By Roger Walk
The Matoaca High School hosted the family-friendly Annual Fine Arts Festival of Chesterfield County Public Schools. The Festival showcased the counties public elementary, middle and high school students’ visual and performing arts talent.
For two days of the weekend of April 5-6 thousands of students and their families and friends strolled through the spacious hallways and exhibition rooms to view and experience paintings, drawings, sculptures, and photographs the talented youth of the county had created during the last 12 months.
The stages in the auditorium and cafeteria featured student performers, such as drummers, guitarists, singers, actors, symphonic teams, and show choirs including a performance of the Camerata Strings ensemble of the Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra Program.
The Camerata Strings is the intermediate string ensemble of the Richmond Symphony youth orchestra program which is open to elementary through high school students. The large ensemble also presented a very diverse music program spanning from a Concerto Grosso by the 17th century Italian Corelli to “Lion City” by the Korean born contemporary Soon Hee Newborn. The string ensemble’s conductor Rebecca Jilcott began her teaching career in Chesterfield County where she is now Director of Orchestras at Matoaca Middle School.
Show choirs such as the Matoaca HS “B-Natural” Acapella choir group or the Clover Hill High School “Acropolis” honor choir sang enthusiastically a capella amidst the hassle and buzzle of the cafeteria, entertaining the visitors, older and young, with their classical, musical, gospel, and pop repertoire. It was remarkable to see both teams perform without their music teacher conducting. As Brad Berkley, the Matoaca High School Show Choir band teacher proudly explained “the students not only organize themselves on stage, they select their repertoire by themselves and often manage their choir practice and rehearsals themselves as well.”
Key statements of the festival were the demonstration of the diversity of art forms and media which are offered to the talent in the county to explore and develop their “language” to express creative art. For those who came to see, listen and watch there were opportunities to participate, try, practice, and create themselves various visual art objects or sounds in a musical instruments petting zoo.
For the students the festival was an opportunity to see what the students in other schools around the county are doing in their art programs. As