Midday on a Saturday afternoon, Hockaday hosted the second annual Hockaday String Festival with over 80 participants from 19 schools in the Dallas area.
Held at Hicks Auditorium and led by Festival Coordinator Sunny D’Apice, who also teaches Lower School Orchestra and gives private music lessons, the Hockaday String Festival featured string instruments that can play the Suzuki repertoire. These pieces were found in books 1 to 8 written by Shinichi Suzuki, the director of the Talent Education Research Institute in Matsumoto in the 1940s where about 1500 children studied in 35 different branches of violin classes all over Japan.
“Typically, in a Suzuki music school, everyone comes together in a very casual setting to play music together about once a month,” D’Apice said. “I wanted a chance for kids at Hockaday to do the same thing.”
In this repertoire, string instruments such as violins, violas, cellos and basses, along with a harp and a piano, played concertos, songs and choruses from composers like Bach, Handel, Purcell and Suzuki.
Last year, D’Apice gave out repertoire lists in the late fall. However, students received the program in January since this year’s repertoire list coincides with the music that D’Apice will be performing along with students at a concert at Carnegie Hall in June.
Although the string festival is set at Hockaday, the string players do not necessarily have to attend the Hockaday School.
When D’Apice started to organize last year’s string festival, her colleagues and their students wanted a chance to play their music together in a play-in. Therefore, D’Apice along with nine string teachers organized this casual setting.
“I think what turned out to be really surprising is how much fun the kids are having playing with kids from different schools from Plano to Highland Park to St. Mark’s,” D’Apice said. “It’s a chance for them to really know that there’s lots of other kids doing playing the same pieces.”
Of the 80 participants in this year’s festival, about half were students at Hockaday, mainly from the Lower School Orchestra. Due to a scheduling conflict, the Upper School and Middle School Honor Orchestra could not make it to this year’s string festival.
One of the participants was sophomore Lilly Okada, who plays the violin.
“I really like to play violin so coming here and performing in front of everyone is really fun and a great opportunity,” Okada said.
Also spotted at the Hockaday String Festival, Eugene McDermott Headmistress Liza Lee and Fine Arts Department Chair Ed Long enjoyed the festival.
“I enjoy the inverted program where the most difficult pieces are first, and then in the reverse of Haydn’s Farewell Symphony, in which finale musicians usually keep leaving the orchestra. In the String Festival, students kept adding to the group until the final twinkles,” Long said. “The sound of 80 string players is magnificent.”
Since Hockaday hosts the festival, the school also sells festival t-shirts. With the money from t-shirts sold, the proceeds go to children’s charities supporting the arts and music programs.
Last year, the String Festival chose to donate the profits to the Roots of Music, an after school program in New Orleans, and Big Thought, a non-profit that does school arts and music programs in Dallas.
The String Festival has not yet chosen charities for the proceeds this year.
“I wished that the entire school community could have been there,” Lee said.
– Maria Harrison – Asst. Perspectives Editor