Kaleidoscope String Quartet Visits Talbot County Elementary School Students

Chesapeake Music’s YouthReach Program recently sponsored the return of the Kaleidoscope String Quartet of New York City to provide classroom visits at Chapel District Elementary School in Cordova and White Marsh Elementary School in Trappe. Students in the second, third, fourth, and fifth grades were able to hear the group perform in assemblies and provide small classroom instruction on its orchestral string instruments. 

The YouthReach Program aligns with Chesapeake Music’s mission statement to “bring renowned musicians to delight, engage and surprise today’s audiences and educate, inspire and develop tomorrow’s.”

Kaleidoscope String Quartet has been coming to Talbot County twice a year. Last December, when the group visited it also offered a free community concert for the public at the Ebenezer Theatre and there are hopes it will do the same when it returns to Talbot County in February. 

“At this time, the arts are having a difficult time continuing to attract young people at the level they have in the past. The pandemic contributed to that. In addition, audiences who appreciate chamber music are aging, so Chesapeake Music needs to invest in bringing younger people to experience and appreciate this type of music. This program is a way to build these audiences,” states Ed Smith, Chesapeake Music Board Member and YouthReach Committee Chair.

The performing members of the Kaleidoscope String Quartet were Caeli Smith on viola; Suliman Tekalli on violin; Erica Tursi on violin; and Laura Andrade on cello. 

“The Quartet members shared with students how they can communicate with each other without words, and how they pick tempos and convey that tempo when they start a piece. They also talked about the role of a conductor in a larger organization and had a couple of the students volunteer to come up and conduct the Quartet and change the tempos. That was a lot of fun,” Smith adds.

Another thing the Quartet did was to talk with the students about how composers include elements of their personal history and culture in their music. Students talked about what’s special about Talbot County and their culture, including the environment, the cornfields, and the crabs. Quartet members created a musical theme for the elements the students suggested creating an improvised piece of music that sounded very contemporary.

“The students were very interested in the music even though it may not be as melodious or familiar as a Mozart or Beethoven piece. Part of what Chesapeake Music is trying to do is bring the classics and keep up with what’s going on in contemporary music as well,” Smith explains.

Chesapeake Music Board member Nancy Larson adds, “I will say that those of us who were observing were just so impressed with how the Quartet so easily engaged the students, drawing them in and encouraging their participation which they did very enthusiastically! It was such a joy to watch.”

“The remarkable people behind Chesapeake Music helped to bring the incredibly talented Caeli Smith and the Kaleidoscope String Quartet to two of our elementary schools. The classroom visits, along with the grade level concerts, have been invaluable in helping to shape our students’ love of music, and in particular, the string family. Most other musical experiences that our students participate in often do not feature the strings in any prominent way. Chesapeake Music has been instrumental in working to elevate chamber music in our schools. I hope to continue this partnership for many years to come,” adds James Redman, Title I Coordinator, Curriculum Supervisor, Talbot County Public Schools.

Friends of Chesapeake Music who lived in Oxford housed the quartet which gave them a local Eastern Shore experience.