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“Fall into the Arts” Series Debuts

A Community School student tickles the ivory.

by Cheryl Hodges

Roanokers are in for a musical treat this fall, with Community School’s “Fall into the Arts Series” which will feature some familiar names bringing their well-known talents to the inaugural benefit performances.

For the first performance on September 8, the artists won’t have to travel very far to get here. RSO Maestro David Stewart Wiley, Soprano Leah Marer Wiley and flute virtuoso Julee Hickcox will be performing favorites from hit broadway musicals, beloved Italian opera showpieces and jazzy duos for flute and piano. The show is entitled “From Boheme to Broadway” and will be held at Talmadge Hall on the Hollins Campus.

According to Pattie Stratton, Director of Development and Marketing, the impetus for the Series evolved from Community School looking into ways to “put in a keyboard lab.” They got to talking to Maestro Wiley and “once we booked him and realized how great this was going to be … we wanted to do something good for the community and [our school] and make it a yearly event.”

“The school is working toward adding the Yamaha MIE keyboard lab to our music curriculum. A total of 16 keyboards would allow each child to read, produce, create, and participate in music with the keyboard as a vehicle,” said Stratton.

RSO Music Director David Stewart Wiley noted that “Leah, Julee and I are happy to help to make this dream of a piano lab for the students a reality.  We hope our community will support this worthy cause by attending the performance.”

The second performance scheduled for October 26 will feature “The Hudson Trio” which is a New York based group comprised of seasoned and accomplished chamber musicians. The Hudson Trio has an eclectic approach to programming, combining standard works of their repertoire with rarely performed compositions.

The Trio will be performing movements by Mozart, Brahms and Beethoven, which will represent the standard repertoire, and possibly include a short piece by Arvo Part (contemporary and accessible) and Petko Stainov (folk-based, Bulgarian).

Community School, a small private school in Roanoke County (established in 1971), has always had the arts as a focus. Stratton explains that “art education is central to our philosophy. We seek to teach the whole child by integrating the arts, Spanish and technology throughout the curriculum.”

For instance, Stratton says, “While studying Greek Civilization students performed Greek Tragedy in Drama, designed their own Amphorae in Art, and were introduced to Greek choral reading in music.”

“We aim to take students from passive recipients to active participants of skill and knowledge, and at the same time give them an understanding of and passion for the arts. We encourage volunteerism, social responsibility and nurture a lifelong love of learning.”

Installing a new keyboard lab will help the school achieve their objectives. Stratton added, “Our goal is to make this new Fall Series an annual event—presenting three performing arts programs each fall, [featuring] music, dance, drama, even comedy.

“Fall into the Arts” performances will be held Sept. 8 and Oct. 26 (an additional date will be announced for November) at 7 p.m. at Talmadge Hall on the Hollins Campus.

For more information or to get tickets, visit, or call Community School at 540.563.5036.

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