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36th Annual Spring Concert

Suzuki Strings Presents Spring Concert May 2
By Lindsay Szczesny

The Suzuki Strings will present their 36th annual spring concert on Thursday, May 2 in the Thorley Recital Hall (SUU Music Building) at 7:00 pm. A $5 donation is appreciated.

About three decades ago, Sara Penny moved back to her hometown of Cedar City with her young family. She had a degree in journalism, but soon found her passion for teaching music. While teaching violin to college students at SUSC, she realized that many of their technical difficulties could have been addressed when they were beginners. The popular Suzuki method outlined an approach for helping children learn to play instruments beautifully from a young age, and Mrs. Penny sought training in the method and began teaching local children to play the violin. Penny collaborated with another violin teacher, Shannon Pointer, who had actually studied with Dr. Suzuki in Japan, and they started teaching a group class for young violinists.

Over the years, Suzuki Strings of Cedar City has provided wonderful opportunities for kids from Southern Utah to play string music together in weekly group classes. Their first song is often Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and eventually they learn to play difficult concertos. As teenagers, these students are also usually involved in their school orchestra programs and take private lessons, too. Of course, a giant benefit is the friendships that develop amongst the students.

The upcoming Spring Concert features all the students involved in the program, from very young beginners to advanced players. The audience will enjoy selections by Bach, Handel, Dvorak, and Schumann, as well as fiddle songs Polly Wolly Doodle and Cotton Eye Joe. The Suzuki Orchestra will play Somewhere Over the Rainbow and the familiar Spring Concerto by Vivaldi. This piece features the soloist Irene Hu, 13, who plays in the Cedar Middle School orchestra and takes violin lessons from Heather Wilhelm. Her parents are Howard Hu and Sunny Chen of Cedar City.

Mrs. Penny is stepping back from her many responsibilities as the director of Suzuki Strings in order to spend more time with her husband and adorable grandchildren. Her service and organizational skills are so appreciated in the arts community as she tirelessly works with the Cedar City Arts Council, The Orchestra of Southern Utah, and the students in her violin studio. As her daughter Bridget Lee stated, “I think she is the hardest-working person I’ve ever met. And she is passionate about giving kids these kinds of opportunities.”

I am one of the former students fortunate enough to benefit from the diligence and vision of Sara Penny. And with gratitude we all say thank you for your many years of dedicated service and great teaching. We hope to keep this organization strong for many more generations of young string players.
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