Spring Concerts include nearly 500 elementary students

By Loreen Berlin

Fantastic.

Four elementary school principals are called out of the audience to perform percussion with the GATE Orchestra during the recent Spring Concert, by GATE Music program director and Founder Julie Metz.

Amazing.

Nearly 400 GATE music students playing violin, viola, cello and bass performed recently during their annual Spring Concert at Knott Avenue Christian Church in Anaheim.

They are part of the Music Masters and Anaheim Union High School District (AUHSD) GATE Orchestra.

Additionally, 100 GATE music keyboard students performed the prior week during their final concert of the year at Orangeview Junior High School in Anaheim.

Listening to the students performing so precisely in such a short time from September when school begins to April when music classes wrap up and instruments are returned to the District is mind-boggling to say the least. The concert is a real listening pleasure and leaves listeners wanting more and thus, returning each year.

Students in the keyboard classes learn to read notes and master rhythm and then can continue to work their way up to performing a string instrument with the orchestra when they are ready.

The GATE Music program is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year under the direction of professional musician and founder Julie Metz. Her music staff now includes assistants Miguel Hinojosa, Ashley Kim and Anthony Troung. AUHSD GATE Orchestra Instructors include Metz and assistants Greg Adamson, Darlene Alfuso, Kihae Kim, Wellington Soto, Norman Soto and Miguel Hinojosa.

The District, with 22 elementary schools, has students who attend from the cities of Anaheim, Buena Park, Cypress, La Palma and Stanton. The Spring Concert opened with “Double Trouble,” performed by the Advanced GATE Orchestra.

“Let’s consider 25 years ago what was happening in 1993, the year of the birth of the Music Masters program,” said Metz. “Bill Clinton succeeded George Bush as the 42nd President of the United States. The average rent was $532, a gallon of gas was $1.16, movie tickets were $4.14 each and you could drive the average new car off the lot for $12,750; a loaf of bread cost $1.57 and you could mail a letter for 29 cents. Originally, Music Masters set up shop in four schools of the Anaheim Elementary School District. Then, on the recommendation of the Orangeview Junior High School music teacher, we also came to the Savanna School District,” she continued.

“The music director at Orangeview counseled, guided, supported and advised me and also shared his vast library of music with me. With him, I got to see a teacher who truly loved the children, loved teaching music and was happy to pass that love on to anyone close by,” explained Metz. “He was my go-to person for questions pertaining to teaching and during these 25 years, he continues to support our education programs in Anaheim; that person is Ed Craig and he’s here tonight.”

Opening the concert with “Kaleidoscope,” Metz said Craig had introduced her to the wonderful composition.

The next piece was “Pizzicato Pete,” that uses all of the open string notes as well as all of the fingered notes of the D and A strings.

“This piece reinforces the notes you want to teach students in the first year, as well as teaching the two ways one can make a sound on the string instrument, that of bowing and plucking,” Metz said.

“Pizzicato” is Italian for “plucking.”

The professional group “Stomp” is currently performing in the area and began its percussion group in the 1990s where they make sounds with objects such as an ironing board, brooms, tire rims and trash cans, to name a few. Metz said she wanted something like that for her students, so to save carrying a myriad of heavy objects, one of her professors from USC suggested, “Trio for Hand Clappers.” Metz said she was delighted with the idea. The GATE music students divided into three parts and performed “Hand Clappers” and “Barn Dance” for the audience.

The cello has been added to the GATE Music program; seen here are three students performing on the cello during their recent Spring Concert, along with AUHSD instructor Greg Adamson and Julie Metz, founder of the GATE music program on viola.

To help with percussions, four school principals were called forth to perform with the students; they included Dr. Friedman, Holder Elementary; Mrs. Helenihi, Reid Elementary; Mrs. Goodspeed, from Hansen and Mrs. Schnitzer from Cerritos.

Other musical renditions included “Toy Symphony,” “Sonatine,” “Hillcrest Impressions” and “Hunters Chorus.” Closing the evening was “My Heart Will Go On” from the movie “Titanic.”

For the AUHSD GATE Orchestra, no money for the program comes from the school district; all monies are donated and the music program’s snack bar helps fund professional music teachers.

The GATE Orchestra, a private 501(c)3 organization, provides beginning through advanced instruction on string instruments to public school students in grades 4 through 12 and piano keyboard to grades 1 through 6.

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