The Moab Strings Program will perform a concert 7 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 19 at Star Hall that is “widely representative of the evolution of holiday music,” said Nanci Flesher, director of the Moab Strings Program.
Nineteen string students in their second year of instruction through the Moab Strings Program; plus two student piano accompanists will perform. The music will feature English, Polish and German carols as well as an arrangement celebrating Hannakuh.
“There will be a full string orchestra, solos, duets and small ensembles,” Flesher said.
A grandmother of one of the students made small Santa hats to put on the scrolls of the string instruments. The sticks on the students’ bows are striped with candy cane ribbons and red velvet bows top the tips.
“This is a holiday concert,” Flesher said. “They can wear Santa hats and reindeer antlers.”
The Moab Strings Program began in 2012 with the assistance of the Moab Music Festival. This is Flesher’s fourth year working with the BEACON Afterschool program. She began working with BEACON by teaching music to kindergarten and first grade students, as well as choir to other elementary students.
She has a strong background in music, with over 23 years of teaching music in Kansas and Colorado. She was also the conductor for the Amadeus String Orchestra in Colorado and the director of music for the St. Patrick Catholic church where she worked with 170 musicians in choirs, youth ministry and children’s choirs.
The Moab Strings Program students – that range from second grade to high school – have already had several performances this season already.
At the BEACON Lights On celebration on Nov. 17 at Helen M. Knight Elementary, the students performed the British carol “I Saw Three Ships”, as well as “Wenceslas Medley” that was arranged by Flesher based on the carol “Good King Wenceslas.”
“They did it flawlessly. They knew they nailed it,” Flesher said. “They received a standing ovation.”
The students also performed at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center’s Holiday Art and Craft Fair Dec. 6.
Three of Flesher’s students – Grace Osusky, Alan Snow and Asia Nielson – performed at the Community Christmas Concert on Sunday, Dec. 8.
Some of the students will be performing at the Grand County High School’s holiday concert with the school’s band and choir, as well as singers from the Moab Charter School on Thursday, Dec. 12.
Two of Flesher’s piano students – sophomore Neal Stucki and Moab Charter School third grader Elias Patterson – will be accompanists to the string students at the holiday concert Dec. 17.
Flesher said that both of the piano players are convinced they will be conductors someday.
“The reality is any conductor of any orchestra has to be a pianist first and have mastery of a classical string instrument,” Flesher said.
Stucki is well on his way, now as an accomplished piano player and cellist, Flesher said. Patterson will begin learning the cello in January.
“Neal is absolutely observatory-bound,” she said.
Stucki will play the piano as Nielson plays the cello for duets of carols. Stucki will also perform a cello solo of the French folk song “Snow Man”.
The two pianists will perform a four-handed duet together with Stucki’s arrangement of “We Three Kings.”
“He’s a fabulous composer,” Flesher said. “He’s been playing for at least eight years now.”
She’s particularly proud of the youngest musician, second grade student Liam Clark.
“He is spectacular. He can play practically anything. He’s just too tiny to put into the big kids orchestra,” Flesher said.
Clark just moved from one-eighth size violin to a quarter-sized violin.
“He is a sight-reading fiend!” Flesher said.
Grace Osusky and Alan Snow, who traveled to Kansas for the Midwestern Music Camp last summer, are doing an arrangement of “Jingle Bell Rock” for the viola and bass guitar.
“Alan will play both electric bass and string bass,” Flesher said.
She intends to take six students to the camp this summer.
“It’s an absolute blessing to work for these kids,” Flesher said. “I’ve never had the opportunity to teach this kind of one on one instruction. They’re inspiring to me.”
She held a theory master class for Snow, Osusky, Neilson and Stucki in November; and intends to hold another for more students in January.
The Moab Strings Program continues to grow. In addition to the 19 string students performing in the holiday concert, there are 12 first-year students being taught by Arla Jean Paskett. They will perform in their first recital at the end of February at Helen M. Knight Elementary.
Flesher expects the program to grow and hopes to secure two additional instructors.
“We expect six classes next year,” Flesher said.
Those classes may include one beginning class at Moab Charter School; two beginning classes at HMK; one second-year class at HMK; an advanced class at HMK and a string orchestra to rehearse at the Grand County Middle School.
Moab Strings Program to perform at a holiday concert Dec. 17
“It’s an absolute blessing to work for these kids. I’ve never had the opportunity to teach this kind of one-on-one instruction. They’re inspiring to me.”
When: 7 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 17
Where: Star Hall, 125 E. Center St.