March 23, 2010

Racine Symphony puts on a show for fifth-graders

About one-third of RSO's regular membership performed the two concerts.

About 1,700 fifth-graders got a taste of classical music Wednesday during two concerts put on by the Racine Symphony Orchestra.

Conductor Pasquale Laurino led the symphony through two 45-minute concerts for the 10- and 11-year-olds, teachers and the public.

The symphony played the "Star-Spangled Banner," Mozart's "Symphonia Concertante for Winds 1st Movement" led by Bria Kaufman on clarinet, Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf," Mozart's "Marriage of Figaro Overture" and Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever."

Kathy Berg sang the national anthem along with the symphony, her husband Greg Berg read the story "Peter and the Wolf," and the entire audience helped Laurino conduct the final number.

The concert was part of the RSO's annual outreach effort to local schools. This year the symphony played for all fifth-graders in Racine Unified, several local parochial schools and home-schooled students. The public was also invited to the performance, which was held at Grace Church on Highway 31. About 1,850 people attended the two concerts.

"Part of our mission is about education," said Bonnie Prochaska, interim executive director of RSO. "To have opportunities for studetns to see the orchestra playing classical music, and a fun concert, like 'Peter and the Wolf,' is about educating our young people."

Fifth-graders raise their hands when Laurino asks how many play instruments.

This lucky fifth-grader got to take Laurino's baton and lead the symphony in Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever."


  1. Dustin - for decades there was a competition leading up to this annual "5th graders concert" for one talented young musician (high school senior or younger) from the Racine area to be soloist with the Symphony? Has that tradition been discontinued, do you know?

  2. I didn't see a fifth-grade soloist during the performance, but can't say if the competition has been discontinued.

  3. No, you misunderstood, wouldn't have been a 5th grade soloist.

    There used to be an area-wide competition for any accomplished young musician to perform (usually) one movement of a major concerto with the Racine Symphony.

    I can remember that competition as long as I've been alive - the winner would be soloist with the symphony at the annual 5th Grader's concert. Would seem it no longer exists - too bad.

    You may know of Janice Martin - she won the competition years ago as one of my mom's students. Was a great experience and "launching pad" of sorts for serious young musicians from the area. Others I know of that won have gone on to have fairly prestigious careers in the music industry all over the world.

    Maybe one of your readers can shed some light?

  4. Racine Symphony Orchestra3/24/2010 11:41 AM

    Caledonia Unplugged, you are correct. Bria Kaufman, the winner of the annual Concerto competition played with the orchestra and was a member of the quartet that played Mozart's Symphonia Concertante for Winds 1st. Another opportunity for students will be on April 17. Beethoven’s 5th Symphony will pair up musicians and students at the RSO’s final concert for the season.

  5. Thanks, RSO, for the clarification. Didn't realize Bria was the winner, but very glad to hear this competition continues. I can't tell you how many musicians I know of that either won the competition, or were members of the Symphony at some point, that got their feet wet with real orchestra experience thanks to the opportunities the Symphony offers young musicians.

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