Stuart Malina, music director of the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, says students inspire him as much as he inspires them. He regularly visits local high school music programs, like this one at Steelton-Highspire High School. Malina performed selections of classical music for special needs, and music students on Wednesday, March 23.
HSO Conductor Stuart Malina shares his music with students at Steel-High. “We inspire each other,” he says.
By Debra Schell
Press And Journal Staff
Jonathan Gutierrez sat in the band room at Steelton-Highspire High School and listened as Stuart Malina played a ragtime tune on the piano.
“It was awesome,” he said.
Malina, music director of the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra and Tony Award-winning music supervisor for the Broadway musical “Movin’ Out,” conductor and pianist, performed a mini-concert at the school for special needs students and band members at the school on Wednesday, March 23.
Gutierrez, 17, a junior who is visually impaired, has been playing the piano since he was 8.
“I love playing the harmonica, the piano, the trumpet, and the drums,” he said.
Gutierrez was awed by Malina’s performance.
“Music is relaxing, but overwhelming,” said Gutierrez, who wants to be a performer one day.
“It’s also a way to communicate.”
Malina, in his 10th year as maestro of HSO, returned the compliment.
“I like that we inspire each other,” said Malina about the students, including Gutierrez. “I felt that I have touched a few here today.”
Malina, who is known for his efforts to build bridges between performers and listeners, has made it a priority to visit and perform at local schools. The interaction is especially important now when funding for music programs may be cut due to the state’s budget crisis, he said.
“We all need to develop an appreciation for music. It is what we do, who we are,” he said. “It is part of being a human being. Without music, and to focus on education only, it is frustrating.”
Malina has been to several school districts in Central Pennsylvania including: Hershey, Central Dauphin, and York. This was his first visit to Steel-High and he hopes he can return.
About 40 special needs students and band students attended the performance and several stayed afterward to play songs for Malina.
The HSO contacted the district about the visit, said Jody Yarnevich, special needs learning support staff for the district.
“We were thrilled to have them come, and we have many students who benefited from listening to the music,” she said.
For all his success, Malina said he is lucky to be where he is today.
“I did struggle after graduate school,” he said.
“But there are very talented people who are still struggling.”
For more information on Malina, visit http://www.stuartmalina.com.
Debra Schell: 717-944-4628, or firstname.lastname@example.org