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Teenage Rock Stars

The Rokafonik Philharmonik is certainly no School of Rock. Although the group is composed of all teenage musicians from age 14 to 19, none of them are new to their instruments, nor are they just learning how to play. And according to the group's conductor, Cliff Wallach Greenberg, these kids already flat out rock. "All the kids here are high level musicians who've been training in a variety of styles, from classical to jazz to improvisation, since they were four or five," says Greenberg. "They play at a level most adults never get to."

The group is the brainchild of Greenberg, a Broward-based private music instructor with over 12 years experience in the business. Greenberg says he was amazed by the talent exhibited by some of the student musicians he knew, even though most of them had never even played in front of an actual audience before. So last February, he decided to start holding auditions to find the brightest young student musicians around and give them the opportunity to perform in a band with their peers. Since many of the students are juniors and seniors in high school, Rokafonik also gives them the chance to feel what performing in a professional setting is like before they head off to college and choose their majors.

Rokafonik began rehearsing last June, drawing from the deep pool of complex classic rock tunes of the ΄70s and ΄80s. Greenberg says he chose classic rock as the theme because it's challenging enough to keep the student's interest, but also fun to play. And since the members of the band play both conventional and unconventional instruments, Greenberg worked with the students to tailoring songs like Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" or Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" to fit their set up. "Any instrument can be an outlet for rock," says Greenberg. "We've experimented with things like putting a clarinet through an effects pedal. It's not about regurgitating popular songs, but letting these kids interpret the music themselves."

Tonight, the Rokafonik group will perform a set list of 18 classic rock tunes at the Talent Farm (20911 Johnson St., #111, Pembroke Pines). The concert will be webcast live, and will also include a performance by the Rock Music Band, Greenberg's group for young musicians age 12 to 13. The performance costs $10 to attend, and it's likely to be packed — the group’s last show at the Hollywood Playhouse in late January nearly sold out. Call 954-438-3488, or visit rokafonik.com.
Fri., Feb. 27, 8 p.m., 2009

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John Linn

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