Broadway, jazz and piano: Young musicians take center stage at Lehigh Valley Mall
WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. — Cue the elevator music.
Shoppers at Lehigh Valley Mall on Saturday were entertained by Broadway show tunes, along with classical, pop and jazz, during the Lehigh Valley Music Teachers Association's 41st annual Playathon fundraiser.
- Hundreds of young vocalists and pianists are taking the stage at the Lehigh Valley Mall on Saturday, Feb. 25 and Sunday, Feb. 26
- The students will be singing Broadway show tunes, jazz, pop, and classical music
- The performances are part of a fundraiser for the Lehigh Valley Music Teachers Association
The fundraiser, which runs until 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, and resumes noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26, takes place at three spots in the mall and features about 250 performances by hundreds of young local vocalists and pianists.
First-time jitters, spreading joy
Theresa Ruhl, 14, a Bethlehem Catholic High School student, performed songs from "The King and I," Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella," and "Oklahoma!"
Her vocal teacher, Rosemary Haber, accompanied the singer on a Steinway & Sons baby grand piano — one of three on loan to the association by Jacob's Music of Princeton, New Jersey.
It was Theresa's first-time performing at the mall, and in front of a large crowd of hurried shoppers.
"You'll hear everything from a 4-year-old playing 'Hot Cross Buns' up to a high school senior playing a very advanced Beethoven or Chopin."Kristine Fosbenner, president of Lehigh Valley Music Teachers Association
"I was shaking a little bit, because I usually perform at judged and private concerts," she said.
She was joined by some of Haber's younger students, including Saani Sarkar, 6, Pragya Santra, 10, and Eric Weems, 13.
Santra's mother, Moumita, watched with pride as she recorded her daughter belting out hits from "Annie" and "Ruthless."
"She has been singing with Mrs. Haber since she was five," her mother said. "I like the fact that when she sings, happiness comes out.
"I always tell her to sing in front of others to make them happy. I set up a time for her in March to sing at Country Meadows [retirement community] to give joy to others. She loves singing and practices all the time."
A range of keys — and ages
The musicians range in ability and age.
"You'll hear everything from a 4-year-old playing 'Hot Cross Buns' up to a high school senior playing a very advanced Beethoven or Chopin," Kristine Fosbenner, president of the muic teachers association, said of the mall shows.
And it's a perfect way to get noticed.
"I think it's great because a lot of people can come and see what Mrs. Haber does," Theresa said. "And it's a good way for the younger students to get out there, practice and perform."
Piano teacher Elizabeth Zemanek said she was excited to hear the duet of the day by the Yang brothers, Kendrick and Boquain.
"You don't see that in many piano performances," Zemanek said.
The duo performed an "almost perfect" rendition of "Music Box Dancer" and practiced 10-12 times per day to get it right.
While they couldn't decide who is the better on piano, they agreed it was the one song they could master.
"It wasn't that hard to learn, but we did have to play a lot to get it down," Kendrick said.
How to donate
The teachers and students collected some pledges in advance and donations are welcomed through the events, Fosbenner said.
"At this event we usually raise close to $10,000," she said. "At each performance site, there is a donation box, but the way we work it usually is that the students' parents pledge a certain amount for their child to perform and collect from their family and friends."
The money raised will go toward scholarships for college music majors and camp scholarships for high schoolers.
The performances also help support sending students to the Dorothy Sutton Performance Festival, Musikfest, annual recitals at local colleges and universities, such as Moravian, and lectures.
Performances take place in three areas on the mall’s lower level: elevator court, Boscov’s Court and event Court.