CPS Hosts Young Musicians from across USA for NPR's "From the Top"


At age 10, pianist Avery Gagliano from Washington, D.C., is the youngest performer for the Potsdam “From the Top” show, which closes the Community Performance Series 2011-12 Guest Artist Series.

Community Performance Series will be abuzz with the sounds of music and children’s laughter as it hosts eight young musicians from across the country for the April 21 recording of National Public Radio’s “From the Top.”

Hosted by pianist Christopher O’Riley, the preeminent showcase for young people will be recorded live at the Helen M. Hosmer Concert Hall at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 21, as the final CPS Guest Artist Series event of the 2011-12 season. “From the Top” music producer Tom Vignieri will offer a pre-concert talk at 6:30 p.m.

The Potsdam “From the Top” broadcast will feature several of the most talented young performers from across the country. Musicians include: John Lee, a 17-year-old cellist from Basking Ridge, N.J.; Avery Gagliano, a 10-year-old pianist from Washington, D.C.; Jieming Tang, a 14-year-old violinist from Cleveland, Ohio; Margaux Filet, an 18-year-old flutist from Davis, Calif., and the Al Dente String Quartet, which is comprised of 14-year-old violinist Adé Williams, 17-year-old violinist Claire Bourg, 16-year-old violist Caitlin Adamson and 16-year-old cellist Tara Safavi.

Each of these talented young musicians will travel to Potsdam for the opportunity to share their story and talents with not only the North Country audience, but also a national one. It may seem far, but for some musicians, Potsdam isn’t so different from where they call home.

“Davis, California is the city I have grown up in and it is also a small college town which houses the University of California at Davis,” said Margaux Filet. “It has been wonderful growing up in a college town because of the supportive people in the community and the incredible musicians who I have seen perform at UCD. College towns are amazing!”

Throughout the “From the Top” performance, host Christopher O’Riley will facilitate interviews, sketches and games with the musicians, revealing the heart and soul behind these extraordinary young people. Though music and performance is something they all have in common, each musician has a unique story to tell.

“I have made and flown at least 500 paper airplanes since I started my aviation hobby when I was in kindergarten,” said Jieming Tang. “I can also do magic tricks.”

“I love dancing, singing and art in general. I also love many sports, such as swimming and biking,” said Avery Gagliano, the youngest of the performers. “I also love to do math challenges and to read. I always enjoy movie time, and I’ve recently discovered an interest in cooking.”

In addition to the performance, several activities will take place over the weekend. Two musicians, including Margaux Filet and John Lee, will make stops at both Potsdam and Canton high schools on Friday, April 20. They will perform and visit with music students, sharing their experiences, as well as their advice for becoming a successful musician.

“Music is the only universal language in the world and it is really powerful,” Filet said. “Appreciate the pieces you are playing and listen to many people play. When studying your music, look at the music scores when listening to the artist play the piece.”

Lee suggests thinking of music as a story. “The story does not have to make sense or have complete coherence, but just having it in mind helps to draw music out of the notes one plays,” he said.

The local high school students have also been invited to view a dress rehearsal Saturday prior to the performance, where they can speak with all of the musicians and get an up-close look at the performance process.

On Sunday, April 22, the musicians will participate in the “From the Top” Arts Leadership Orientation, which will be held at North Country Public Radio’s headquarters in Canton. For every broadcast, “From the Top” invites all musicians to participate in the orientation, which prepares young musicians to be instruments of change in their communities through multiple pathways.

The Potsdam “From the Top” recording will be aired nationally the week of May 21 and on North Country Public Radio on Sunday, May 27 at 4 p.m.

Tickets for the Potsdam broadcast start at $28 for adults, $25 for seniors and SUNY Potsdam faculty/staff, and $14 for students. Tickets can be purchased by visiting the CPS Box Office, located in the lobby of Sara M. Snell Music Theater on the SUNY Potsdam campus, or at Northern Music & Video in downtown Potsdam.

Tickets can also be purchased by calling (315) 267-2277 or visiting www.cpspotsdam.org.

The Community Performance Series presentation of “From the Top” has been sponsored in part by the Northern New York Community Foundation and North Country Public Radio, with series underwriting by SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music. Media sponsors include WWNY Channel 7 News/Fox 28 and the Daily Courier-Observer.

The “From the Top” radio program is made possible through grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. The 2011-12 “From the Top” National Tour is sponsored by U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management.

Established in 1989, CPS at SUNY Potsdam is a college-community partnership presenting world-class performing artists and arts education opportunities in Northern New York. A rich mixture of programs links community, classroom, and audiences of all ages while preserving access to the performing arts for future generations.

For more information about CPS events, visit www.cpspotsdam.org.

For more information about “From the Top,” visit www.fromthetop.org.