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Posts Tagged ‘Sarasa’

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Photo: Bruce Mendelsohn
A teen at a Youth Services center in Massachusetts takes a turn at conducting musicians from the Sarasa Chamber Music Ensemble.

Years ago, just before Christmas every year, I would receive a funding request from a volunteer who was concerned for teens held in state custody. He would write that these young people were largely forgotten at the holidays, and he would take whatever donations he could round up and go buy them small gifts. I always thought he sounded like a very kind person.

This past holiday season, I heard about a similar outreach to youth in trouble and wanted to tell you about it.

Cintia Lopez reported at WBUR radio, “On a recent morning, a teen living at the Metro Regional Center, a Department of Youth Services facility, nervously stood in front of a string quartet in a windowless recreation room. Trying his hand at conducting a group of classically trained musicians, he tentatively moved his hands like a conductor, setting the tempo for the musicians as they played Bach’s ‘The Art of Fugue.’

“His peers laughed in the background, while the musicians offered words of encouragement. When he got a better feel for the music, he began to dance, pointing his fingers up and down, bobbing his head and rolling his arms to the rhythm of the music.

“ ‘It kind of gave me a warm and kind of calm feeling and then as the tempo got a little bit higher it kind of gave me like a little adrenaline rush,’ another teen said of the classical performance. …

“The teens were being visited by musicians from Sarasa, a Boston-based chamber ensemble. Artistic Director Timothy Merton said he likes helping the teens talk about the music.

“ ‘They don’t have much contact with the outside while they’re there. And certainly not with arts programs,’ Merton said. He founded Sarasa about 20 years ago. … The group now performs in youth service facilities about a dozen times a year.

“For the teen, Sarasa taught him that he can listen to classical music to calm down when he is feeling angry.

‘I think it’s a very good experience for the youth here,’ he said. ‘Just to show culture that people aren’t always exposed to and it’s kind of like getting everyone to see other parts of cultures and kind of the diversity that the world has.’ …

“Later in the visit, violinist Rodolfo Richter played Krzysztof Penderecki’s ‘Cadenza’ for a second group of teens. The teens perked up at the speed at which Richter played, seemingly with ease. One teen likened the piece to an old ‘Tom and Jerry’ cartoon. …

“Here are teens, who in some ways have been hardened by life’s turns, awed by the sounds of a cartoon, revealing how much innocence they still possess.

“Seeing the teens connect with the music reminds cellist Jennifer Morsches of her own discovery of classical music.

“ ‘That’s where I learned much about classical music, watching “Bugs Bunny,” ‘ Morsches said. ‘And a lot of people react, young kids, react that way. It’s true and it does sound like Tom and Jerry chasing.’ ”

More at WBUR, here.

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