More than two dozen Palisadian students will perform in a citywide student orchestra comprised of Southern California’s best elementary school musicians at the 21st Annual All Schools Elementary Honor Orchestra Concert in UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall on Saturday, May 4.
The orchestra, recently honored by City Council at Los Angeles City Hall, will perform the concert twice to accommodate ticket demand with shows at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
The event, which celebrates music education in Los Angeles schools, is produced by Children’s Music Workshop, which has provided on-site instrumental music instruction to schools throughout LA for more than 25 years, including all five Palisades complex elementary schools.
Each child in the orchestra is individually selected by his or her school music teacher. Student ages range from 7 to 12, with the average age of an honor orchestra member being just 10 years old.
“This concert is kind of the big culmination of all our work,” Larry Newman, long-time Palisadian composer, music teacher, Children’s Music Workshop founder and conductor of the All Schools Elementary Honor Orchestra, told the Palisadian-Post. “We started this concert 20 years ago for kids who wanted to play more challenging music, who were really practicing and wanted to do more, to inspire them and give them that opportunity.”
Newman, a professional trumpet player who has toured with the Glenn Miller Orchestra and backed artists like Dizzy Gillespie, Jerry Lewis and Cab Calloway, began his career in music education in Los Angeles Unified School District after moving to the Palisades following the 1986 Northridge earthquake.
“We decided if we wanted to live anywhere, we wanted to live in the Palisades,” Newman said.
Working as a traveling instrumental music teacher, Newman taught at Marquez Charter Elementary School and Palisades Charter Elementary School and also taught at Canyon Charter Elementary School, Kenter Canyon Elementary School and Malibu High School, remaining on the booster clubs of the local elementary schools.
“I’ve been at those schools since the late ’80s,” Newman said. “I was there for a while, then they got a district teacher, now I’m back again. It all depends on where people contract me. Burbank, Valencia, the Valley—I’ve been all over.”
Today, Newman brings Children’s Music Workshop band and orchestral music programs to 27 schools across LAUSD. He is also a prolific author, having published over 200 Children’s Music Workshop “Music Fun Books,” available through major retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
“I started out with just one book for the recorder,” Newman said. “Then we did a violin book, then a whole band book. It was all geared toward really young kids. There aren’t a lot of books like that on the market because it’s not profitable for publishers. Most orchestra music is written for grades six and up. There’s not a lot of music written for younger kids, so that’s why I ended up doing it. It’s a lot of fun.”
The music in the May 4 concert includes several original arrangements by Newman.
“A lot of it is thinking of what kind of piece we need, and I just write that,” Newman said.
The concert originally began with only one rehearsal before the performance. Today, the students have a rigorous practice routine with rehearsals every Sunday from January to May.
In their first year, students learn the basics and gradually get more advanced. Before middle school even begins, students in the Elementary Honor Hall Orchestra are able to play advanced pieces.
The orchestra’s annual broadcast performances from Schoenberg Hall have also garnered five Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards in the Children/Youth Programming category.
“The documentary is a lot of fun,” Newman shared. “We try to make the program so if you aren’t a parent or have no connection to the orchestra, you won’t mind sitting through a half-hour show.”
Newman’s career has focused on sparking an early interest in music in children and helping them grow as musicians.
“I was introduced to music basically in my school band program,” Newman said. “My early experiences with music were so important that I wanted for other kids to have that too.”
Some of the other pieces that will be played at the May 4 concert include themes from Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture,” Schubert’s “Rosamunde Overture” and Mozart’s “Magic Flute.”
The concert will also feature a special return performance from Palisades Charter High School senior Ally McCoy, who sang with the orchestra in fourth grade. She will perform Nelson Riddle’s arrangement of “When You Wish Upon A Star.”
“It’ll be fun to have her sing now that she’s going off to college,” Newman said. “It’s always rewarding to hear what students are doing through the grapevine.
“These students are exceptionally talented, and together, make music that inspires not only their parents, but also anyone in Los Angeles who is interested in music, the arts and education.”
For tickets, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit childrensmusicworkshop.com.