Local high school students to perform with chart-topping group Black Violin at the Lied Center

Acclaimed music group Black Violin will welcome Lawrence High and Free State High School orchestra students onstage with them at the Lied Center on Saturday, October 19. Black Violin’s performance begins at 7:30 pm, and the students will perform with the group during a portion of the show. Mariah Barnett and Judy Erpelding, orchestra directors at Lawrence High School and Free State High School, respectively, assembled the student performers for the concert.

“The students have been so excited for the opportunity to perform with Black Violin. Black Violin is a group that truly breaks the stereotypes that are put on classical musicians and shows us that we can do so much more with the skills that we learn in our school orchestras,” comments Barnett.

Black Violin comprises classically trained violist and violinist Wil Baptiste (Will B.) and Kevin Sylvester (Kev Marcus), who first began playing together in their high school orchestra class. They use their unique blend of classical and hip-hop music to overcome stereotypes, while encouraging people of all ages, races and economic backgrounds to join together and break down cultural barriers. Creative collaborations include Kanye West, Aerosmith, Tom Petty, Wu-Tang Clan, Wyclef Jean and Alicia Keys, and their last album, Stereotypes, hit #1 on Billboard’s Classical Crossover Chart and #4 on Billboard’s R&B Chart. NPR praised the album and band, saying “their music will keep classical music alive for the next generation.”

As advocates for educational outreach, Black Violin performs for more than 100,000 students annually throughout North America and Europe. The group played at Lied Center school performances for USD 497 students in 2011 and 2015. In 2017, the Lied Center named Black Violin as an IMPACT Award recipient for their dedication to performing arts education and musical excellence.

Black Violin is currently bringing their high-energy performances across the country with their “Impossible Tour.” With the tour, they aim to uplift audiences and spread the message that there are no limits to what one can achieve. As Wil B. explains, “When you come to a Black Violin concert, there are so many people in the audience experiencing something together. To me, that’s what our show does, it brings people together. Not only that, you’re being inspired, you’re being uplifted, you’re able to see something you probably have never seen before.” The band recently released two tracks, “Dreamer” and “Showoff,” from its forthcoming album, Take the Stairs, releasing November 1, 2019.

Student Performers

  • Lawrence High students

    • Lisa Yang, Violin I
    • Anna Marburger, Violin I
    • Donnavan Dillon, Violin I
    • Anoosha Redd, Violin II
    • Felix Guo, Violin II
    • Emma Parsons, Violin II
    • Isaac Seybold, Viola
    • Julia Rossillon, Viola
    • Rose Hicks, Viola
    • Joohye Oh, Viola
    • Ella Williams, Cello
    • Gabriel Kennedy Orive, Cello
    • Sophia Ousdahl, Cello
    • Emmeline Schneider, Bass
  • Free State students

    • Alina Matejkowski, Violin I
    • Micah Steele, Violin I
    • Chloe Frazier, Violin I
    • Julia Lin, Violin II
    • Sofia Lefort, Violin II
    • Maura Shire, Violin II
    • Alli Pittman, Viola
    • Terry Mechem, Viola
    • Dingding Ye, Viola
    • Alex Chavez, Cello
    • Jake Chun, Cello
    • Morgan Kimuri, Cello
    • Makayla Atherton, Cello
    • Elijah Ditto, Bass