Peekskill students rock out with classical music

Photo by Sue Guzman Daisy Jopling played Michael Jackson’s "Thriller" on Feb. 17 for Peekskill Middle School students.

PEEKSKILL - Ever hear Michael Jackson's "Thriller" played on the violin?

Nearly 600 students at Peekskill Middle School did on Feb. 17 as internationally acclaimed classical and rock violinist Daisy Jopling brought her high energy performance style and vibrant personality to the Peekskill Middle School auditorium.

In addition to her crowd-pleasing interpretation of Jackson's "Thriller," Jopling treated students to a rendition of Antonio Vivaldi's "Winter" from his "Four Seasons," played on both the violin and electric violin and interspersed with elements of reggae, disco and rock.

The students, many of whom admitted they had never listened to classical music before, reacted with amazement. Sixth-graders Jessica and Autumn chimed in unison, "It was awesome!"

"I loved the Michael Jackson song," Autumn said. "I thought it was gonna be like Beethoven and stuff; things that I don't listen to. But all of a sudden, she started playing and, like, I'm reconsidering playing the violin now."

One of the instruments Jopling plays is a 232-year-old violin created by Italian violin maker Antonio Gragnani. She has been playing violin since the age of 3. Her solo career began at age 14 when she performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London and she has played for a crowd of 30,000 at the opening of the Vienna Festival in Austria. Now, she says, her focus in on young children, and exposing them to classical music.

Jopling recently moved back to Peekskill and was "disheartened" to learn that there had been cuts to the music programs in the area's schools.

"As a Peekskill resident, I want to share my love of music while giving back to the local community," she said. "Music is obviously a big part of my life. I'm a professional musician. But, I know that giving children a chance to learn a musical instrument gives them the discipline, the power to perform. It gives you confidence."

Jopling will perform with her band at the Paramount Center for the Performing Arts in Peekskill on Saturday March 19. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to benefit the Peekskill Education Foundation, Hendrick Hudson Community Education Foundation ,and the Paramount Center's Arts in Education Program. The Hendrick Hudson High School Choir will open the show.

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