Teagen Kobylarz, Mia Hannevold and Carson Cobb from Soldotna Elementary School play their recorders during “Link Up: The Orchestra Rocks!” at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska on Jan. 21, 2017. (Photo courtesy Sue Biggs/Kenai Peninsula Orchestra)

Teagen Kobylarz, Mia Hannevold and Carson Cobb from Soldotna Elementary School play their recorders during “Link Up: The Orchestra Rocks!” at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska on Jan. 21, 2017. (Photo courtesy Sue Biggs/Kenai Peninsula Orchestra)

Kids, orchestra to make music together

“Link Up: Orchestra Rocks!” allows third, fourth and fifth graders to perform with an orchestra.

Students from local elementary schools will have a chance this weekend to perform onstage with musicians from the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra.

“Link Up: Orchestra Rocks!” is a program developed by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute where third, fourth and fifth graders learn to play instruments and sing with an orchestra. Sue Biggs, education liaison for the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra, brought the program to the peninsula after attending training and a performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City about seven years ago.

Biggs said that kids from local elementary schools have been practicing with recorders and violins melodies written specifically to be accessible for younger musicians so that the students can accompany the orchestra on well-known pieces, such as the Anvil Chorus from the opera “Il Trovature” by Giuseppe Verdi. During the two performances — one to be held in Homer and one in Kenai —more than 100 kids will join the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra onstage.

The participating elementary schools and music programs include Aurora Borealis, K-Beach Elementary, Mountainview Elementary, Nikiski North Star Elementary, Soldotna Elementary, Soldotna Montessori, Sterling Elementary, Big Fireweed Academy, Little Fireweed Academy, West Homer Elementary, Paul Banks Preludes, Homer Youth String Orchestra Club and Connections Homeschool.

“It’s amazing to see the kids onstage and give them a chance to participate with professionals,” Biggs said.

Tammy Vollom-Matturro, conductor for the orchestra, has helped conduct Link Up events since they first came to the peninsula. Vollom-Matturro said that she loves conducting for the kids, although it does present unique challenges.

“I kind of feel like an air traffic controller more than a conductor,” Vollom-Matturro said. “But it’s a great time, there’s a lot of laughs.”

Kailey Mucha, music teacher for K-Beach Elementary, said that her third graders have been practicing with their recorders since October and are excited to play this weekend.

Link Up will have two concerts. The first will be at Kenai Central High School Friday night, starting at 7 p.m.

The second performance will be Saturday at Homer High School at 3 p.m. Both concerts are free and open to the public.

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