There are only four schools in Savannah that offer a strings program, but if you ever had any doubt about the importance of a well supported music program, then you must see the wonderful kids of the Savannah Classical Academy Strings Conservatory Ensemble.
The ensemble is led by Sinisa Ciric (“Dr. C.” to his students), the concertmaster of the Savannah Philharmonic. Ciric studied violin in Yugoslavia at the Academy of Arts, University of Novi Sad, obtained his doctorate in music from the University of Georgia and his 20-year career includes performing as a solo and orchestral violinist in concert halls like the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall.
In 2016, Ciric joined the faculty of SCA to use his experience and dedication to music education to build a remarkable and unique string music program that is geared to the individual.
“Basically, the biggest difference is that I get to see my students throughout the week, for one-on-one lessons,” explains Ciric. “I make sure that they are actually on par regardless of their ability, to help the ones who need more help and nobody is left behind, so that they eventually meet at the same time on the same level for our performances.”
The extra attention and support given to the students in their music studies goes a long way to improve the overall quality of their education.
“None of the kids in my program have disciplinary issues,” says Ciric. “Most of them are in the top 10 percent of their class and we’ve seen some major improvements from kids that were not playing an instrument, and then in the last two years their focus got better, their organizational skills, social skills, because they get into a group of kids that are a good influence on them. The atmosphere is phenomenal... It’s something I am very proud of, that the class gives them that interest and security.”
Ciric adds, “I honestly don’t know of any music group that is a bad influence. Even if it’s a punk band.”
The SCA String Ensemble will give a concert at 7 p.m. Nov. 15 at Skidaway Island United Methodist church to help raise funds for their program and for an exciting upcoming field trip.
Last year, the ensemble gave a similar concert and raised $11,000 in one night. “Whoever comes to that concert sees these kids, and they see how much it means to them,” says Ciric. “It was really a blessing for all of us. I’m hoping that we will continue with the same attitude and approach to the quality of education for them.”
Ciric would like the performance to feel like a real concert experience, rather than just a children’s recital, so he has invited members of the Savannah Philharmonic to also perform some beautiful chamber pieces. Some of the pieces the students will perform include Bach’s Suite in D Minor with a flute soloist, Aria for Bass with vocal accompaniment, and popular songs like “You Raise Me Up” and “Amazing Grace."
“This is a format that I think would work best for audiences and students,” says Ciric. “It will give the audience a feel of a professional level of playing and a student level of playing, so that they can gauge how far these kids are into their learning processes and how good they can be if they are given support.”
The funds raised at this concert will allow the students to take a trip to Chicago next year to see a performance by the Chicago Symphony conducted by Maestro Ricardo Muti with violin virtuoso Vadim Gluzman as soloist. The students will also see a rehearsal by the Chicago Youth Orchestra and then perform a small concert of their own at William Harris Lee & Co., makers of fine string instruments. Lee, who will be a special guest at Thursday’s concert, has donated all of the instruments used by SCA and will continue to do so in the future.
“We’re planning a nice and life-changing trip for these kids,” says Ciric. “They’ll ride the subway, visit museums, all that good stuff. But, this is for them to experience something on a much larger scale.”
The field trip will be fully funded by donations and includes the flight, food, and hotel.
“I never want them to be limited by resources,” says Ciric. “I want them to feel that what they are given is because they deserve it and they work hard. I told them that it’s my job to make this happen... There is a lot of support behind us.”
IF YOU GO
What: Savannah Classical Academy Strings Conservatory Ensemble
When: 7 p.m. Nov. 15
Where: Skidaway Island United Methodist Church, 54 Diamond Causeway
Cost: Free, donations support strings program