Tag Archives: Metropolitan Youth Symphony

There’s an award for that!

A week ago Monday, protestors took to the Arizona state capitol to protest immigration-related legislation—but the governor wasn’t there to witness the gathering.

David and Sonja Faeroy Saar (center) attend 2010 Governor's Arts Awards

She was already scheduled to appear at the 28th annual Governor’s Arts Awards, held at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Phoenix—an event presented by Arizona Citizens for the Arts, the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the Office of the Governor.

I spoke with a Valley artist attending the event that evening, who felt it a bit odd to be celebrating Arizona arts with the governor at a time when so many sectors of our community—including education, health care and the arts—feel ravaged by state budget cuts.

Still, it’s important to recognize the achievements of Valley artists and arts supporters. Now, more than ever, their work matters. I was especially proud that my 16-year old daughter Lizabeth was there, performing with Greasepaint Youtheatre.

She had strict orders to bring me a program and note names of the 2010 winners so I could pass the info along to you.

Dean Osborne performs at the Grand Canyon Music Festival

Here’s the happy news:

• Composer James DeMars of Tempe, a three-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, received the Artist Award

• Preservationist Elisabeth Ruffner of Prescott, received the Individual Award

• Arts advocate Shirley Chann of Tucson, received the Shelley Arts Advocate Award

• The Grand Canyon Music Festival received the Education Award

Bank of America received the Business Award

The Drawing Studio in Tucson received the Community Award

Art for Kids Project at Webb Center

If you know of a deserving volunteer, artist, advocate, arts organization or business, there are plenty of other awards out there. Consider nominating/voting for the artists and arts lovers in your life if they’re eligible for the following…

• Arizona Central’s “Best” Poll. Vote on nominees online before tomorrow’s (April 28) deadline. Categories include art gallery, annual arts festival/event, regional arts center, theater company, live theater venue, museum, musical festival/event and more.

AriZoni Theatre Awards of Excellence. Nominations for two awards are being accepted through August 15, 2010. The “Outstanding Contribution Award” honors someone within the theater community and the “Distinguished Service Award” honors an individual, corporation or organization outside the theater community.

• Business in the Arts Awards. Nominations now being accepted for awards to be presented at the August 18, 2010 “New Artitude” event presented by Wells Fargo. Categories include large business partner, mid-size business partner, small business partner, arts organization, arts advocate, arts board member and special business volunteer.

Detour Company Theatre

Two other nifty bits of news in the arts award department…

Arizona Theatre Company’s own Latino Playwriting Award-Winner, “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” by Kristoffer Diaz, was honored as a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. (The Pulitzer was awarded to “Next to Normal” by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey—which will tour, beginning in November, with stops in Los Angeles and San Diego).

• Eight’s Third Annual Be More Awards™ will be announced at a May 20, 2010 luncheon and awards ceremony at Eight’s downtown Phoenix studios. Nominated arts organizations include the Del E. Webb Center for the Performing Arts, Rosie’s House and Valley Youth Theatre (for the “Be More Creative” award recognizing achievement in arts and culture) and Detour Company Theatre (for the “Be More Encouraged” judges’ choice award).

Rosie's House Music Academy

As always, I welcome your input if there are additional resources not included here. Please let me know of other award opportunities in the comment section below so our readers will have even more ways to recognize the artists, advocates and other arts leaders in our communities. There’s only one rule around here: Be nice.

–Lynn

NEW FEATURE! Watch for “Today’s Tidbits” at the end of Monday-Thursday posts so you’ll know of arts experiences you can enjoy during the week with your family or friends. Look for weekend arts events in Friday “Stage Mom” posts. More arts and other family-friendly activities are available every day at Raising Arizona Kids’ online calendar thanks to our amazing calendar editor Mala Blomquist.

Today’s Tidbits: ASU Theatre and Film presents their “5th Annual Student Film Fest” featuring both showcase and competitive formats at 7:30pm at Harkins Valley Art Theatre in Tempe (info at 480-965-6447 or www.theatrefilm.asu.edu) • Chandler-Gilbert Community College presents a free CGCC Community Choir and Orchestra Concert at 7pm (info at 480-732-7343) • Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe presents local author Tom Leveen with his debut teen novel “Party” at 7pm (info at www.changinghands.com) • Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts presents “Talk Cinema: Sneak Preview #7” featuring a film that “depicts the aspirations of all immigrants and the fulfillment of the American dream” followed by a moderated conversation with experts (tickets are $20; info at www.scottsdaleperformingarts.org). If you have a visual or performing arts event to share, please drop me a line at rakstagemom@gmail.com. Calendar items can be submitted online.

