Published: Dec 14, 2011 02:00 AM
Modified: Dec 13, 2011 01:28 PM
Violin One, you can bring out that part more," said Cary High School Choral Director Edward Yasick as he lifted his baton to rehearse "O, Inexpressible As Sweet" again.
As the strings swelled and voices joined in, composer Victor Rosenbaum left the stage to take in the sound from the front row of the auditorium.
Rosenbaum is the first of three composers to visit Cary High School for the Composer in the Classroom Project, part of the school's Innovative Teaching Practices initiative for 2011-12. In March 2012, Robert Nosow of Jacksonville, N.C., will visit and share his work, and in May, both band and orchestra will perform a piece by Raleigh composer Tom Lohr.
"It is exciting and energizing to work with students on a path of youthful discovery," said Rosenbaum. During classes on music theory, orchestra and chorus at Cary High, he answered students' questions about his career as a concert pianist and composer.
"Students asked about the possibilities of a career in music, how to prepare, and the possible pathways a musician can take," said Rosenbaum. "My eclectic life is an example of how you can put many things together. My main focus has been performance, with composing being secondary. But music is multifaceted. I hope students took away from our talk that music is a language we can use to express the human condition."
He later praised students performing his piece, written in 1958 when he was a high school student in Indianapolis. First composed for women's voices and based on a poem by George Edward Woodberry, "O, Inexpressible As Sweet" was performed again this summer when Rosenbaum reunited with his high school chorus. Cary High School Orchestra Director Marta Findlay-Partridge then collaborated with Rosenbaum by scoring his vocal work for strings.
The piece was performed by 28 orchestra members and 60 chorus members Dec. 8 at Cary High's Winter Choral Concert.
Findlay-Partridge said the collaboration among composer, choral students and orchestra students affected everyone. "The texture when working all together is very different from when the orchestra rehearses alone," she said. "The notes on the page are illuminated."
"For the vocal students, they have to focus even more on enunciation, and the strings really bring out the emotion in the music," said Yasick.
Findlay-Partridge said she came out of retirement two years ago because of the opportunity to work with musicians like Yasick and Rosenbaum. "These opportunities are part of what we all learn music for," she said. "We are tremendously lucky."