2010-04-22 / Top Stories

P.S. 219 Student Concert Sets Black History To Music

Choral director rehearses second graders. Choral director rehearses second graders. Second and third grade students at P.S. 219, The Kennedy-King School, recently presented a choral music concert for their classmates and parents in the school auditorium. Led by choral director Michael Sample of the Metropolitan Opera Guild (MOG), the concert incorporated multimedia slides, children’s artwork, and choral speaking as well as musical selections in honor of the school’s namesakes, President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King.

It was a different kind of concert, which showcased not only the vocal training the children receive in their yearlong residency with the MOG, but also the learning content in the areas which this collaboration supports.

Teachers from second and third grade classes met with Sample to select material that reflected a wide range of musical styles and genres African American artists have brought to American music. “Follow the Drinking Gourd” and “I Have a Dream” enhanced their studies of the Underground Railroad and the Civil Rights Movement. Selections from Michael Jackson’s repertoire emphasized messages of love and equality that his music promoted. Both students and parents were riveted when images of “The King of Pop” and Ella Fitzgerald appeared on the large screen behind the chorus. While the student performers shared their talents, they also conveyed the way music makes what they learn come alive.

Students recite Dr. Martin Luther King’s words set to music. Students recite Dr. Martin Luther King’s words set to music. Forty students from the residency returned from a visit to the Metropolitan Opera premiere of Gogol’s “The Nose” shortly before the concert.

Students in the audience were most appreciative, as they were aware of the discipline and concentration involved in studying an art form, whether it’s first graders studying ballet, the fourth grade studying violin or fifth graders studying keyboards and Latin American arts and culture.

Third graders in performance. Third graders in performance. “Principal Winsome Smith’s belief in the value of the arts is the foundation that makes these opportunities possible for the youngsters at P.S. 219,” said school staffer Nancy Wallach.

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