Arianna String Quartet violist Joanna Mendoza leads a master class with music students from Edwardsville (Ill.) High School. The violist in the high school quintet facing the camera is Brandon Ansboro. (Photo by August Jennewein)

The Arianna String Quartet is taking a hands-on approach to fostering music education in the area. Composed of four associate professors of music at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, the Arianna is the university’s resident quartet.

This semester, the members of the quartet began a new program designed specifically to mentor high school students weekly in chamber music. The first semester of the program involved nine students from two high schools – a quartet from Kirkwood (Mo.) High School and a quintet from Edwardsville (Ill.) High School.

“It’s a program that showcases the unique commitment that the UMSL faculty offers not only to our university students, but as a resource to the community,” said Arianna violinist John McGrosso.

The students were specifically trained in chamber music, which McGrosso said requires a deep musical and technical commitment.

The mentoring sessions will culminate in a performance at 7:30 p.m. tonight (May 2) in the E. Desmond and Mary Ann Lee Theater at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center at UMSL. The two high school groups will perform alongside UMSL student ensembles during the Student Chamber Music Concert. The concert is free and open to the public.

McGrosso said the students were chosen for the program by their own high school orchestra directors. This was the first semester of the program, which is being met with much enthusiasm among the students, their parents and their high school orchestra directors.

“We hope it will continue and expand,” McGrosso said. “It offers the students an intense and in-depth musical experience.”

He called the program “a wonderful outreach and recruiting tool.” He said it gives the students something that is difficult to convey in a visit to their high school, “a real experience of the commitment we make to each of our students as individual musicians. They start to see themselves as university-level students, and start to respond as more mature musicians.”

Myra Lopez

Myra Lopez