Arts and Entertainment

String Jam '10 drew nearly 400 musicians in world record attempt

Nearly 400 violin, viola, cello and string bass players from Redmond and the region gathered at the Juanita High School Field House in Kirkland on April 10, for a celebration of string music and an attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the largest string ensemble under one roof.

The "String Jam '10" event drew musicians from 5 to 65 years of age and was organized by the Redmond Region Orchestra Boosters. The event netted approximately $7,500 that will be used to support orchestra programs in the Lake Washington School District.

In compliance with the stringent requirements set by the Guinness World Records organization, String Jam '10 was videotaped and monitored by more than 20 designated observers who were posted throughout the performance area to ensure that all registered participants were actually playing.

At the end of the program, the official witnesses announced that the record-setting attempt appeared to meet all required criteria, but final confirmation from Guinness World Records is expected to take approximately six weeks.

Most of the players at String Jam '10 were public school orchestra students who wanted to demonstrate the importance of school music programs, especially in a weak economy.

The ensemble began the event with a classical piece, Pachelbel's Canon in D and wrapped up its mass performance with Deep Purple's classic rock hit "Smoke on the Water."

Paula C. Ferguson, orchestra teacher at Redmond High School and Redmond Junior High School, had toyed with the idea of having a string "play-a-thon" such as String Jam '10 for some time. Last year, her high school students performed at the prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York City but she has featured many styles of music in her teaching approach, from classical to jazz, country, pop and rock.

"To come up with a little idea, share it with people and actually see it come to fruition is amazing to me, beyond words," Ferguson commented in a follow-up with the Redmond Reporter.

"The excitement, concentration and sheer joy that I saw in participants' faces Saturday is a memory that I will keep forever," said Ferguson. "The event was a great reminder to me that we're not just teaching string playing and music but trying to relay to our students the love of music and how it can be part of them for the rest of their lives."

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