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Centerville Orchestra Students Performing with Mads Tolling

Updated: Mar 2, 2023

By Shauna Sandhu March 2, 2023

If you haven't heard yet, Mads Tolling, Danish-American 2x Grammy-winning violinist is coming to perform alternative music at Centerville on Thursday, March 9, with the orchestra students and have two clinics. We talked with CHS Orchestra Director, Julie Ann Bernard, to tell us the backstory of this incredible event.

Mrs. Bernard recounts how Tolling and the Madsmen were asked to perform at Centerville through the Miami Valley Community Concert Association in 2021. The concert was planned to be held in the CHS PAC, which sparked a member of the Association to reach out to Tolling, inquiring if he’d want to have a clinic with the students. Tolling came in and showed the students alternative styles of string music and they all jammed to “Smooth Criminal”. Mrs. Bernard questioned the students if they’d want to work with him again; when they expressed interest, she initiated a plan for another clinic as well as a performance.

A lot of dedicated and extensive planning goes into the Centerville Schools Orchestra Guest Artist Program. Mrs. Bernard must discuss the event with the artist's support staff, communicate with the artist, and publicize the event. For the clinics, she consulted Tolling’s publicist and closely communicated with Tolling himself about the pieces' progress. Her role also consists of delivering a press kit to publicize the artist and his agency, along with the help of district PR Sarah Swan. Other work includes conferring with the theater crew about setup and inviting the other guests: Mr. Carpenter on drums, Mr. Tedman on bass, and a sound technician as Tolling plays plugged in. To keep everything organized, she was sure to build a master schedule as well. In her own words, she describes the multiple moving parts as “creating a triangle of communication.”

Concerts and clinics are critical to the Guest Artist Program which started back in 2009 with a generous grant from the Centerville Arts Commission. The original money is remade with ticket sales of the concerts with guest artists. Former guest artists include Mark Wood, Emmy-winning composer, electric violinist, and a former member of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra; Jon McCullough-Benner, principal bass player for Milwaukee Symphony; and Rachel Barton Pine, violinist, and gold medal winner of the International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition.

Mrs. Bernard values the ability to acquire artists who are at the height of their profession; moreover, they share their talents as well as their stories with the students as it helps create important memories and opportunities. She alludes to ,“the importance for young musicians to have contact with what we consider music heroes - you know young athletes will look towards college level and pro level that they emulate or want to play like - we need those tangible experiences as well”. These amazing clinical experiences are something she dedicates herself to as their worth is recognizable.

The amount of support from the community is astounding as even the Centerville Noon Optimists donated a grant to the program. Mrs. Bernard feels touched by, “ the people who are willing to look at that ticket price and realize it’s not just that evening of music but also what they’re giving to our program”. If you’re interested, make sure to purchase tickets online ( ) as general admission costs $20. Tickets can also be purchased at a kiosk the night of the show. It takes place at 7 pm (doors open at 6:30 pm), on Thursday, March 9 at the Performing Arts Center, 500 E. Franklin St.


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