250 young area musicians take part in Gala of Music


April 11, 2001|By Donna Koros Stramella | Donna Koros Stramella,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

THE MUSIC PROGRAM at Glen Burnie High School hit a sweet note over the weekend. About 250 young musicians from Glen Burnie High and its feeder system - Marley and Corkran middle schools, and Oakwood, Quarterfield, Richard Henry Lee, Woodside, Freetown, Glendale, Marley and Point Pleasant elementaries - performed in the Glen Burnie Gala of Music.

The second annual gala was staged at the high school Saturday. The high school band and orchestra director, Jeff Thompson, took part in a similar program in a previous teaching assignment at Meade High School.

"I started it last year at Glen Burnie," he said. "This shows the younger students that they will be with this great group of musicians in middle and high school."

In all, 65 elementary string players and 25 middle and high school string players participated. For band, 90 elementary children and 70 middle and high school students performed.

Although the program may become a catalyst for improving the quality and quantity of the high school band, Thompson said his intention was to help younger musicians stretch their capabilities.

"It's exciting for elementary school students to play with a 90-piece band," he said. "In their own school, they might be playing with a group of 20."

For middle school pupils, the program presents an opportunity to play more difficult music. "It really gives advanced students a challenge," Thompson said.

In addition to Thompson, Marley Middle band director John Humphrey and Corkran Middle band director Tony Wade conducted the young musicians, with longtime county music teacher William Schater as a guest conductor.

"He was my string teacher at Maryland City Elementary School," Thompson said of Schater. "He was an inspirational teacher and musician to me."

The band program at Glen Burnie High is growing, according to its director. Last year, 45 musicians participated in the band. Sixty students are members this year. And it's not just the numbers that are changing.

"The quality of the musicianship has certainly improved this year," Thompson said.

This month, Glen Burnie High's musicians will put their talent to the test at a national competition in Orlando, Fla. Eight students - members of the marching band, concert band, full orchestra, string orchestra, jazz band, pom-pom squad and color guard - will be attending the competition April 18 to 23.

"Some scholarships may be awarded to seniors as a result of the competition," Thompson said.

Two seniors have received good news on their future music careers: Patrick Semke and Andy Derouin have been accepted as musicians by the Washington-based Army Band.

Easter baskets for needy

Happy Helpers for the Homeless, a Glen Burnie youth service organization, will distribute 300 Easter baskets this weekend to homeless children and adults in Baltimore and Glen Burnie - its eighth annual basket distribution.

The youth volunteers will also deliver Easter baskets to several impoverished Guatemalan families on the Eastern Shore.

The generosity of Happy Helpers will continue as the group celebrates National Youth Service Day. On April 20, the young volunteers will treat homeless children and their parents to a day at Jeepers, an indoor amusement facility in Glen Burnie. The guests will receive dinner, rides, games and gifts.

"For this one evening, the children do not have to worry about whether or where they'll have dinner," said Happy Helpers founder Amber Coffman. "Instead, they can focus on the joys of being children."

To donate items for the baskets or learn more about the group: 410-766-4973.

Easter cantata

The Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church adult choir will present the cantata "Redeeming Love" at 11:30 a.m. Easter, with Mass at noon.

"It's the story of the Passion put to words and music," said the choir director, Kathi Hiett.

This is the second year the 12-member group has presented an Easter cantata.

Hiett started playing organ at the church when she was age 12. She later accepted the position of organist and choir accompanist at Severn United Methodist Church, where she spent 20 years.

Although she continued to periodically fill in as organist at Holy Trinity, she returned to a permanent position a few years ago. Since an adult choir no longer existed at the church, she organized the group for Holy Trinity's 75th anniversary in November 1999.

The church is at 7436 Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd. in Glen Burnie. Information: 410-766-5070.

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