Strings Attached
Urban Strings Columbus Youth Orchestra                                                      Fall/Winter 2015, Vol. 1, Issue 2
Christmas Strings & a Few of My Favorite Things
On Sunday, December 13, and Sunday, December 20, the Urban Strings Half Notes, along with the Quarter Notes and Premier Group, played for our Christmas concerts. They were absolutely spectacular! We, the Half Notes, played "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas", "Sweet Little Jesus Boy", and "How Great Is Our God". It was nice to see everyone in their beautiful dresses and handsome tuxedos, looking neat as well as classy. When we played our instruments, all of the harmonies blended with the melodies, and it sounded very together and well-played. Director Spottswood did an excellent job conducting us and making sure that we presented ourselves well. The crowd was very large and very enthusiastic. After our group was done playing, we each said our name, age, where we go to school, and how long we've been playing our instruments. This helped us work on our public speaking skills. After the concert, we went downstairs and ate different types of food, including delicious desserts. In conclusion, I could tell that everyone had practiced very hard, and I hope that everyone will continue to do so in the future.
--By Alyssia Palmer, Half Notes (viola)
Summer Camp Finale 2015

     The 2015 Urban Strings Columbus Youth Orchestra's annual Summer Camp was capped off by a concert entitled "Embracing the Promise" in celebration of African-American Music Appreciation Month. The concert was held at Broad Street Presbyterian Church with a matinee preview and an evening finale concert. The evening finale opened to a packed house with an invocation by Rev. Eddie Roberts of New Salem Baptist Church. The Quarter Notes, the beginner's group, took the stage first with several selections from Essential Elements Book 1, including the familiar "Good King Wenceslas." They ended with a rousing version of a familiar Mozart melody featuring a fun call-and-response arrangement by Director Stephen Spottswood. 
     Next up was the Half Notes, the intermediate group, beginning with a hip-hop influenced arrangement by Director Spottswood called "Make a Joyful Noise, Give a Simple Gift." This was followed by a selection of civil-rights era songs arranged by Guest Director David E. Robinson, who is the founder and director of the Still Waters Sinfo-Nia Orchestra of Metropolitan Atlanta. The Half Notes finished their set with another arrangement by Director Robinson, Michael Jackson's "Beat It." It's safe to say you've never heard Michael Jackson like this! The Quarter Notes then joined the Half Notes for the jazzy "Way Back Home."
     Following the intermission, the Urban Strings Premier Group took the stage. They started with a hip-hop arrangement called "Mozart Creepin on Columbus." Next they dipped into gospel with "Expect Your Miracle" by The Clark Sisters. The classic "Get Ready" by The Temptations was followed by the classical Koussevitsky's Contrabass Concerto Op. 3 Movement 1, featuring an elegant solo by bassist Redd Coltrane Ingram. Then the group moved into the contemporary arena, starting with the inspirational "Say Yes" by Michelle Williams and following up with crowd favorite "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars. The finale of the evening featured all three groups in a rousing performance of James Brown's "Funky Good Time." 

