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Arts & Entertainment

Symphony Director Trains Millikan Students

From Issue: Volume XX - Number 20

By Christopher Trela

Long Beach Symphony Orchestra Music Director Enrique Arturo Diemecke, who is in town to conduct LBSO's season-opening concert on October 6, made a surprise appearance at Millikan High School on October 3 to conduct a chamber orchestra rehearsal and encourage students to be passionate about music.

During the 75-minute class period, Maestro Diemecke worked with the students much the same way he leads a rehearsal of Long Beach Symphony Orchestra: he guided the students measure by measure through the piece, discussed the dynamics and intricacies of the music, and helped them understand how the piece was structured. He also gave a musical pep talk, discussed his career, and answered questions.

When one student asked what instrument he played, Diemecke replied "All of them--I play the orchestra," and explained that he feels the passion of the music, and that passion comes out in the way he conducts. He also added that the violin is his main instrument, and after borrowing a violin from the orchestra's concertmaster, played a short piece for the students.

Millikan High School was selected because the music teacher, Renee Bhatia - a Long Beach native who has participated in all of the LBSO's education programs - has been building the music program since she arrived at Millikan three years ago. She has played an active role in coordinating the All-District Honor Orchestra, and has been one of the main "go-to" people for the annual Miller Foundation Symphony Concerts for Young People, presented by the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, both in coordinating high school students’ side-by-side participation in the Orchestra, and in helping to facilitate the elementary students' entrances and exits at the Terrace Theater, site of the youth concerts.

"Millikan High's music program exemplifies what we do at all of the high schools," explained Jim Petri, the district's Music Curriculum Leader. "We have an instrumental program that encompasses orchestras, chamber orchestras, jazz bands, and vocal at every high school. The school district is committed to the value of what music brings to the community, to the school, and to the students."

That commitment includes bringing someone of Maestro Diemecke's stature into a classroom.

"Enrique has such a positive way of communicating with students," noted Petri. "He is so genuine in what he does--everything comes from his heart. And what a great building block to give those music students. He brings them to the next level. What the students experienced with Enrique, they'll remember for the rest of their lives. They will take what they learned today and it will translate to so many things that they'll do in their lives."