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Kids Celebrate End of Summer with Rock Music

One Twenty One grooves on stage. Band 121 includes student musicians Ashton Smith, Paul Gonatarz, Aaron Douglass, Sophia Morales, Hayden Smith, Hannah Smith on vocals and music teacher/clinician Sean Wolford.

Contemporary Music Center (CMC) students performed popular rock music at their Rock Camp’s end-of-summer concert at the Hylton Performing Arts Center Last Sunday.

According to owner Menzie Pittman, blogger at Tubidy and the owner of the nationally recognized music school located in Haymarket and Chantilly, some of their young performers had attended season after season, so he promised a concert to wow the audience.

“It might be the best kid event that comes through this area—definitely, the most unique,” Pittman said.

Violinist Emily Stedman and Violist Andrew Taylor of Stay Tuned perform a string arrangement by Taylor.

There were actually two concerts, afternoon and evening performances, with different bands performing in each. 

After a strong performance from Harmony Inc.’s award-winning vocal female quartet Epic to open the concert, performers appeared from least to most experienced.

However, performers impressed the audiences right from the beginning since young rockers played fan favorites accurately while projecting the flair and stage presence of rock stars.

Pittman said that was the idea—to have student musicians demonstrate their skills and feel like rock stars in the process.

The Riffs get the audience psyched for the show. Riley Hanna on vocals, along with Joseph Spitz, Willis Martin, Gary Kershner and Rhett Walters.

“We want them to have a good time: spike up their hair, put a fedora on, stand in front of the lights and really feel perfect, because they absolutely are the stars of the show,” Pittman said.

However, by the time the older students performed, it stopped feeling like a recital and really felt like a rock concert held in an intimate venue, where everyone had great seats.

The highlight of the show was the finale by the 7-piece band, Stay Tuned, a band comprised of teens from Patriot and Battlefield high schools, many of whom have attended Rock Camp for several years.

Stay Tuned demonstrated their versatility through playing such diverse tunes as “Eleanor Rigby” by the Beatles, “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Mule and “Many the Miles” by Sara Bareilles. They benefited not only from having a big band, but from also having a majority of musicians who play more than one instrument.

Shifter looking cool in their sunglasses. Shifter is composed of Gabriel Kuenzli, Forest Kuenzli, Wim Tapley and Derek Farmer.

“We have a lot of vocalists, and everyone in our band plays multiple instruments,” said Emily Stedman, who plays violin, bass and sings.

They also performed an original string composition composed by 16-year-old Andrew Taylor.

Teen band, The Found, who works closely with the charitable organization Guitars Not Guns, played a set featuring the harmony of twins Karling and Kameron Wilhelm, while the rest of the band played along on violin, guitar and drums.

Younger bands also wowed the audience with their musicianship and rock-star moxie.

Eddie Zapf performs with DKD on keyboard.

The millennial-born rockers from western Prince William County and Warrenton performed as One Twenty One and had the audience grooving to turn-of-the-century hits from the Foo Fighters and Gnarls Barkley.

Shifter, featuring Fairfax male musicians ages 9-14, began with a rendition of Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life,” then progressed through punk and pop songs, all while wearing cool sunglasses.

“All of us had to work together because if one person looks bad, we all do,” said guitarist Gabriel Kuenzli.

Middle school band, Vinyl Phoenix, rose from the ashes of their former band of six, playing Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love.”

Sabano has an 80s electronic feel to their music. Sabano is composed of Tyler Plazio, Sebastian Sabahi, Ethan Porter, Z Wagner and Matthew Kraynak.

Pittman praised drummer and bass player, 12-year-old Cameron Thistle, as “one of the coolest guys in music today.”

Elementary-aged Rock Camp bands also demonstrated their versatility by playing a mix of hard and classic rock, pop, hip-hop and punk.

The Riffs started their show strong with “Proud Mary,” and Callate Meg played some punk rock from the band Blink-182.

Toward the end of the second show, 7-year-old Eddie Zapf showed his keyboard chops with DKD playing “In Cars” and “Louie, Louie.”

Band members from One Twenty One are ready to take the stage.

Sabano hit all the right notes, asking the audience, “Are you ready to rock?” before entrancing them with Jimmi Hendrix’s “All along the Watchtower.”

Summer Pittman, guitarist, keyboardist and vocalist for Stay Tuned, said she has seen the concert progress over the six years of the Rock Camp program and that it gets better every year due to returning students, as well their new students.

More information can be found about the Contemporary Music Center on their website.






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