By MEGAN HUSSEY
Photos courtesy of All Saints Academy.
She has performed for two popes, international presidents, and professional sporting teams. She has performed on The Today Show, CBS Sunday Morning, and many other programs. And Feb. 17, renowned classical violinist Rachel Barton Pine will perform to benefit a Hernando County school; one whose reach and impact is just as universal as her music.
Violinist Rachel Barton Pine and pianist Matthew Hagle will perform 7:30 p.m. Monday, February 17, at the University of South Florida, 3755 USF Holly Drive, Tampa. The concert is being hosted by Queen of All Saints Academy in Brooksville, and will benefit the school’s Queen of All Saints Academy online learning program. Also performing will be the Queen of All Saints Academy Children’s Choral.
“We are holding a charity concert to raise funds for an exciting education program,” said Sister Mary Magdalene, a teacher at Queen of All Saints Academy and the director of music at this school. “The program is designed to offer a quality education to children who do not have this opportunity due to location, health, or tuition.”
The goal of the online academy, says Sister Mary Magdalene, is to offer children around the world a one of a kind educational opportunity.
“The online program at QAS is unique and boundary-defying. There is none like it that I can find,” she said. “What is incredible about the program is that the online student participates in school in the exact same way (and in the same classroom) as the on campus student. The online student attends the full 5 hours of class, speaking to the teacher and fellow students, submitting answers, competing, etc. No longer will location, health, or funding decide the quality of education. We teach students from Canada, South America, Australia, and 17 states of the U.S.”
The QAS Online Academy has been serving K-12 students since 2016, and currently includes 112 students, half online, half on campus.
“We were first inspired to start the program because of the many requests from parents out-of-state or in distant Florida cities to have their children board. We did not have the space or facilities to start a boarding school. Then parents would follow up their request with the question as to whether we offered online tutoring,” said Sister Mary Magdalene. “These children were unable to attend a school due to remote location, health, or they were looking for a higher quality education than could be had locally. So we began researching and experimenting to see what it would take to bring these children into the classroom.”
To raise funds for the school, this longtime music teacher conceptualized a charity concert featuring Rachel Barton Pine, described by the Washington Post as a “boundary-defying performer” who first picked up a violin at age 3, debuted professionally at age 7, and debuted with the Chicago Symphony at age 10. She was the first American and youngest ever gold medal winner of the International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition, and has won nearly 20 music industry awards.
“Music has always been a primary focus at QAS. The students partake either in the choir or take private lessons in an instrument of their choice. Every year, we have a concert for the parents to see the progress the students have made,” explained Sister Mary Magdalene. “Don Mandeville at BB&T suggested we do a concert and invite a famous artist, telling us how Clearwater Aquarium had great success with their benefit concert. I am a violin teacher, and immediately thought of Rachel Barton Pine whom I greatly admire. I sent an email to Rachel’s managing company making the request. I explained what our program does and that we were hoping to expand our facilities. Amazingly, they responded yes, and offered the 17th and 18th as dates since she would be touring in Tampa at that time. We chose the 17th since it is President’s Day and a day off for the schools.”
Barton Pine also oversees a global foundation that supports the needs of underprivileged music students, and is volunteering her services for the Feb. 17 concert.
“I’m glad that I can do a special program,” said Barton Pine. “A benefit for the school.”
Violinist Rachel Barton Pine and pianist Matthew Hagle will perform a program that includes Chevalier de Saint-Georges : Sonata No. 2 in A major, Ludwig Van Beethoven : Sonata No. 9 in A major, Op. 47, “Kreutzer,” and Brahms : Sonata No. 3 in D minor, Op. 108.
“The repertoire at the concert is unique,” said Sister Mary Magdalene. “Rachel Barton Pine champions the work of lesser-known composers. As President of the Music by Black Composers foundation, she earned a National Public Radio Heritage Award nomination for her album “Violin Concertos by Black Composers of the 18th and 19th Centuries,” which sheds light on musicians of African descent who have made significant contributions to classical music. She will be performing two pieces to tell this story.”
Joseph Bologne Chevalier de Saint-Georges, according to Barton Pine, is a prime example of an African composer whose work has long been overlooked.
“He was known as Mozart Noir,” she explained. “He was so talented, and more people need to know about him.”
And Sister Mary Magdalene takes equal pride in the concert’s other featured performers.
“Queen of All Saints Academy Children’s Choir will be performing two pieces,” she said. “One by contemporary composer Bruno Coulais, and the traditional “Ave Maria” in honor of the school’s Catholic patron, Mary our mother.”
She says that all of her school’s students are doing their part to make the concert a rousing success.
“The children are so excited for the concert. At our school, everyone pitches in to keep up and run the school, and the students are very devoted to it,” said Sister Mary Magdalene. “Having this opportunity is exciting for them and they help as much as they can, passing out flyers to friends, dropping off posters at stores, etc. Everyone is looking forward to the concert and wants to perform at their very best.”
Up to and including the featured performer.
“This is a wonderful program to support,” said Rachel Barton Pine.
For more information about the benefit concert, pricing packages (including an option for a reception and meet and greet with Rachel Barton Pine), visit https://www.rebuildforthefuture.com/. For more about Queen of All Saints Online Academy, visit https://www.qasonline.org/. For more about Rachel Barton Pine, visit https://rachelbartonpine.com/.