Emmy-winning composer, electric violinist, and music education advocate Mark Wood travels the country inspiring audiences of all ages. On Sunday at 3 p.m., he’s performing close to his Port Washington roots with a concert at the Tilles Center in nearby Greenvale.
“I’m thrilled,” Wood said, in an interview at his Port Washington studio.
For Wood, Sunday’s performance is a way of coming full circle. Not only will he be performing with his band, The Mark Wood Experience, in his own backyard, he’s training local music educators to implement his music education curriculum. What’s more, his Sunday concert will also feature the LIU Post Orchestra and the Long Island Sound Vocal Jazz Ensemble, as well as area high school musicians.
Wood tours the country, bringing his “Electrify Your Strings” programs to 60-plus schools annually, helping to boost young people's self-esteem and motivation. This last decade, he’s worked with more than 100,000 students, mostly at high schools, raising upward of $1 million towards music education programs.
Depending on the district, Wood and sometimes his band visit a school, providing workshops and rehearsals, culminating in performances that generate revenue for the district through ticket sales and program sponsorships.
And given that colleges have their own share of funding issues and often aren’t set up to bring in new programs, “this is a tremendous opportunity to me,” he noted.
Wood said that prior to Sunday, he taught his curriculum to high school music educators from Bethpage, Hempstead, North Babylon, Westbury and Oceanside, who will then teach it to their students. Then, Wood’s band – including his wife, singer Laura Kaye, and their 17-year-old son, drummer Elijah Wood – will perform with those students and also the LIU Post orchestra this weekend at Sunday's show.
The program came about when Caitlin White, a cellist with the LIU Post Orchestra and former Electrify Your Strings student who attended Wood’s summer performance camp, received a $10,000 gift from a family friend.
“Caitlin was told to do something to make an impact on society,” Wood said. “She singlehandedly focused the planning of this massive event."
Wood said he’s been meeting and working with music professors during the last several months to develop the program.
Sunday’s concert, which will feature music by Led Zeppelin, Rush, Beatles, and Wood’s original material, will differ from the program he puts on at high schools.
“This is more of a professional orchestra,” he said of the musicians at LIU Post, noting that 90 percent of the musicians are performance majors, and 10 percent study music education. “It’s a concert with the local symphony – the students are that high caliber.”
Asked how he feels about performing in front of many who knew him growing up, Wood said, “It’s going to be awesome – a Schreiber High School reunion.”
Tickets for the show can be purchased sale now for $25 ($15 students/seniors).