This month, Lucy Wang, Hao Zhou, Aiden Kane, and Tate Zawadiuk of the Viano String Quartet will give a dynamic performance for over 2,000 students from our Title I partner schools as a part of the Center for Innovation and Community Impact’s Musical Encounter Interactive. The program combines music, acting, and audience engagement to tell the original story of the quartet’s appearance on a radio show hosted by a wacky Frenchman.
The quartet has been working hard since the beginning of last semester with drama chair Debbie Devine to develop their theatrical skills to engage and entertain young learners. They were involved in the process from start to finish, and spent countless hours developing the script with Debbie and scriptwriter Leon Martell. Along with actor Bennett Shneider and faculty Leeav Sofer, who both have roles in the production, they dedicated themselves this school year to workshopping the program, learning lines, and rehearsing.
The storyline follows the quartet’s growing indignation as they perform on a live radio show. The host is an over the top Frenchman played by Bennett Schneider, who is seeking out the most innovative and avant-garde music to be performed on his show. He promises quartet members fame and fortune if they leave the group to become his new artistic protégé. Hilarity ensues, and they finally realize it’s better to stick together and trust in themselves as a group—and even make room for new collaborators.
Throughout the performance, children in the audience are encouraged to participate and interact. Musical Encounter Interactive gives them an entry point to studying music here, including a chance to see what our students do, and what it feels like to be on campus. Thankfully, the Vianos are the perfect ambassadors.
“The Viano quartet members have been some of our most active members in the community at the institution and jumped at the opportunity to work with Deb Devine on an interactive performance,” says Nate Zeisler, Dean for Community Initiatives.
The quartet is no stranger to community engagement, having made it a core tenet of their group philosophy after participating in the Bellingham Festival of Music’s “Play it Forward” residency in March 2017, when they performed in outreach concerts for schoolchildren. Musical Encounter Interactive has been a fitting opportunity for them to continue to implement their vision.
“It has been a fantastic experience for us to work with Debbie Devine and Leon Martell to create this year’s [Musical Encounter Interactive] program. The opportunity to collaborate with actors and scriptwriters is unique to Los Angeles, and we are thrilled to be presenting this brand new interactive program in Zipper Hall next week. We’re confident that this program will introduce young students to classical music in a fun and accessible way,” says violinist Lucy Wang on behalf of the quartet.