With a flourish of arpeggios, 10-year-old pianist Sharon Nomi launched the fourth year of the Orange County Philharmonic Society's "Musical Encounters" series Tuesday afternoon at the Newport Harbor Art Museum.
Nomi was one of eight young musicians selected by the society to perform before an audience of their peers at various schools throughout the county during the next three months. Selected by auditions, the musicians range in age from 8 to 16.
Nomi played her composition, "Dreaming Fantasy," as well as four selections from Schumann's "Kinderscenen" and Schubert's Impromptu in E-flat. Nomi is a fifth-grade student at John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Artesia and has been studying the piano for seven years.
Also appearing on the program was violinist Eric Shiflett, 16, who played Schubert's "The Bee," the Allegro from Kreisler's "Preludium and Allegro" and Ottokar Novacek's "Perpetual Motion." Shiflett is a 10th-grader at Troy High School in Fullerton and has been studying for 10 years. He played on his own 200-year-old Gagliano.
Two groups of fifth-graders from the Santiago Hills Elementary School were bused in to hear the performers in two half-hour sessions. (A scheduled live, interactive cable-television link between the museum and 15 classes of grade school children in the Irvine school system was aborted, however, because construction workers had mistakenly severed some cables.)
"The purpose of the program is to create an informal situation in which performers and audiences can interact," said Erich Vollmer, executive director of the Orange County Philharmonic Society. "We auditioned 34 young musicians and picked eight. I was very impressed with the level of quality among the auditionees."
The programs are offered free to all Orange County public and private schools and reach about 300,000 students a year, according to Vollmer.
"We've been presenting various youth programs since 1956, but this is the first time we've collaborated with Newport Harbor Art Museum," he said.
The society raised $126,000 for its 1986 youth programs through the fund-raising efforts of 31 different women's committees in the society throughout the county, according to Jane Grier, chairman of the women's committees.
"Each committee has a fund-raising event, and there are two events in the fall," Grier said. "The money pays for all 10 different youth programs. 'Musical Encounters'--which was inspired by a similar program in Los Angeles--is just one of them.
"We have a different program for every year of school, from second grade through high school. Each was developed specifically for a certain age and maturity and to educate as much as possible while entertaining. In the elementary schools in some districts, this is all the music education they get," Grier said.
Other society youth program events include: live concerts with the Disneyland band, a traveling van filled with musical instruments that tours the county and various in-school solo and ensemble performances.
The next Musical Encounters take place today in La Habra at Sierra Vista Elementary School at 10 a.m. and Las Positas Elementary School at 11 a.m.