National Symphony Orchestra holds workshop at Milligan

By Julie Fann
star staff

Luis Haza sits before a large group of young area musicians and, in a strong Spanish accent, compares using a bow for a stringed instrument to bouncing a basketball.
   Playing quick, staccato notes, he said, is as easy as setting the bow in motion lightly. Too much force produces a grinding sound in much the same way that pounding a basketball down a court will make the ball bounce out of control.
   Director of the American Youth Philharmonic Orchestra and a first violinist with the National Symphony Orchestra for the past 30 years, Haza, who is a native of Cuba, led a workshop Wednesday on the Milligan College campus for area high school and college students.
   "The youth of America is the best of America, literally," he said. "I work with young people throughout the United States. We may not know, especially at this particular time in history, what the future holds, but we do know who holds the future, and it's these children, and it's in good hands."
   Over 100 area student orchestra string sections participated in the workshop, including Milligan College, Dobyns-Bennett High School, Science Hill High School, the Johnson City Youth Orchestra and the Symphony of the Mountains Youth Orchestra.
   "We have never all gotten together to do anything, and I thought if we got all of these students together we would have this massive string orchestra of students and we could have a big workshop," said Kellie Brown, assistant music professor at Milligan who coordinated the event. "So I contacted all the directors, and they said, 'great; go for it', and I sent in a proposal and held my breath and they accepted it."
   From 3 to 5 p.m., the students practiced a piece of music they prepared for Haza as well as a piece written by a local composer, Jonathan Franklin, titled, "Arioso". A sophomore at East Tennessee State University who is majoring in information technology, Franklin said the piece is not connected to any definite part of his life. "It's very 'pretty', as most of my music tends to be. It's very tonal; very consonant. As far as a direct reason why I wrote it, I was inspired," he said.
   "Arioso" is almost four minutes long and is written purely for strings. "It's about average length," Franklin said. "It's not as large as some of the works I've done. Some of them with a full orchestra are more like 12 to 13 minutes."
   Franklin has been playing the violin and trumpet since the age of 10 and began writing music at the age of 12. He and Brown began communicating by e-mail and discussed the college orchestra premiering a piece he has written. "I wrote 'Arioso' in March and sent it to her and she liked it, so then one thing led to another and I ended up bringing it here," he said.
   Tennessee was selected as the site of the National Symphony Orchestra's American Residency Program 2004. The orchestra is sharing the experience of classical music concerts and educational outreach programs across the state. The residency program is funded by a grant for the National Department of Education and by several state and local funding sources.