Performance Spotlight: New James Cancer Hospital
On Friday, July 31, 2015, the Quarter Notes and Half Notes had the honor of performing for a Pelotonia fundraiser at the New James Cancer Hospital at the OSU Wexner Medical Center. It was amazing to watch the faces of the doctors, nurses, patients, and family members brighten as they walked through the lobby or paused to listen to the beautiful music. It was particularly a treasure to have the Half Notes play "Beat It" while cancer survivors looked on.
Perfect Pitch
Our Urban Strings musicians are very active! Here are selected accomplishments from a few of them.
Lizzy Bruening was awarded a scholarship to dance at BalletMet and received a class award for doing the most kind deeds throughout the year.
Drew and Blake Collins, through the Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra, had he opportunity to open for the Columbus Symphony Orchestra at the Picnic with the Pops this past summer at Columbus Commons. They also participated in the Million Man March.
Drew Collins and Halle Craig participated in the American Music Abroad European Tour from June 21 to July 4, 2015, during which they participated in the AMA orchestra and performed traditional American music while visiting France, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, and Switzerland.
Garry and Marcus Cooper participated in the OSU's College of Music Morning Strings Workshop 2015. The program culminated with them playing with the full string orchestra in a concert at Weigle Hall under the direction of Robert Gillespie.
Halle Craig participated in the Summer Music Experience Camp at Otterbein University from June 8 to June 12, 2015. For the camp final recital, she performed Satin Doll by Duke Ellington and was accompanied by Dr. Richard Lopez, Head of Jazz Studies at Otterbein. Halle was the only bass player at he camp, and her solo performance was very well received.
Alexis Cunningham sang a solo at her fourth grade graduation. She is on the Honor Roll. Alexis was accepted into the Columbus Symphony Junior Strings Orchestra, with whom she will be performing on January 31 at 3pm at the Vern Riffe Center. Come out and watch her!
Tristen Davis was made the caption of the Eastmoor Academy Drill team 2015-2016 after writing an essay, choreographing a dance routine, and being interviewed. She received the Junior Distinguished Leadership award, which was based on character. She was elected as an officer in the Senior Senate for Eastmoor Academy and was selected as a debutante for the Star Lite Cotillion 2015, where she won a $1000 scholarship. She also had her second poem published. She recently had the honor of speaking at Columbus City Schools' State of the District.
Nathaniel Ike was inducted into the Tri-M Music Honor Society at Olentangy Orange High School.
Redd C. Ingram attended PRISMA (Pacific Region International Summer Music Academy), one of North America's premier summer music schools, located in Powell River, British Columbia. For 2 weeks, Redd studied with the music director of the Moscow Symphony as well as well-renowned guest artists and other music students from across the globe. Redd also attended Interlochen Arts Camp located in Interlochen, Michigan. It is the nation's foremost residential fine arts educational program and lasts 6 weeks. Attending Interlochen provides the opportunity for intense musical study with world-renowned educators, drastic improvement of technique, and collaboration with notable young musicians from around the world. You can see a video of Redd at Interochen here.
Naomi Johnson, a first chair bass at Gahanna Middle School East, maintains a 4.0 GPA. She was voted captain of the 7th grade basketball team and has helped lead them to a 7-0 record. Naomi also played on the 7th grade volleyball team, which place 4th in the OCC tournament. In addition to her school activities, Naomi is the stage manager at Genessee Avenue Church of Christ for the production Consider One of These or the Devil to Pay. She's also a member of the Step and Praise team. 
Sol Philpott successfully navigated his transition from homeschooling to Metro Early College Middle School, achieving mastery in all of his classes. He is eagerly awaiting a real snowfall in Columbus so he can return to his true love - snowboarding!
JoeLius DuBois Porter celebrated the 1st birthday of his spiritual birth on May 14, 2015. He was inducted into the Borromean Chapter of the National Honor Society at Saint Charles. He was chosen as representative by Saint Charles to sit for the 2015 National Latin Exam and came in 2nd place. Out of 140,000 plus in all of the U.S., Canada, and 20 other countries, he earned the distinction of Maxima Cum Laude and was awarded the silver medal by the National Latin League and the American Latin League. His contributions helped lead to Ohio being ranked 8th in the world. JoeLius was awarded the Superior achievement award for the 2nd consecutive year at Saint Charles for having maintained academic excellence of honorable mention the entire school year. He passed the OGT exams on his first try and is now eligible for his High School graduation. He was the only applicant from Central Ohio that was selected and was awarded a full scholarship to attend the renowned Sphinx Performance Academy this past summer.
Hannah Roberts was inducted into the Tri-M Music Honor Society at Olentangy Orange High School.
Jaylen Robinson was accepted into Fort Hayes, and because of his previous experience with the violin, he will be part of the second orchestra.
Gretchen Sahr went on a trip to the Netherlands, where she was asked to be part of a "Children's International Summer Village" with kids from 12 countries (sort of a mini-United Nations).
Director Stephen Spottswood received a position as a personal aid to Herschel Craig at the Ohio House of Representatives.
Alaina Catherine Nicole West is one of 30 Girl Scouts/Brownies that were competitively selected for the Techie Camp held this past summer at The Ohio State University School of Engineering. Alaina received the following honors and certificates of achievement: top Girl Scout/Brownie cookie seller, reading accomplishment, music for violin from Columbus Academy Strings, Science for Saturn project, Nelson Mandela project, and music for Children's Choir at Stonybrook United Methodist Church in Gahanna. Alaina performed a vocal solo and read a narration in the Christmas Cantata, The Silence and the Sound, by Stonybrook United Methodist Church Chancel Choir, bell choir, and orchestra. There were 3 performances on December 19 and 20, 2015.
 Alaina was also selected to write an article for Columbus Academy Magazine on her STEM pioneering uncle, Robert Robinson Taylor, who was the first Black graduate from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was the valedictorian of the 1892 class, receiving a degree in architecture. He was recruited by Booker T. Washington to design and oversee the building of Tuskegee Institute.   
Ryan Wise was chosen as the lead in the musical All Shook Up at the Wellington School this past November.
Urban Strings On Tour
Summer 2016 will be an exciting time for Urban Strings Columbus. Our annual summer camp will be held June 6-10, featuring returning Guest Director David E. Robinson. Following the summer camp, the musicians will head to do a tour in the Washington, DC, area. If you would like to help Urban Strings musicians make this trip more attainable, see information to the right about how to donate to Urban Strings Columbus! 
Parents and musicians - we recommend that you consider getting your passports up to date now in case an out-of-the-country performing opportunity arises! The post office has very helpful information about getting your passport here:
Musician Spotlight
Here is a recently published poem by one of our talented musicians:

