Our Projects for Children

Sounds of the Strings

Sounds of the Strings 2


We perform these presentations thanks to support from Connelly Foundation and the Philadelphia Cultural Fund.

This project was launched in 1996 after many years of children’s concerts given at the Gershman Y in Center City Philadelphia. It is a program with interactive elements designed to engage elementary school students in an entertaining and educational program of 45 minutes in length. We visit schools, currently under grants from the Connelly Access Program, which provides educational presentations to parochial schools in Philadelphia.

Our ensemble consists of Nancy Bean, violin and viola; Lloyd Smith, cello and bass; and Anne Sullivan, harp.





Our programs for 2023-24 are:

1. “Sounds of the Strings”

     We introduce the violin, viola, and cello. The violinist plays a fast reel, “The Irish Washerwoman” on the violin and
     a theme from Dvorak’s 
“American” string quartet on the viola.

L. van Beethoven - Eyeglasses duet, for viola and cello.
     We introduce the harp and the double bass. The cellist plays the opening theme from Dvorak’s cello concerto.

     We bring the harp and the bass onstage. Usually we’re able to hide them, so there are gasps of amazement when
     everyone suddenly sees these huge instruments.

     We have a contest between the harp and the bass — who can play highest, who can play lowest, who can hold
     a note the longest, how many notes can each instrument play at once?

Monika Stadler - No One Can Stop Me Now, for harp and bass (North African rhythms).
     demonstrates the “harp mute” to produce a special sound.

William Henry Squire - Tarantella, for cello and harp.
     Tells the story of a slightly posionous spider bite which can be cured by dancing really fast, to music like this.

Scott Joplin - The Entertainer (Ragtime)
     Joplin created a new kind of music about 100 years ago; its ragged rhythms eventually became jazz.

Boccherini writes Minuet

Luigi Boccherini - Minuet (skit)
     The Queen commands Mr. Boccherini to write a piece for her party
     — he first writes just one note, which is 
much too short; he adds
     rhythm, which doesn’t make it much more interesting; then he adds
     different chords — 
harmony — and it begins to sound better. Finally he
     write a melody — a song — for the Queen to play, and the 
Minuet is

 "Mr. Boccherini Writes Music" Skit

 Interactive segment - Pop! Goes the Weasel!
     Students can take a short lesson and learn how to pluck the violin and harp strings in this easy, traditional
     English song.

James Horner - My Heart Will Go On, from the movie “Titanic”
     Music is often featured in movies. This is one of the most popular ever.

W. A. Mozart Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (A Little Serenade [Night Music] )
     This piece is one of the most famous pieces. It was written about 250 years ago, but now it has been used in
     TV ads, and in Baby Einstein toys.

2. “Sounds of the Strings 2.0”

Charlene Marchi - The Flying Carpet from Persia
     This music, for violin and cello, has fun Middle Eastern sounds.

Camille Saint-Saëns - The Elephant, for bass and harp
     The huge double bass plays a piece that tells about the huge elephant.

Mikhail Glinka - Russian Song
     Back in the days when there were many excellent Russian composers, a very sweet piece of music.

Florence Price - Memory Mist
     A beautiful, serene piece for harp solo composed by a gifted African-American woman who has been recently

Antonio Vivaldi - Winter, from “The Four Seasons” (skit)
     The great violinist asks Mr. Vivaldi to write shivery, cold winter music.

Jan Ladislav Dussek - Trio - Allegro
     This Czechoslovakian composer wrote beautiful harp ensemble music. 

     Now we compare two extreme ideas: the violin was often said to have been the instrument of the Devil; and the
     harp has often been said to 
be the instrument of Heaven:

Traditional, U.S.A. - The Devil’s Dream
     A wild piece of violin music.

Charles Gounod - Ave Maria (based on a piece by J. S. Bach)
     A peaceful piece for violin and harp.

W. A. Mozart - Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (A Little Serenade [Night Music] )
     This piece is one of the most famous pieces. It was written about 250 years ago, but now it has been used in
     TV ads, and in Baby Einstein toys.

3. The World Tour

Handel/Halvorsen - Passacaglia, for violin and cello (Germany and Norway)
     Handel was one of the most famous composers of 300 years ago. Johan Halvorsen used his “Passacaglia” as
     a foundation to create this 
original piece about 100 years ago.

Camille Saint-Saëns - The Swan, for cello and harp (France)
     Saint-Saëns wrote a piece describing, in music, lots of animals. He called it “The Carnival of the Animals.” This
     piece is about a swan. 
We use stuffed animals and the bass to give an unusual visual effect.

Giuseppe Tartini - “Didone Abbandonata” (Italy)
     This Italian composer lived about 300 years ago and wrote this piece to describe one of the great historical
     Greek persons, Dido, the 
Queen of Carthage and was said to have started a big war with Rome.

Carlos Salzedo - Chanson de la Nuit (Song of the Night), for solo harp (France/Basque)
     This piece gives the feeling of a mostly quiet night, but with noises.

Marcel Farago - Duo, for violin and cello (Romania)
     This piece has wild Romanian rhythms; written about 50 years ago.

Mikhail Glinka - Russian Song (Russia)
     Back in the days when there were many excellent Russian composers, this is a typical, very sweet piece of
     music written nearly 200 years ago. 

The World Tour - Music from China, Cambodia, Viet Nam, Korea, and Mexico
     This tour “travels” from country to country; we’ll show the name of each country as we play.

Sounds of the Strings

 We’ve received hundreds of letters of appreciation over the 24 years we’ve offered this program, from principals, teachers and students. They tell us how much they like our musical selections and how we play them, how much they learned, and how enjoyable it was to hear our program. Typical examples from students are: “I think you were the best and I hope you come back again. I like the bass.” “I really loved the music you played for us.” “I liked when the Queen made the composer do better.” “You are awesome!”

Typical thank you notes from principals and teachers are: “It was a wonderful experience for our students to watch, hear, and listen to. They were mesmerized — all of them.” “I thought the presentation was magnificent. It was a new experience for the students, and they were very receptive to it.” “I felt that the performers were able to make such an ‘unfamiliar’ topic entertaining for the children, who also loved it because it was interactive. BRAVO!” “Today you were a true inspiration to our kids. My appreciation to a wonderful group of musicians.”