band
under the direction of Maestro Leonard Slatkin
Gala Concert, May 23, 2002

Gala Concert Program

Leonard Slatkin
Guest Conductor
Music Director
National Symphony Orchestra

James W. Robinson Secondary School Symphonic Band
Lake Braddock Secondary School Symphonic Band

Thursday, May 23, 2002
George Mason University
Center for the Arts

Professor Anthony J. Maiello, Host
George Mason University

Stanley R. Schoonover, Master of Ceremonies
Fairfax County Public Schools

Denton D. Stokes and Roy C. Holder, Conductors
Robinson & Lake Braddock Secondary Schools

It began with a simple question. The discussion centered on the fact that our music groups travel hundreds, sometimes, thousands of miles to perform, compete and hear other bands. But because of our schedules and the way festivals often run, some of the finest musical groups in the nation seldom get to hear one another. The question was, "What if?" With the wealth of opportunity and talent in this area, what if, in addition to seeking out the best of other regions and states, we created an opportunity for our students to hear another fine band right here? And so the idea of the Robinson/Lake Braddock Gala Concert was born.

From the beginning, we had the enthusiastic support of Principals Linda Burke and Ann Monday. The world-renowned Leonard Slatkin, Music Director of the National Symphony Orchestra, graciously offered his support and participation. Beverly Harris, his assistant, secured the concert date. Anthony Maiello, Professor of Music and Director of Instrumental Studies at George Mason University provided this stunning venue. Cheryl Nalbach, also of GMU, made logistic arrangements and arranged the banquet facility. The music parent organizations of Lake Braddock and Robinson, led by Mary McKay and Kathy Farenish did their usual terrific jobs of organizing, provisioning and making every arrangement needed. Roger Tomhave, Stan Schoonover, and the entire FCPS fine arts staff joined in the preparations. Thomas Engley, Cluster VI Director, supported the project from its first moments. The schools and communities, alike in so many ways, each helped support the project. Most importantly, the students in each band did the hard but rewarding work of preparing tonight's music.

What began as an opportunity for two groups of students to hear one another in performance has also become a showcase of what music education can accomplish under the best of circumstances. The bands on stage tonight are but two of many outstanding bands, orchestras, choirs and ensembles, all located in one school district. May it always be so in Fairfax County, and may it be for these students that one day, as parents they will be able to provide for their children an equal opportunity to achieve excellence and education in music.

Denny Stokes & Roy Holder


The Florentiner Julies Fucik/Fennell
October Eric Whitacre
With Heart and Voice David Gillingham

Fantasie Originale
Dustin Wright, Euphonium Soloist

Symphony for Band
Movement II
Leonard Slatkin, Conducting
Morton Gould

Robinson Secondary School Symphonic Band
Denton D. Stokes, Conductor

Intermission: The Combined Trombone Choir of Lake Braddock & Robinson

Galop Dimitri Shostakovich
Divertimento for Winds and Percussion
1. Exaltation
2. Follies
3. Remembrance
4. Salutation
Roger Cichy
Irish Tune from County Derry Percy Aldridge Grainger
The Carnival of Venice
Katie Schuh, Alto Saxophone Soloist
Symphony No. 3 for Band
3. Allegretto
4. Allegro con Brio
Leonard Slatkin, Conducting
Vittorio Giannini

Lake Braddock Secondary School Symphonic Band
Roy C. Holder, Conductor

America the Beautiful Samuel Agustus Ward/Carmen Dragon
The Combined Ensembles
Leonard Slatkin, Conductor


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