Oak Park and River Forest High School junior Trevor Kazarian positions his fingers on the strings of his cello and starts bowing the instrument after taking a few suggestion from Edward Moore, a professional musician who’s played the cello most of his life and for the last 16 years with the Chicago Sinfonietta.

Moore and fellow Sinfonietta orchestra member Terrance Gray instructed Kazarian and three other OPRF string section players Friday at the high school.

Friday’s instruction was the last meeting of the SEED program?#34;Student Ensembles with Excellence and Diversity?#34;at OPRF. SEED is an educational program of the Sinfonietta, bringing the professional and classically trained musicians together with high school students in master class workshops.

Moore and Gray, a violinist with the Sinfonietta, have met with students since February, working with them in small groups like Friday’s. Two other orchestra members have met with students at the high school, too, and they’ve met with student musicians at four schools in Chicago. OPRF is the only non-Chicago school to participate in SEED, which began its pilot year this spring.

Kazarian, who’s played the cello since the age of 5, said the instruction from professional musicians in a small setting was helpful.

“They’re more detailed and they concentrate on certain sections of the music,” said Kazarian, 17.

The four students performed Alexander Borodin’s String Quartet No. 2 in D-minor. Their instructors were specific on having the students listen to each other, one of the most difficult things in playing in small group, said Moore.

“I absolutely believe it’s necessary for musical development that kids learn how to play in an ensemble,” he said. “It’s a different skill then playing with an orchestra, and you have to listen in a different way, and in a way that serves you better.”

Gray said the most challenging thing for any aspiring musician is not simply listening but learning what to listen for.

“That’s our role,” said Gray, who’s played with the Sinfonietta for all but one of the orchestra’s 20-year existence,” to get them to listen for specific things that will make a piece sound better. If they hear something that they’re suppose to play with or play on top of, or under, you can respond to each other.”

Working in small groups, particularly in a quartet, the students also learn how to blend their playing with others, and how to play in a small ensemble rather than a large orchestra, said Chicago Sinfonietta Executive Director Jim Hirsch.

The Chicago Sinfonietta, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, has instructed middle school students through its Audience Matters program, instructing over the years mainly Chicago students who play in their school’s band or orchestra.

SEED began this year to target high school students, said Hirsch.

“The purpose is to introduce these kids to classical music, and to tell them who the important composers are, and how a orchestra is put together,” said Hirsch.

The Sinfonietta was put together in 1986 by founder Paul Freeman, who today serves as the orchestra’s musical director. Audience Matters was the first of its student outreach programs, which are funded by private donors, as is SEED. More than 50 students are involved in SEED at participating schools.

“They’re a talented group, very easy to work with,” Gray said of the OPRF group. “I think if they set their minds to play professionally, they can do it.”

CONTACT: tdean@wjinc.com

Join the discussion on social media!