Barston sisters bring strings

DeKALB – Two talented string performers and teachers with roots in the Chicago area will be in DeKalb, Sycamore and at Northern Illinois University May 3 through 5. Cellist Amy Barston and her sister, violinist Elisa Barston, are making school presentations, teaching master classes, conducting a workshop and performing with the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra as part of a guest residency with the NIU Community School of the Arts.

The visit is funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts as part of its Arts Education in American Communities program. Additional funding has been provided by the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the NIU Community School of the Arts.

The Barstons began their studies as Suzuki students with the Music Institute in Evanston, where they grew up. Organizing the activities are Linc Smelser, director of the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra and cello teacher with the community school and Ann Montzka-Smelser, director of the community school’s Suzuki Strings Program.

The residency includes public school tours on Thursday and Friday to West Elementary, North Grove Elementary and Sycamore High School in Sycamore and to Tyler Elementary, Lincoln Elementary and DeKalb High School in DeKalb.

On Thursday, the Barstons make a presentation to the Suzuki violin students and on Friday, they teach master classes to community school cello and violin students. On Saturday, the Barstons conduct a workshop for area and NIU Suzuki string students. On Saturday evening, they perform the Brahms’ Double Concerto for Violin and Cello with the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

All events are open to the public. There is a fee for the KSO concert, but all other events are free.  Details can be found on the community school’s website at or by calling Fran Pugh, NIU Community School of the Arts, at 815-753-1450.

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