Two months from now New Albany Elementary School students will play music with a professional symphony orchestra for the first time ever.
Since the start of the current school year fifth and sixth grade music students have been preparing for the April 22nd concert, which will be at the New Albany High School Auditorium. A program sponsored by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, the North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, the New Albany Symphony League and generous local contributors has made the program available to New Albany students this year for the first time.
Using materials furnished by the Carnegie organization, New Albany Elementary Schools Music Teacher Celia House has been working with her students as they practice for their first experience playing with a large orchestra.
Steven Byess, conductor of the North Mississippi Symphony, traveled here from his home in Portland, Oregon, and met with members of the New Albany Symphony League to further develop plans for the April 22nd event. “The students will not be a passive audience, but will be active participants,” said Byess.
Byess praised the work Celia House has been doing with the Carnegie program since it was first introduced in the Tupelo Public Schools several years ago. A life-long resident of Union County and a graduate of the music department of Blue Mountain College, House had, until this school year, been commuting to Tupelo to teach music in that city’s public schools.
She was hired by the New Albany Public Schools last year and now teaches music full-time at the elementary school.
Collett Cross, who is leading the New Albany Symphony League’s fund-raising efforts, said the Symphony League had wanted to sponsor the Carnegie symphony program in the local public schools for several years, but that it had not been possible until House was hired to teach here.
Byess will come to New Albany again before the April 22nd concert, and will work with the New Albany Elementary music students in their classrooms.
Lynn Mize, a music teacher in the Tupelo Public Schools, is in charge of music education for the North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra. She attended the Thursday meeting here and discussed logistics for the performance with House and members of the Symphony League. Sean Johnson, marketing director for the City of New Albany, participated in the meeting.
Also present were Symphony League Members Joyce Sumners, Collett Cross, Joanne Lesley and Jean Ashcraft.