A Struggle - by Tristen Davis
I know what you're thinking before your words leave your mouth
I can predict the actions of the policemen down south
I bet they don't even know what our struggles are about
What's the role of the police now, I thought they were supposed to
     help us out
Sometimes it's best to shut down and walk away
So you have a better chance of surviving to see a new day
Sometimes you can't win, and you gotta hold onto what you wanna
You can't start over, you got one life, this ain't a game
Maybe you forgot that some mistakes can't be forgiven.
And that you can only wish a death sentence upon an assassin
     who is living.
They took MLK's life, but they never took away his vision.
And if we were gonna live in peace or not, it was up to us to
     make a decision.
I'm not a pacifist, I'd stand on the side of Malcolm X.
If you saw a black kid without a gun, what do you think the police
     would do next?
Shoot 'em down without evidence they did wrong, maybe they were
     the victims of molest
As another kid, I might scream and want to avenge his death
My heart used to break 'cause of a hard day at school, and I'm
I need to break 'cause it's hard holding my family's name
Breaking down, 'cause every day, I feel my people's pain
But I gotta remember with every pain and loss, there's a gain.

Urban Strings musicians - did you practice your scales today?!?
In September 2014, Urban Strings Columbus had a fundraiser to support the rescue of the Fishing Boys of Ghana. We raised over $1000 that was donated to this rescue effort. Pictured are the boys and a girl that were rescued as a result of our contribution!
Drew and Blake Collins headed to the Million Man March.
Drew Collins and Halle Craig on the American Music Abroad European Tour.
Garry and Marcus Cooper with the OSU Morning Strings Workshop.
Marcus Cooper getting ready to perform.
Tristen Davis receiving the Academic Scholarship at the Victory Matrons Cotillion.
Redd Ingram.
See more pictures and videos of our Urban Strings musicians in action on our Facebook page!
Did you know you can help Urban Strings while doing your shopping at Kroger or on Amazon?
For Kroger, simply go to and link your Kroger card to Friends of Art for Community Enrichment. For Amazon, go to and choose Friends of Art for Community Enrichment as your charity to support. Then do all of your Amazon shopping at that link. Your contribution makes a difference!
Gretchen Sahr in her Urban Strings Summer Camp t-shirt, which made the trip to the Netherlands.
Alains West in the Christmas Cantata The Silence and the Sound.
Alaina West in the Christmas Cantata The Silence and the Sound.
Postage stamp featuring Alaina West's uncle.
Want to donate to Urban Strings to support these fabulous musicians? Donations can be made in two ways:
Online with the Columbus Foundation: or
Via mail to FACE/Urban Strings, P.O. Box 30421, Gahanna, OH 43230
*Tax deductible forms are available upon request.
Who's Who Columbus

On Tuesday, October 27, the Who's Who in Black Columbus 2015 book was unveiled, featuring a section on Urban Strings Columbus. The Premier Group members were featured in the Future Leaders section and performed during the reception. The pictures below of each group, taken by Urban Strings photographer Stephanie Stovall, were included in the book.  
Quarter Notes
Half Notes
Premier Group
Copyright © 2016 Urban Strings Columbus, All rights reserved.

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