WASHINGTON TWP. – Washington Elementary School students tapped their toes and clapped along as a trio of musicians performed an upbeat folk song that once echoed through the countryside of Italy.
While they didn’t understand what was being said, the students knew exactly what was being conveyed.
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“Music is so interesting,” Anthony Taddeo, percussionist and composer for the Cleveland-based Alla Boara musical ensemble, told the students. “Music makes you feel things. It makes you remember things.”
That’s exactly what happened to fifth grader Izzy Santee.
“That reminded me of a movie I once saw,” Santee told the group after a trio from the group played a playful piece during a presentation at their school earlier this week.
The presentation is part of Ohio Regional Music Arts Cultural Outreach’s World Tour of Music. It brings talented artists from around the globe to perform concerts and public workshops throughout Stark, Medina, Summit, Ashland, Wayne and Lorain counties.
As the first leg of Alla Boara’s tour, they stopped at Marlington Local’s Washington and Marlboro elementary schools.
They also visited Jackson Local Schools in Stark. They also have performances at Cloverleaf Local Schools Medina County Juvenile Detention Center and the Western Reserve Masonic Home in Medina County before a public concert at OJ Work Auditorium in Wadsworth on Saturday.
What is the Ohio Regional Music Arts Cultural Outreach?
The Ohio Regional Music Arts Cultural Outreach – or ORMACO – aims to make cultural experiences accessible to everyone. This is the first time the group has been back in schools since the pandemic began and organizers are excited to restart the program.
During the course of the week, Alla Boara will have shared their reimagined Italian folk songs with 3,000 people, ORMACO Executive Director Thomas Sigel said.
“We are absolutely thrilled. This is about lifelong learning,” he said.
During the presentation, Taddeo explained to students that the Italian people and many cultures across the world use music to help them accomplish certain tasks such as harvesting crops.
Alla Boara takes it name from a traditional call and response song that would have been used during harvesting, he said.
The music performed by the group was near extinction but has been reimagined by Alla Boara’s modern arrangements.
The music can be playful or mournful. It can be used in celebrations or to convey anger.
Students learned about instruments used in traditional folk music such as a mouth harp that uses the resonant chamber of the mouth to make sounds.
Taddeo said much of the music they play would have been lost to time if Alan Lomax, an ethnomusicologist, had not gone into the rural areas of the country to record regional folk tunes.
The group uses the recordings to recreate the masterpieces and share the musical treasures with new generations.
“Bringing musical groups such as Alla Boara to school districts enriches our students’ lives immensely. Not only do they learn about music, they learn a little history, culture and geography, too,” Marlington Superintendent Mike Shreffler said.
The superintendent pointed out that many children would never be exposed to programs such as the ones provided by ORMACO, if they were not brought into the schools.
“Most of all, these programs are fun and exciting for our kids.” he said.
Participating in the World Tour of Music is exactly what being an artist is, Taddeo said. And being able to perform and talk to students about their art is important as many districts struggle with access to funding the arts.
He hopes the performances throughout the week reach someone sitting in the audience and prompts them to begin digging into their own heritage.
“The point of creativity and being an artist is being able to share (your talents),” Taddeo said. “We can show what music means to relationships and the community. It’s the most important work that we are doing.”
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