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Third Street Music School anniversary celebrated with concert on 120 pianos

Students perform in a building-wide concert at the Third Street Music School Settlement on Saturday. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Students perform in a building-wide concert at the Third Street Music School Settlement on Saturday. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The oldest community arts school in the country celebrated its 120th anniversary this past weekend with what it does best: music. Third Street Music School Settlement, which has actually been on East 11th Street since the 1970s, has been offering various celebratory events for the occasion in the last few weeks. Last Saturday, 120 pianists participated in a 15-minute concert, with kids, parent volunteers and faculty members alike playing Pachelbel’s Canon throughout the building’s hallways and rehearsal rooms.

Piano department chair Joan Forsyth, who came up with the idea for the building-wide performance, said that they ended up having even more people show up on top of those that had registered so it was actually more than 120 students participating, but spots were found for everyone.

“We were running around and pulling keyboards out of closets but everyone had a good time,” she said.

Executive director Valerie Lewis said that there were students as young as six who participated, but among the adults, aside from faculty and parents, were some of the school’s older students. Ray Sauerbrey started taking classical lessons about five years ago and recently came to Third Street for lessons because his previous teacher retired.

“It’s hard to get into a music school without classical training but (Third Street) welcomed me with open arms,” he said. “It isn’t a conservatory, it’s a community-based school and they turn away practically nobody.”

Sauerbrey noted that Third Street made it easy for all students to participate in the holiday festivities.

“They broke the Canon into pieces so it was manageable, like they do with everything else,” he said. “They reach out to your ability.”

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