By Santino Sini
Music carried through the halls of St. John’s Baptist Church, “The Mighty Fortress,” on Hartridge Street in Savannah, as the sun went down on Feb. 4. A grand piano on stage downstairs, separated from the band upstairs, played a familiar tune, Bob Marley’s “One Love.”
The chorus room upstairs held a small group of students. The metallic crash of cymbals, the low drone of a bassoon, the sound of saxophones and trumpets, the voices of violins and violas, and the running beat of a stand-up bass and snare drum gave way to a burst of laughter.
There was a hush and a pause, then the one, two, three of the conductor before it all began again.
The church’s pews were then empty, but on Feb. 11, they will be filled with an audience ready for a show.
Select students of The Still-Waters Youth Sinfo-Nia of Metropolitan Atlanta will join with youth musicians from Savannah middle and high schools for a concert at the church. Approximately 100 students will be attending.
David E. Robinson, III, the maestro of the Atlanta group, will lead as conductor.
“Savannah already has so much culture,” said Robinson, “we want to channel this culture into the youth orchestra, to progress the culture among black students in Savannah.”
Though Robinson will lead the show on the Feb. 11, Kenyatta Tucker, first-year band director at Sol C. Johnson High School, led the group at the Feb. 4 rehearsal.
“Not all of these students will play on Feb. 11, but for many who are, it will be their first time playing with a full orchestra,” said Tucker.
Tucker says the arrangements will encompass different types of popular music, from R&B, to disco and pop, to jazz and blues, along with classical components. “Most songs will be recognized by the audience,” said Tucker. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” is a notable mention on the list.
Sponsors of New and Talented Artists(SONATA), a Savannah music organization that enrolls many of the students involved, is presenting the event along with The Still-Waters Youth Sinfo-Nia of Metropolitan Atlanta.
For the concert, SONATA received a grant for $4,822 from The Savannah Department of Cultural Affairs’ Weave-a-Dream initiative.
Weave-a-Dream allows grants of up to $5,000 to programs that positively engage the Savannah youth with culture.
Students of Bravo Music Company, another Savannah youth music program, will also be attending.
All of the students will meet together for the first time at a workshop before the concert on Feb. 11. The workshop will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The concert will begin at 4 p.m. and run until 6 p.m. There will be three groups of students playing, beginner, intermediate and advanced. Admission is free to the public.Contact Santino Sini.