Concert at Pine-Richland features music from 'West Side Story'

Deborah Deasy
| Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013, 9:57 p.m.

Music from Leonard Bernstein's “West Side Story” and Igor Stravinsky's “Firebird Suite” are on the must-learn list for 147 young instrumentalists set to wow audiences at Pine-Richland High School.

Bassist Jeff Turner of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will lead a concert by the 10th- through 12th-graders at 7 p.m. Jan. 12 in the school's auditorium. Admission is $5 at the door.

The concert will close the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) District 1 Orchestra Festival.

Concert goers also will hear Franz Schubert's “Unfinished Symphony (No. 8 in B Minor)” and portions of George Bizet's “Carmen Suite No. 1.”

“It's going to be high level ... a very pleasant experience,” said violinist Elisa Mata, host of the Jan. 10 to 12 festival, along with Pine-Richland School District.

Mata, 34, of Pine is the district's orchestra director and chief organizer of the festival.

“It's good for our students, and because I'm hosting, I can have a larger percentage of students participate,” said Mata, one of Pine-Richland School District's two string instrument teachers.

The PMEA annually sponsors similar orchestra festivals in a dozen geographical districts across Pennsylvania.

Band directors and music teachers in 40-plus school districts in Allegheny, Washington and Westmoreland counties auditioned or chose participants for the festival at Pine-Richland High School.

Ten Pine-Richland High School students will participate in the event: 10th grade violinists Christine Dawson and Joe Shannon; 10th grade flutist Jia Kim; 11th grade violinists Amelia Clarke, Abby Newell and Emily Reiling; 11th grade violist Woo Tae Kim; 12th grade violist Camille Boufford; 12th grade cellist Lauren Berlin; and 12th grade bassist Sam Lewis.

During the festivals, students will meet peers who share a serious dedication to musicianship, according to Mata. They also may audition to perform with PMEA-sponsored regional and state orchestras.

A banquet and two days of intense rehearsals with Turner and other professional musicians will precede the teenagers' festival-closing concert.

“They're working with a college-level conductor ... He's played with and been around all the great players in the world,” Mata said. “You're giving them an opportunity to play really high-level music.”

Turner taught Mata at Duquesne University, where Turner directs the Duquesne Symphony Orchestra and Mata received a bachelor's degree in violin performance and music education, plus, an artist's diploma — similar to a master's degree — in violin performance.

“He's a great person, super organized,” Mata said about Turner.

Mata's parents introduced her to the violin as a toddler through the Suzuki method of violin training.

Mata now plays violin in the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra and Butler Symphony Orchestra. She also performs with her husband — violist and violinist Jhonnatan Mata — in the Mata String Quartet.

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or

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