Musical partnership provides Nonnewaug High students with invaluable experience

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Musical partnership provides Nonnewaug High students with invaluable experience



Members of the Waterbury Symphony Orchestra visited Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury Monday for a concert alongside area students, who, school officials, say gained a more worldly perspective from the experience. Steve Bigham Republican-American


WOODBURY — Student musicians and professionals from the Waterbury Symphony Orchestra joined forces for a well-received string performance Monday morning at Nonnewaug High School.

The “Side by Side” event was put on in partnership with ASAP!, a nonprofit arts-infused education organization based in Washington Depot, Conn. that supports arts education through financial aid.

The concert was also made possible through a grant from the Woodbury Bethlehem Community Music Foundation.

The Inter-district Strings Project included students in grades 6 to 12 from Bethlehem, New Milford, Washington and Woodbury, who had been rehearsing alongside the pros since September.

The “Side by Side” orchestra performed for three separate audiences with a mix of both modern and classic songs, kicking off each set with “I’m a Sucker for You” by the Jonas Brothers before moving into works by composers like Georg Phillipp Telemann, Karl Jenkins and Lauren Bernofsky.

“We love being here,” said Waterbury Symphony conductor and music director, Leif Bjaland. “This is what we consider to be our most important job as an artistic organization, which is to go out into the schools and expose these young students to the joys of music.”

Bjaland said it was the first time the Waterbury-based orchestra had performed at Nonnewaug High School since COVID-19 and the completion of a major renovation to the school, including the auditorium, whose acoustics he called first-class.

Region 14 Fine Arts Director Jason Bouchard said students’ experience working with adult professionals is invaluable, adding that even if they choose not to play music for a living, working alongside adults in a professional capacity will translate to any field of study in college and beyond.

“It gives them a larger perspective of the world, which is a big part of what we try to do here,” Bouchard said.

The project was open to experienced violin, viola, cello, and bass students to train and collaborate with the Waterbury Symphony Orchestra. Participants worked in large and small groups with a member of the WSO to learn musical technique, how to play in tune and ensemble skills, such as being able to listen to other musicians while playing themselves.

Monday’s concert was live streamed throughout Region 14.

Woodbury Middle School eighth-grader Alisa Samodelko (left) gets some musical advice from fellow violinist and Waterbury Symphony Orchestra member, Lisa Laquidara, in between sets Monday morning at Nonnewaug High School. Steve Bigham Republican-American


Waterbury Symphony conductor and music director, Leif Bjaland, said exposing youngsters to the joys of music is "our most important job as an artistic organization. " Steve Bigham Republican-American


Area students performed side-by-side with members of the Waterbury Symphony Orchestra Monday morning in Woodbury. Steve Bigham Republican-American