NPR program features Orchestra Iowa


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Providing opportunities for young people to show off their classical-music talent is a goal of the “From the Top” radio program. Hosted by Christopher O’Riley, it will air from Iowa City tonight and will feature Orchestra Iowa and a group of select young musicians.

University of Iowa Professor William LaRue Jones, the director of orchestral studies, said it is an honor to be chosen for the program, because there are a relatively few people invited to participate.

He described the youthful participants as having “not just average talent but very sophisticated talent.”

“I’m inspired by Brahms, although my style doesn’t imitate his so much anymore,” said Jeremiah Siochi, 16, a self-taught composer, pianist, and double bassist from Iowa City. His composition was selected through an audition process for the “From the Top” broadcast.

However, auditioning did not spark much anxiety for Siochi. He felt confident about the piece he produced, as well as the performers selected to play his music.

One of the performers is sister Katherine Siochi, 14, a harpist. Because she was previously featured in a “From the Top” show, the audition was familiar territory for her.

“I thought it was a pretty good sign … usually they only allow you 15 minutes for an interview, but I got 30 minutes and took time away from their lunch break,” Jeremiah said.

Both Jeremiah and Katherine have had an interest in classical music since they started walking and talking, which is why Jeremiah is interested in bringing it into the lives of others.

Iowa Makes Music, a project funded by the U.S. Department of Education, makes “From the Top,” teacher collaboration, in-school performances, and a Peer Leadership Program possible. The Peer Leadership program appeals to Jeremiah because it allows him to share his compositions with his peers. He thinks this will help change kids’ ideas of classical music.

“The perception a lot of times is that classical music is too high or far off,” he said. “And it really doesn’t have to be that way.”

Jones said reaching out to youth in this area is a way to keep the music alive and help it grow.

“The intelligence that just sort of emanates from all of the people developing their own talents and showcasing [them] has to have an effect on the people who listen,” he said.

In the future, Jeremiah hopes to integrate music through his strengths in physics and mathematics.

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