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Young Sounds of Arizona

Ever wonder how a high school student who plays a musical instrument transitions to playing in the college setting and/or playing professionally? For some, it comes through training and performance opportunities afforded by professional musicians sharing their skills and support.

Young Sounds of Arizona was established in 1971 by Professional Musicians of Arizona, local 586, of the American Federation of Musicians “to provide further training, performance opportunities and artistic growth” for young Valley musicians. The program serves youth ages 13-19, according to musical director Barb Catlin.

Young Sounds includes two big bands and one jazz combo. Middle and high school students are selected through an audition process. Once accepted, they enjoy “weekly professional instruction and music clinics with masters of the genre.”

The young musicians “learn about music as a profession from professional musicians.” Catlin, who’s served as musical director of Young Sounds for eight years, proudly shares that the group is “the first and oldest of its kind.”

Why jazz, I wondered as we spoke. At the time Young Sounds formed, says Catlin, there were no similar training and performance opportunities for young people within this genre. Today, she says, “they are a fantastic nationally recognized group of young musicians who represent Arizona at the highest level.”

As much as my children enjoyed hearing the Phoenix Symphony perform when they were young (we often attended their family-friendly selections), I don’t think anything ever replaces the excitement a child or teen feels when they hear a peer playing an instrument—especially when they play with real skill and genuine sensitivity.

Young Sounds will perform at one of my favorite Valley venues—the ASU Kerr Cultural Center in Scottsdale—both this month and next. They perform at Kerr at 3pm on Feb. 21st and at 10am on March 18th (I’m told tickets are very reasonably priced).

My children have performed many a piano recital there, so we know firsthand of its warm and welcoming nature. It’s a small space that feels both casual and elegant—with seating that allows the audience to see and hear the music up close.

Young Sounds alumni will perform at Symphony Hall in Phoenix on April 29th at 7:30pm. Catlin expects that about 20 to 30 musicians, some local but many from other parts of the country, will form the special jazz combo that performs that evening. The concert will feature works commissioned for Young Sounds through the years.

Catlin notes that auditions for the upcoming season will likely occur in June (the dates are yet to be determined). I asked about trends she’s seen over the course of her time with Young Sounds. Sadly, she notes that fewer and fewer young musicians are auditioning as arts funding for music education at the elementary school level continues to decline.

It got me wondering (and worried). If kids don’t get involved in music during elementary school, where will our middle and high school students develop an interest in music? If our graduates aren’t playing music, how will college and conservatory programs continue to thrive?

And in the absence of robust higher education opportunities in music, can we really expect to continue enjoying an abundance of high quality musical performances in our communities? It’s a “trickle up” effect—and it’s not good.

So what’s the answer? Make time to attend live music events with your family—not just the concerts of the latest teen sensations, but the concerts featuring teens from our own towns.

Check with your local schools, community colleges and universities for opportunities to see and hear student musicians, and faculty members, perform.

Sign up for e-alerts from organizations featuring young musical performers (Phoenix Youth Symphony, Metropolitan Youth Symphony, Phoenix Girls Chorus, Phoenix Boys Chorus, Phoenix Children’s Chorus and such), so you’ll be the first to learn about upcoming concerts and special events.

Take your kids to hear grown-up musicians—Symphony of the Southwest–as well as many others, too. You can bet they won’t like it if they never try it.

When you consider after-school activities, think not only of athletics, but also of the arts. There’s no reason your child can’t play a mean sax and a mean game of soccer!

“Young musicians deserve our support,” says Catlin. “They’re not just great on their instruments. They’re amazing human beings.” Catlin describes the 40 youth of Young Sounds as “fun, helpful, kind, humble and hard working.”

As a mom whose three children spent many years involved in music, I can attest to the power of musical training and performance to enhance those ever so important life skills like discipline and persistence.

Tomorrow’s post will feature a personal perspective on Young Sounds by a relatively new member, who’ll share some of the challenges and joys she’s experiencing as a young musician.

Stay tuned…

–Lynn

Coming up: The making of a MIM–the Musical Instrument Museum opening in Phoenix on April 24th

Spotlight on youth symphonies

I’m not sure how or why the violin entered our lives. Lizabeth was just five or so years old, and we heard somewhere about a place called Arcadia Music Academy in Phoenix, which has several music teachers who offer private lessons.

By that time, she’d already been to numerous concerts presented by The Phoenix Symphony (which has a tremendous family series each season) and the Scottsdale Symphony Orchestra (we used to love spending 4th of July holidays at their concerts on the lawn at the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall).

It may have been a young classmate who played violin (his mom is a cellist with The Phoenix Symphony) who first inspired Lizabeth to try the instrument. Or maybe the times we’d taken her to an “instrument petting zoo” before a Phoenix Symphony concert—a free event sometimes held before certain shows, where musicians staggered throughout the lobby help young people try different instruments.

