Upper Arlington News

Bears to Beijing Gala

UA group one of three in nation invited to tour China


Upper Arlington's student musicians will get a little help from their friends Sunday, March 16, for a Bears to Beijing Gala to support their 12-day concert tour of China.

Guest artists from ProMusica Chamber Orchestra and Columbus Symphony Orchestra will perform during the first half of the evening. The Upper Arlington Symphony Strings Orchestra will perform during the second half, orchestra director Ed Zunic said.

The gala is scheduled from 3 to 6 p.m. in the auditorium at Hastings Middle School, 1850 Hastings Lane.

Tickets cost $30 for adults and $10 for children younger than 18. They may be purchased at the door or online at uastrings.org.

Zunic said the 35-member Symphony Strings Orchestra was one of three American high school orchestras selected for the trip to China.

Dori Jennings, from the Upper Arlington Parents Orchestra Association, said the gala will help pay for the orchestra's trip to Beijing this summer. The student musicians were invited to join "The League of Astonishing Strings" on a 12-day concert tour of China.

Jennings said a silent auction at the gala will include opportunities to bid on Homewood Suites and Sheraton Capitol Square rooms; classes and memberships for driving, speed reading, cooking, dance, yoga and music; autographed sports items; Cincinnati Reds tickets; tickets to local arts events, including Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Columbus Jazz Orchestra, Carpe Diem String Quartet, Columbus Museum of Art and Columbus Children's Theater performances.

A number of gift certificates from local restaurants and small businesses also will be auctioned and a $1,800 violin will be raffled off, she said.

"We also just got Dr. Adam Parson of Northstar Animal Care and the Upper Arlington Veterinary Hospital to agree to offer a day of shadowing him at his practice for a student in grades six and up," Jennings said. "This is a very unique opportunity that money usually can't buy."

The gala includes a reception catered by local restaurants China Dynasty and ZenCha Tea Salon.

The high school orchestra recently traveled to Louisville, Ky., to perform at the National Orchestra Festival, where the students received a standing ovation, Zunic said.

In the past 10 years, Symphony Strings students have performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City and at venues in Detroit, Boston and Toronto.

The trip to China carries a whopping price tag, though, of $110,000.

Jennings said all the students and their parents have been working hard to offset the costs through fundraising efforts and asking for donations from local businesses. The strings students also have been giving music lessons to younger students in the strings program.

Donations may be made online at uastrings.org.

The concert tour in China will start June 24 and will include performances in six cities.

Jennings said the work ethic of the students and the music leadership makes the high school music program a special one.

"These kids really work hard and it shows," she said.