Students get chance to shine

Published 9:38 pm Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Peter Ostroushko, Clay Jenkinson and Ballet Virginia International aren’t the only performances coming up in December at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts.

A new program at the center is ensuring that the city’s student musicians get a chance to play for the public, as well.

“We really want to create more opportunities for students to perform,” said center executive director Paul Lasakow. “One way we can do this is to have them perform before our regular events.”

The Lakeland string orchestra performed on Nov. 15 prior to the Hurrah Players’ production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” Other groups from Suffolk’s middle and high schools are scheduled for most of the remaining performances, Lasakow said.

“Making sure student artists have opportunities to ply their craft is more important than any big star we might have on our stage,” Lasakow said.

Lasakow said education and community outreach director Jody Mazur was the one who came up with the idea, but Mazur deflected the recognition.

“It’s not an original idea,” Mazur said, noting that the important part is the opportunity for the students. “The kids get a chance to perform.”

The Nansemond River High School chorus will perform before the Peter Ostroushko show Dec. 11. The King’s Fork Middle School strings will appear Dec. 12, with the Lakeland strings back on Dec. 13, both for performances of The Nutcracker Suite by Ballet Virginia International. King’s Fork Middle School’s band will perform before Clay Jenkinson’s “Holidays at Monticello” performance.

“We’re being very aggressive about making sure we’ve got students performing as much as possible,” Lasakow said. “Whatever we can do to utilize our facilities to augment the artistic educational process.”

The performances are another step toward Lasakow’s self-avowed mission of making the center an educational venue.

“It’s just another piece of the Suffolk Center moving toward being a true community arts center,” Lasakow said.