Music@Menlo Performs Unique Pieces for Visual Arts, AP Euro Students

February 26, 2023


Andrea Li

Musicians from Music@Menlo perform for the AP European History class. Staff photo: Andrea Li

Consisting of string players and pianists ranging from ages nine to 29, Music@Menlo is a chamber music organization based on Menlo’s campus dating back to the organization’s founding in 2003. 

According to Music@Menlo’s website, they provide “concerts, lectures, a training program for aspiring professional musicians, and open-to-the-public master classes.” Its annual winter residency program on the Menlo campus includes educational and outreach events, offering an interactive program to Menlo students this year hosted by violinist James Thompson. With the help of several guest musicians, Music@Menlo performed for multiple sections of both visual arts and AP European History courses throughout early February.

For the AP European History course, Music@Menlo intended for their performance to educate students on European music history, according to history teacher Katharine Hanson. Thompson opened the performance with an introductory lesson on European music in the 18th century, soon launching into a rendition of Mozart’s String Quartet in FM K. 590, Movement II. 

Although the performers aim to educate, they also want to convey their love for chamber music. “We tried to tailor our presentations to each classroom so that it’s kind of relevant to the things that you guys are learning in class,” Thompson said. “But if nothing else, I think we’d love to just get across how passionate we are about chamber music and that there’s more to chamber music than most people have in mind.”

Hanson believes that the performances are a way to take learning outside of the classroom in a multimedia form. “Another [priority] is kind of a multimedia experience, not just the same old lecture, written source or even visual source […] this is a different form of communication,” Hanson said. 

While an unconventional experience, the performances can be valuable for students. “It’s really fantastic to see students interact with them […] I’m trying to give a wide variety of opportunities […] for all the students to have a chance […] to have an authentic experience of learning,” Hanson said. “So there are students who are just really floored by what they hear, and they really connect with the experience and the music.”

Junior Jackson Deutch, an AP Euro student, found the experience to be beneficial. “It was very majestic for us. I really liked the music that they were playing and they also did a really good job of educating us in the background of that music,” Deutch said. 

Meanwhile, for the visual arts classes, students focused on interpreting music through visual art. “This year, students were presented with three widely different musical works. After an introduction by the musicians, the string quartet and pianist played excerpts from each piece several times so that the art students could respond to the music and then draw while listening to the music using oil pastels on textured paper,” art teacher Nina Ollikianen said. “Some students chose to do quick paintings with acrylics while listening to the performance.”

According to Ollikainen, after each performance, students would have a show and tell, where they would describe how they felt while listening and then explain how this feeling was expressed in their art. “My favorite part was hearing how each student interpreted the music into unique artistic pieces. No two were alike,” Ollikainen said.

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Andrea Li, Print Editor

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 4

Favorite aspect of journalism: Working with other people on staff :)

Interests outside of school: Reading, writing, cooking

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