Albert- Einstein Gymnasium Symphony Orchestra Visits Ferndale High

STUDENT REVIEW and PARENT REVIEW:  We were fortunate to have both a parent and a student independently send us articles on the  Albert Einstein Gymnasium Symphony Orchestra at Ferndale High School on June 11, 2011.  Thank you Clara Strzalkowski and Dawn Migan for sending in your stories, and to Brian R. Douglas for doing the photography!


STUDENT REVIEW: Albert Einstein Gymnasium Symphony Orchestra at FHS

(Clara Strzalkowski, 7/13/2011)


On Monday, July 11th, I attended the Albert Einstein Gymnasium Symphony Orchestra’s performance at Ferndale High School.  This orchestra, made up of amazingly talented students from Germany, performed a wide variety of pieces such as Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony as well as songs from West Side Story, but to the surprise of the audience and myself, they opened by playing our national anthem.


Roger Smith, the Vice Principal of FHS, said, “It’s really neat to have them here.”  He then told me to talk to Benjamin Moy, the orchestra teacher for the beginning fourth graders as well as those in both middle school and high school.  So I waited out the concert, enjoying every minute of it especially when listening to Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain and even the Pirates of the Caribbean theme song.


Then I went to find Mrs. Traines, another person Mr. Smith told me about, saying that she “orchestrated this whole thing, no pun intended.”  Since she is a music program mom, she is very busy helping out after concerts, but while she was on her way outside I asked her what it was like to have these wonderful students here, she replied with an amazing answer, “It helped Ferndale kids realize the music program is more than our school, and you know, now that we have Facebook the friends that they made over this experience can stay in contact with them and vice versa.”

When we both got outside the AEG Symphony Orchestra was lined up for pictures and it was like they were celebrities and all the program’s parents were paparazzi, I tried to join in the fray but as soon as I got my camera out some local students decided to dump ice water on Mr. Moy, then everyone dispersed and I was left with no pictures and sore ribs from laughing so hard.


After Mr. Moy’s summer cool off, I grabbed two minutes with him and asked a few q’s hoping the a’s would be just as awesome as the concert.


When I asked him that first question that I had asked everyone else, he said, “Really cool, everyone was great, nice, and really talented.”  I then asked him how these fabulous people came to play at FHS and he told me that the other place ended up double booked or something so things didn’t work out.

That made me fall back onto something that Mary Beth had said, she told me that everyone stepped up to help them out, even if a family wasn’t involved in orchestra or band they volunteered to do things like provide housing, bring food for the concert, as well as other things.  All in all, this entire event was very different from other concerts that I’ve been too.


Everyone involved appeared to be like a big family, both inside the auditorium and when taking the big group photo, I felt very happy to see something so beautiful and so rare, besides how many times has and orchestra from another country come to your high school and played on the same stage as you?  Hopefully they come again next year, maybe then I can get a shot of all that marvelous talent on my itty bitty camera. If not it’s a true story I can tell my kids about with or without proof.


PARENT REVIEW:  Albert- Einstein Gymnasium Symphony Orchestra Visits Ferndale High

(Dawn Migan, 7/13/2011)

The fact that Ferndale Schools continually strive to support excellence in musical education may come as no revelation to the local community.  However, it was a delightful surprise to those that attended Monday night’s concert at the Ferndale High School auditorium to discover just how far that reach extends.  In support of Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp International Exchange Program, Ferndale Schools musical directors, Benjamin Moy and Elon Jamison, gladly accepted the last minute request (due to another school’s cancellation) to host the Albert- Einstein Gymnasium Symphony Orchestra from Böblingen, Germany.

For years, Ferndale Schools have supported their students & Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp with annual auditions and encouragement to attend their prestigious summer programs, and with good reason.  “The continued education that Blue Lake offers is invaluable to a young artist, especially during the lax summer months”, provided one parent.  “It’s an experience well worth the cost.”  Monday night seemed to be an exercise in just how those benefits can come back around, full circle.

“Impressive” would be an understatement as to how this orchestra performed many familiar pieces within an hour and a half show in the well warmed auditorium.  Personally, I’d never seen musicians taking water during pauses in their performance, but it was completely understandable and made me appreciate their efforts all the more.  Conducted by Stephan Bergdot, 65 students ranging in ages from 13 to 19 performed exceptionally, and will continue to do so, on their two week tour.  With classics like Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain and contemporaries such as the medley from Pirates of the Caribbean, there were pieces to be enjoyed by all.  In addition, there was zero cost for admission.  How can one beat such a show for free?  Kid Rock?  His show didn’t contain half the talent that these young musicians displayed.

The warmest, most heart-felt thanks must go out to the near thirty local families that hosted these exceptional youths on their journey.  Not only did they answer the call to help out on such short notice, but from witnessing the exchanges between students and families, I’m sure they demonstrated just how fantastic Ferndale can be!

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