TCSS strings students to perform at Sweetland with Black Violin

Published 9:18 am Friday, September 15, 2023

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A dozen high school students within the Troup County School System will have the opportunity to perform with Black Violin at Sweetland Amphitheatre in October.

TCSS, Sweetland and the City of LaGrange announced the partnership at Berta Weathersbee Elementary on Thursday morning. The partnership was developed to support the arts and music education within our schools and also the community, said Irisha Goodman, TCSS Director of Public Relations.

Two-time Grammy-nominated hip hop duo group Black Violin will perform at Sweetland on Friday, Oct. 13. The group will allow 12 high school strings students to perform with them for a portion of the concert. Strings students throughout TCSS will also perform on a side stage before the concert.

Sweetland Director Brent Gibbs said the partnership is part of the amphitheater’s goal of growing and becoming part of the community by allowing local organizations to benefit through what they do.

Gibbs said the upcoming concert is also part of their plan to develop more appealing content to the younger citizens of LaGrange and Troup County.

“I can’t think of better artists to bring in and a better partnership to have than Black Violin on the artist side and the Troup County School System as the organization that would allow us to engage and reach young people in the community,” Gibbs said.

Gibbs said their goal is to uplift and inspire young people to participate in the arts and open their minds and believe that there are things possible that might be contradictory to narratives that they receive in other areas of their lives.

“We wanted to lift them up to do something that was good for their soul and for their mind and their body and then we wanted to entertain them, Gibbs said.

TCCS Strings Coordinator Callie Hammond said the opportunity for the high school students to play with a professional artist will show the younger students who are just starting what they can achieve.

“They get these beautiful instruments and they look so great. Then they go to play on them and they’re hard to play. Then all of a sudden, they kind of go, ‘I don’t know if I want to do this,’” Hammond said. “But seeing what is possible down the road makes them think If ‘I keep putting in work I can achieve this.’”

Jonathan Laney, TCSS Director of Secondary Education, said that the strings program started nine years ago as a partnership between the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra (LSO). The goal was to make sure that as many children in Troup County as possible have the opportunity to be exposed to string instruction with the idea that he idea that they would form a lifelong love of music and it would be a part of their life forever.

“We wanted to make sure as many children as possible —no matter what their economic situation in life— had the opportunity to have a part of this instruction. So, with a generous partnership with the Callaway Foundation, we got these beautiful instruments so that students would not have to purchase those for themselves,” Laney said.

The “Strings Attached” program was then created with LSO and the leadership of Hammond. The program started in four elementary schools and has since expanded to all 11 elementary schools. If the students wish to keep going after Strings Attached, they can continue orchestra instruction in all three middle schools and high schools.

Discount opportunities to attend the Black Violin concert will be available through the schools.

Gibbs said a discount code will be available to students, faculty and staff for tickets as low as $10. For students who are participating in music programs, whether band, orchestra or musical theater, scholarships will be available so they have the opportunity to come to the concert completely free of charge through generous donors, he said.

General ticket prices range from $20 to $60.