Friday, March 25, 2011

Juneau Student Symphony Collaborative Concert

Juneau, Alaska Music Matters and Juneau Student Symphony perform "Life of the Child"
While studying in Boston, Venezuela and Scotland for the Abreu Fellowship, I witnessed professional orchestra members playing alongside the youth of their communities as a way to help inspire, play authentic music together and demonstrate to their communities that the orchestra is invested in music education.  One powerful example was Gustavo Dudamel's decision to open the LA Phil's season at the Hollywood Bowl with YOLA (Youth Orchestras of Los Angeles) kids playing alongside LA Phil orchestra members.  It was very inspiring both for the musicians, both young and old, and a packed crowd of new audience members.

I hope to see Juneau foster the same kind of mentorship:  kindergarten violinists performing with middle/high school students and members of the Juneau Symphony so that they can experience in one concert the trajectory of their musical life from age five to adulthood.

Rick Trostel, conductor of the Juneau Student Symphony, took that first step by inviting JAMM to perform in the symphony's spring concert.  Rick composed a piece specifically for this collaborative event called The Life of the Child.  Our young musicians echoed the simple melody of the orchestra to represent musically how children learn from their parents.  We played to a packed house bringing new audience members to both organizations.

I want to thank Rick Trostel for seeing the long term opportunity that our young JAMM violinists and their families can bring to the Juneau Student and Juneau Symphonies.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Thank you, JAHC and The Calder Quartet

Calder Quartet plays "Open String Blues" with a JAMM kindergarten class  (photo: Michael Penn,  The Juneau Empire)

Juneau has rich offerings in both arts and culture, and the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council (JAHC) plays a huge part!   They bring artists from all over the country to perform in Juneau, often including concerts for kids during the school day.  The Calder Quartet was one such group who performed a morning concert at our local high school.  Through a Rasmuson Arts Excursion grant, all of our JAMM kindergartners were able to attend.  The Calder Quartet played an eclectic mix of music - both classical and modern - demonstrating to our students the many different styles in which the violin can play.

Here are reflections from a post activity that our kindergartner teachers conducted:

"How did the music make you feel?"
  • "It made me feel better."
  • "It made me want to dance."
  • "It made me feel happy and like I'm in a whole orchestra.  I felt like I was playing the violin."
  • "It made me fell kinda weird, because the one with the hair like mine did music weird."
  • "It made feel good and sad."
When asked, "Did the music create an image or story in your mind?" the children answered:
  • "Yes!  It made me remember about my great grandpa and my uncle who died." 
What made this experience even more memorable for our students was the quartet's surprise visit to a JAMM rehearsal.  Our kindergartners could now perform for them!  Ms. Hickmann's young class of musicians played A and E String Concertos for Ben, Andrew, Jonathan and Eric and then invited them to play along for Open String Blues.  The quartet is photographed above playing on JAMM quarter-sized violins.

Thank you, Calder Quartet, for making time in a very busy schedule to visit Juneau, Alaska Music Matters.  When we met in Los Angeles during the El Sistema Symposium in 2010, you shared how excited and supportive you are of El Sistema-inspired initiatives.  By visiting JAMM, the northern-most initiative, you have inspired Juneau's next generation of musicians. 

And Nancy DeCherney, Executive Director of the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, thank you for investing in the artistic lives of Juneau's children!

Guohua Xia and Lorrie Heagy stand with The Calder Quartet