October 25, 2011
As cellist Jody Redhage gathered her instrument and quickly shuffled to another class of eager schoolchildren in Park Slope, she couldn't help but think back to when she was their age.
"I was really excited it was a fourth-grade class because that's how old I was when I first started playing the cello," she said with a smile.
Redhage was one of 30 cellists who were invited to Public School 321 for what was dubbed a "Bach Invasion." Each of the 1,360 students was given a taste of the musical stylings of Johann Sebastian Bach, the iconic classical music composer of the 18th century. The cellists went classroom to classroom, playing for the students and answering questions.
Redhage, 32, who just wrapped up a five-continent tour, said there was a stark difference between a sold-out 2,000-seat venue and a roomful of fourth-graders.
"It's much more challenging," she said. "There's not a single minute you can lose their attention. If the children are not interested, they'll let you know."
The Bach Invasion was the brainchild of famed pianist Simone Dinnerstein, whose child, Adrian, 9, is in the fifth grade at the school.
"I think about what would have been inspiring to me as a child," said Dinnerstein. "It would have been really wonderful to me if I had this when I was in school."
Dinnerstein said she came up with the idea about a month ago while on tour and quickly started calling other cellists trying to coordinate the day-long event.
"We're surrounded by pop music - and there's no way to get away from that - but not everyone is exposed to classical music," said Dinnerstein. "It was a long time to listen to music that requires a lot of concentration and [students] did a good job," she said.
Kieran Campbell, a student at Juilliard, said he enjoyed playing for the children as much as they enjoyed listening.
"It was great. You come in and they're squirming around and as soon as you start playing they're captivated," said Campbell.
The students - some of whom are budding musicians themselves - said the music made them happy.
"It was really good," said fifth-grader Ellis Shapiro-Barnum. "I liked how [Campbell] made different sounds with it. It seems really cool."
Shapiro-Barnum's classmate Amanda Sandine, 10, said she just started learning the violin and now couldn't stop raving about the cello.
"I really like the music it makes," said Sandine. "I like watching the string instruments and it looks really cool when you're playing it."
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/brooklyn/2011/10/25/2011-10-25_kids_get_bach_to_basics_cellists_play_for_ps_321_students.html#ixzz1btxPN0bE