St. George’s Music Program is an Arlington Gem

St. George’s Music Program is an Arlington Gem

Concert at St. George’s in Arlington showcases teens’ hard work

The professionalism and passion were evident right away: perfect posture, four courteous bows, the intensity visible in the movements of backs, arms, fingers, the vibrato strong and firm. They limbered up as though preparing for an Olympic event. Their cores were hard at work. The only thing betraying the age and experience of the 28 teen musicians was the braided pigtails and skin tight capris, the black shirts and jeans, the undercut and the flat top hairstyles. Their enthusiasm for the music, their conscientious obedience to the composer (Allegro con spirito was really lively) their communication with each other despite masked faces, were all impeccable. Their quick glances into the audience to see their parents or friends might have belied their age. But wow. You go to a concert like this expecting an out of tune note or two, an audible error. These were not kids checking a box for their college applications. This was extremely well played Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Arriaga, and Bologne. And these teens have only been playing together since September. 

And all through it, as he videotaped the event, Matt Richardson did a little swaying himself, tapped his foot to the time and occasionally nodded in appreciation when there was a particularly evocative passage played particularly well. Richardson, co-owner of the Ninth Street Chamber Music String Quartet, had mentored the teens along with co-owner Liz O’Hara Stahr, and Jennifer Wade and Andrew Rammon, quartet members, with a team of coaches. O’Hara Stahr was evident in the sidelines as she encouraged each quartet going up to play and coming back. 

O’Hara Stahr said auditions to join the intensive youth program are held in June and September. One of the great challenges of this program is the need to fill the seats of an actual string quartet to be able to perform the repertoire, so that means every ensemble must have two violins, a violist and cellist, ideally with matching skill levels and complementary personalities. O’Hara Stahr noted the strong relationship the 9SCM Quartet has with local teachers who taught the teens for years, giving them their base skills. 

When the concert ended, Richardson addressed the audience, mostly parents but some local music enthusiasts, reminding them that the quartets had to self-conduct, which is the nature of a quartet; they had to communicate with each other wordlessly as instruments played different roles, taking the melody, or providing the rhythm. They had to remain flexible in case someone lagged behind, cooperate in case someone lost their place, collaborate in order to achieve what the string quartet tried to achieve, unity of effect. Without all that, chaos could erupt. Richardson also thanked the parents of the musicians, for “trusting us with the musical education of your children,” and provided a few details on what donations mean to the group. “Every dollar helps us fulfill our dreams,” he encouraged the audience. 

Speaking of dreams, the new Pasi pipe organ at Saint Georges was evident behind the musicians. The organ has just been put in place and is being tuned. The remaining balance due for the American made 2,000 pipe organ and stained glass window renovation is $150,000. The organ is set to be dedicated the weekend of Feb. 11-13, 2022. For more information on the project, or to provide an Advent season gift to the church


To learn more about the intensive youth program or to donate to this group, see: