OSWEGO, NY – Never was the power of strings more evident than on Oct. 21 at the Faust Theatre for the Performing Arts in Oswego.
More than 200 strings players gathered on stage for the finale as the legendary professional Mark Wood completed a week long residency with the “2011-2012 Fire and Ice Tour” in the Oswego City School District.
Wood is an award-winning composer, international recording artist and electric violinist who is widely acknowledged as the premier electric rock violinist of his generation who was a founding member of the Trans Siberian Orchestra.
This was not the traditional strings concert as the sounds of John Lennon and Paul McCartney to Ozzy Osbourne filled the theatre.
Throughout the previous five days Wood visited Oswego schools providing workshops and concert performances for students of all ages. His enthusiasm was contagious and the final night will be long remembered by the 200 plus students and standing room audience of nearly 900.
Not only did the Oswego High School Concert Orchestra and the Symphonic Orchestra have the opportunity to perform with Wood, but the Oswego Middle School Seventh and Eighth Grade String Ensemble and the Combined Elementary Sixth Grade String Ensemble had their moment in the spotlight on stage at the Faust Theatre.
The evening started with the sixth graders filling the front of the stage for “We Will Rock You” and “Yellow Submarine.”
OMS strings players combined with Wood on “Viva LaVida” and “String Thing.”
Meanwhile the high school students celebrated with “Inferno,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Crazy Train,” “Palladia” and the tour theme “Fire and Ice” before everyone gathered for the grand finale “Hoedown.”
Paul Brewster, coordinator for the Arts in Education program for the Oswego City School District, said, “Mark is a consummate musician with an understanding of both the classical and pop music worlds. He brought messages of musical excellence, unlimited musical potential and, just as importantly, fun. He pushed students to think differently and go beyond what is the status quo. We are fortunate to have a musician of his caliber in our district. He could probably seek much more lucrative projects, but is dedicated to the advancement of music education and its importance in a complete education.”
Wood, who had been in Oswego five years ago to conduct a similar week-long musical ride, was enthused about the growth he had seen from students who were significantly younger and less experience on his last visit.
He congratulated the Oswego community for its support of an outstanding strings program while praising the dedication of the teacher staff.
Wood is an inventor as he created the first solid body electric violin in the early 1970s and has established Wood violins which makes these incredible instruments available to the public.
During his residency in Oswego many Oswego High School and Middle School musicians received the opportunity to play on the state of the art instruments and many were able to perform with Wood during the spectacular concert finale.
Celebrating his tenth year, his “Electrify Your Strings” series of music education program has become enormously successful and in demand as educational across the nation are quickly catching on to the importance of incorporating alternative teaching methods into their curriculum.
Brewster noted, “It was a very special night as Katie Wise of OMS won the raffle for one of Mark’s Stingray violins with amplifier valued at more than $700 and D’Addario Strings Company donated $1,000 worth of strings to our string program as part of Mark’s visit.”
It was a sensational culmination to an exciting musical week long celebration in Oswego schools and hopefully Wood will find his way back in the future.