Students learn and teachers teach. But students synthesize information best when there's an opportunity to observe their teachers embody what they aspire to learn.
In that spirit, Rice University's Shepherd School of Music has began a fresh initiative for pupils and master teachers to perform side by side. A newly formed ensemble, the Shepherd Sinfonietta, will debut at 8 p.m. Thursday at Stude Concert Hall.
"The concept of the Sinfonietta was discussed for many years wherever faculty and student ensembles assembled for Shepherd School events," Robert Atherholt, professor of oboe, explains. "Performing and preparing to perform with our students by our side is a valuable teaching tool."
Such a teaching tool has been largely successful in the Aspen Music Festival, Tanglewood Music Center and the Blossom Music Center where professionals contribute experience and finesse while emerging students bring curiosity and vitality.
"These gifted young musicians are the next generation of professionals in our field, and some are already playing as substitutes in the Houston Symphony and other professional ensembles," Leone Buyse says.
Larry Rachleff, professor of music and music director, Shepherd School Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, will conduct Richard Strauss' Serenade in E-flat Major, Gounod's Petite Symphonie and Mozart's Serenade in C Minor.
Student placement will be determined by their respective studio teachers according to repertoire.
"The students are from the whole spectrum of ages and experience, hopefully using as many as possible in the season," Rachleff says.
The Shepherd School of Music has earned an international reputation for attracting promising young artists, achieving a high job placement rate post-graduation.
"Teaching at the Shepherd School is an immense responsibility and a great privilege because the level of our students is so uniformly high," Leone Buyse, professor of flute, notes. "These gifted young musicians are the next generation of professionals in our field, and some are already playing as substitutes in the Houston Symphony and other professional ensembles.
"Playing side by side onstage at the Shepherd School brings a very special joy to the process of music making."
The second Shepherd Sinfonietta program is set for March 31. It will feature Stravinsky's Pulcinella and Brahms' Serenade in A Major.