Students Shine under the Baton of Superintendent Steve Walts, Conductor
Posted on 08/01/2016
Superintendent Steve Walts conducting student orchestra

Hearts raced as proud parents jumped to their feet to give their sons and daughters a rousing, standing ovation at the closing concert of orchestra camp. As the last notes of “Olympic Fanfare” crisply punctuated the air, it was easy to imagine these young musicians grown up and performing professionally. The applause was well deserved. Superintendent of Schools Steve Walts directed the performance of “Olympic Fanfare” following a score especially arranged by Springwoods Elementary School strings teacher Jennifer Ransdell so that every student had notes to play. All 140 students and their teachers squeezed onto the stage in the Gar-Field High School auditorium for the finale with the Superintendent.

During the concert, ability-level groups played more than 20 compositions by Bach, Mohler, Brahms, Dvorak, and Tchaikovsky that showcased skills learned and practiced over the two weeks of camp. Older students practiced works they will have to play for all-county auditions in the fall.

“The goal is to play at the highest level of performance possible,” said Karen von Bernewitz, orchestra director and department chair at Lake Ridge Middle School.

The orchestra camp began with 20 students in 2005 and is expected to draw as many as 150 next year. von Bernewitz co-founded the camp with strings teacher Tami Nelson and has coordinated it every summer. Strings teachers and orchestra directors from schools across the county are the camp teachers. Future plans include options for scholarships for camp and musical instruments.

School Board member Diane Raulston (Neabsco) attended the concert.