Garth Newell students perform at NRAO

Green Bank, W.Va. – On Wednesday evening, a group of music students performed for a standing-room-only crowd at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. The students are completing a four-week fellowship of instruction and performances at the Garth Newell Music Center in Warm Springs. The students are standouts from top university music programs across the United States.

A quartet of Hannah Choi, George Millsap, Anna Griffis and Gracie Keith performed Franz Shubert’s String Quartet No. 14 in D Minor.

(Music clip 1)

Violinist George Millsap says the Garth Newell experience has been perfect.

“It’s the best time ever,” he said. “It’s been the best four weeks of my life, I would say. We have this great scenery, that we wake up to everyday and the mountains. We’ve got an amazing chef who cooks us two meals a day – they’re all great. Great things you can do. You get to rehearse for six hours a day. You get a lot accomplished. You’re working with great people. All of the faculty is great. It just is the perfect summer festival.”

Millsap will return to Boston University, where he is pursuing a Bachelor’s of Music in violin performance.

A quintet of Laura Longman, Abby Young, Meghan Yost, Aris Doke and Christian Gray performed Antonin Dvorak’s String Quintet No. 2 in G Major.

(Music clip 2)

Violinist Abby Young, of Ashland Oregon, says music conveys a variety of emotions.

“It depends on the piece, obviously,” she said. “This last piece, by Dvorcak, our group really worked on having fun and transmitting that fun to the audience.

“What’s hard to realize is that the composers who wrote these master works – they were writing while they were going through some of the biggest hardships that any human could ever go through. Mostly, Beethoven was deaf by the time he wrote his later works. So, he was dealing with so much torment from the fact that he was, you know, a musician and going deaf. So, I think that there’s just so much that the composers are really feeling as they’re writing.

“The first piece – Death and the Maiden – Shubert was dealing with the fact that he knew he was going to die, as he wrote this. Some of those melodies just absolutely tear your heartstrings.”

Young begins work this month on a Master of Music in violin performance at the University of Miami Frost School of Music.

Some people say the coolest guy in the band is the bass player. Double bass player Christian Gray, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, says the big bass fits his personality.

“I kind of think of myself as kind of a chill guy,” he said. “The bass definitely suits that.”

Gray speaks highly of the learning atmosphere at Garth Newell.

“This is a brand new experience for me,” he said. “Bass players don’t get to play much chamber music. It’s sort of a dream come true. Everybody’s great. We rehearse everyday – hours and hours everyday – both groups. It’s healthy rehearsal. You learn how to talk to people, learn with people. It’s fantastic.”

Gray will return to Boston University, where he is working on a Bachelor’s Degree with a concentration on double bass performance.

The young musicians perform their final concert at Garth Newell Music center on Sunday August 5. For information on Sunday’s concert, call 540-839-5018.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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