Members of the Greenwich Symphony

Media: tsizemoreNT / ctpost.com

GREENWICH — The seven Greenwich Symphony Orchestra members adjusted their students’ posture, practiced scales with them and told them stories from their professional music careers.

For the 60 fourth- through 12th-graders taking a master class with the musicians, the free tutoring session might have been a distant reality — if not for Tuning In To Music.

This year for the first time, the Greenwich Symphony Orchestra partnered with the nonprofit Greenwich Alliance for Education to give special music lessons to Tuning In To Music students, a program that provides free music lessons to low-income Greenwich Public School students.

“We wanted these young musicians to know what it is like to be playing in an orchestra,” said Naomi Graf, a violist for the Greenwich Symphony and event coordinator.

For two hours Tuesday afternoon, seven Symphony musicians divided the students into groups by instrument. Leonardo Suarez Paz, a violinist, taught his students about tango in his native Argentina and how the violin can be used as a percussion instrument. Keri Ann DiBari, a clarinet player, spoke of her 13 years playing in “Beauty in the Beast” on Broadway.

After an hour of practice, the students and professionals played two pieces together: the magnificent “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony then on to "Orillera," a lively Latin-influenced arrangement written by Paz and commissioned by the GSO for the session. It was written with the idea of students playing alongside the professional musicians, Paz said.

Many parents stood in the auditorium of Western Middle School phones out to video the special performance.

Mabel Moreno, an English-as-a-second-language teacher at Hamilton Avenue School, watched two of her daughters, Fernanda and Camilla, on stage.

Seated toward the back, Fernanda joined Tuning In To Music as a fourth-grader. The program supported her with flute lessons throughout middle and high school, where she played in the Greenwich High band. After she graduated high school, her love for music took her to Chile to teach flute and English to students for six months.

Now, a freshman at Mercy College in New York City, she continues to play flute in college.

Camilla, a seventh-grader, is currently enrolled in Tuning into Music and is learning to play the flute and the violin.

“Together, they play all the time,” said Moreno. “(Camilla) plays one hour every day and Fernanda used to play two hours every day, all the time.”

Ken Kuo, president of Connecticut School of Music, has run Tuning In To Music since it was started 11 years ago. The program has special meaning to Kuo, a cellist, because he received a full scholarship to study music at Yale University.

“That is why I am so passionate about this program,” he said. “This is exactly what I received. None of these kids pay a dime. Some of these kids have instruments sponsored by me personally. It’s because now I am able to afford it, so you give back. And this is what America is all about: you take, but you give.”

The master class with Greenwich Symphony Orchestra members was an opportunity to inspire children with less opportunity to participate in professional orchestral music, Kuo said.

“In my 10 years with Tuning In To Music, we’ve never had such a special event before,” he said. “Not many kids will have this opportunity in their lifetime.”

The Greenwich Alliance for Education has invested more than $560,000 in Tuning In To Music. A donation to the nonprofit made the master class possible.

“We have students from all parts of Greenwich playing with skills and confidence in the award-winning band and orchestra programs at Greenwich High School because we have given these students these extra lessons,” said Julie Faryniarz, Executive Director of the Greenwich Alliance. “It is truly a privilege for each student to be nominated by their GPS music teacher and be taught lessons after school by world-renowned music professionals employed by the Connecticut School of Music.”

Kuo said, “This is exactly what the Greenwich Alliance Mission is all about: giving children the opportunity that they would never have” otherwise.”

emunson@greenwichtime.com; Twitter: @emiliemunson