Lizabeth enjoyed trying strings—violin and cello. Her big sister, Jennifer, was more drawn to the brass—tuba and trumpet (she went on to play flute for many years though her school at the time had no orchestra). I played clarinet as a child but never did the youth orchestra thing. (I was more of the grab a guitar and write your own songs kind of a gal. Mercifully, perhaps, none of them have survived.)

Lizabeth might have auditioned for one of our local youth symphonies had she not been busy several nights each week with ballet classes that took up most of her evening. By the time Lizabeth was accomplished enough to join the highest level of orchestra in high school, she’d fallen in love with theater and learned, as we all do, that we can’t always have or do it all.

Letting go of violin was hard, but none of us ever regretted the investment of time and money that went into lessons and daily practice. The daily part is important, says music educator, writer, lyricist and composer Charlotte Brooks of Theatre Artists Studio in Scottsdale, because there’s just no way to be good at something without working at it. We do a disservice to our kids when we lead them to believe competence can be culled from desire alone, devoid of dedication and determination.

I’m grateful in some ways that Lizabeth had the opportunity to face a choice like this during her teens. We face these choices often as adults, and I’m always pleased when my kids get a chance to practice life skills like problem solving and assessing their values before flying from the nest. (They will fly one day, right?)

Jennifer’s best friend, for practically a lifetime, spent many years playing strings with the Phoenix Youth Symphony. We used to meet after Saturday lessons in Tempe so the girls could stroll along Mill Avenue enjoying the indie shops, street musicians and other local color (this was back in the day when Changing Hands Bookstore was still on this strip).

Though one is now at ASU and another at U of A, Jennifer and Brenna still love their together time in Tempe. Brenna no longer plays with the Phoenix Youth Symphony now that she’s in college, but we have many fine memories of attending concerts and seeing both Brenna and her brother Ian play. They both have oodles of raw talent and became truly exceptional through painstaking practice, lessons and playing with fellow musicians. (Having creative, devoted parents didn’t hurt…)

I don’t know that either will pursue a career in music, but their time with music has been meaningful nonetheless—so much so that I’ve invited Brenna to write a guest blog sharing her experiences with the Phoenix Youth Symphony (look for that tomorrow). Brenna and Jennifer have written for the magazine before—sometimes when limited space has prevented printing their work—and I always enjoy reading their perspectives.

The Phoenix Youth Symphony is comprised of four orchestras—the string orchestra, the symphonic winds, the symphonette orchestra and the youth symphony (the highest level)—along with a percussion ensemble. Members are selected through an audition process, which next takes place in Phoenix during April and May of 2010.

Selected musicians are expected to attend Wednesday evening rehearsals as well as other training opportunities, and should be members of their school band or orchestra if one is available. Additional prerequisites and requirements are detailed on the PYS website—as is other useful information, including links to various youth symphonies, summer camps, festivals, conservatories and competitions

The symphony’s performance schedule is also posted online, and includes a “Side-by-Side Concert” with The Phoenix Symphony on Sunday, Feb. 7th at 3 pm at Phoenix Symphony Hall. Tickets are free (open seating) and available at the concert (the lobby opens at 1 pm). This concert is an especially exciting introduction to orchestral music for children who are often most enraptured by performers close to them in age.

We’re fortunate to have more than one youth symphony in the Valley. The Metropolitan Youth Symphony has more than 300 members who rehearse with their groups weekly and perform at least four formal concerts per year. The MYS includes three string orchestras and one full symphonic orchestra.

It also features a fiddler’s group that left me awestruck when I first heard them perform at a community event many years ago. They weren’t just good, they were “whip out your checkbook and support these kids” good! (Never fear, Phoenix Youth Symphony, I’ve been inspired on more than one occasion to donate to you as well.)

Upcoming Metropolitan Youth Symphony performances are scheduled for Feb. 24th and April 27th (both at 7 pm) at the Mesa Arts Center (have I mentioned lately that their snack bar is far and away our favorite among performing arts venues?). This is such a kid-friendly venue—with plenty of space on the surrounding plaza for walking off the wiggles.

If you assume your child could never enjoy classical music, or fear perhaps that you’d be bored by it yourself, I have a resounding chorus of “I told you so” at the ready. Once you and your child experience other youth playing their hearts out—with remarkable finesse—you might just get hooked. I can think of worse habits…

–Lynn

Note: Read Brenna’s Wednesday post on her experiences with the Phoenix Youth Symphony for a glimpse into how music training and performance opportunities enrich the lives of  youth.