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Young soloists to perform at Symphony’s ‘Family Concert’

SALISBURY — This year’s Salisbury Symphony Family Concert will feature a number of young performers as stars of the show.

The concert will be at 4 p.m Feb. 18 in Varick Auditorium at Livingstone College.

In addition to nearly 150 local fifth-grade honors chorus students, a 14-year-old violinist and a 16-year-old cellist will also get a chance to shine.

“It’s a real celebration of young musicians,” said James Harvey, executive director of the symphony.

Caroline Smoak, 14, a violinist from Charlotte, will perform in the first movement of Barber’s “Violin Concerto.”

Cellist Kevin Agner, 16, will be featured in Elgar’s “Cello Concerto.”

The Rowan County Fifth-Grade Honors Chorus will perform in “Gloria Tibi” from Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass,” and “Somewhere” from Bernstein’s “West Side Story.”

Livingstone alumnus and baritone Dairon McGraw will join the Honors Chorus in “Gloria Tibi” and will also perform a solo in Bernstein’s “Simple Song.”

Caroline Smoak began studying violin at age 5. In the summer of 2016, Caroline was one of the youngest students at the Heifetz International Music Institute, and she studied with Itzhak Perlman at this past summer’s Perlman Music Program in New York.

In 2016, she won the junior division of the Peter Perret Youth Talent Search. In 2017, she won the Charlotte Symphony Young Artist Competition Junior Division, the state round for the MTNA Junior Division competition and the senior division of the Peter Perret Youth Talent Search.

Kevin Agner, a Salisbury native and an 11th-grader at Gray Stone Day School, is a member of the Greensboro Symphony Youth Orchestra and Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra. He will participate in the 2017 North Carolina All State Honors Orchestra.

Kevin played solo with the Salisbury Symphony at the 2016 Pops at the Post concert and has been a member of the Salisbury Symphony orchestra for two seasons of “The Nutcracker.”

For these young people, the concert is more than just an opportunity to share their talent.

“It’s really an opportunity to develop their talent and to make them professionals,” Harvey said.

Performance music can he a hard industry to get into.

“Until you can develop your art and have professional experiences, you’re really kind of treading water,” he said.

And it’s a positive for the symphony, as well, Harvey said.

“I think an orchestra that’s our size has the obligation to nurture and to provide opportunities,” he said.

Symphony members have worked closely with young musicians, including Kevin Agner. Harvey said he thinks the symphony as a whole is pleased to be able to perform with younger players.

But it’s still a step forward.

“This is the first time I’m aware of that we’ve had such young soloists,” he said.

Bernstein’s “Overture to Candide,” “Turkey Trot,” and further selections from “West Side Story” round out the bill.

Dairon McGraw will return to Salisbury, having graduated at Livingstone College in 2015 and earning a bachelor’s degree in music. He has since gone on to perform the principal role of Archangel Gabriel in “Gloria” at Busch Gardens’ Christmas Town in Williamsburg, Virginia.

The Rowan County Fifth-Grade Honors Chorus has about 120 members from 20 schools across Rowan County. Music teachers select students to represent their schools in the ensemble.

“If you haven’t experienced orchestral music, this is the chance,” Harvey said.

The Salisbury Symphony Orchestra is under the direction of Music Director David Hagy. The concert is sponsored by Bill and Nancy Stanback.

Tickets range from $2 to $20. Visit www.salisburysymphony.org or call 704-216-1513.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264. 



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