By SUE PASCOE Palisadian-Post Contributor
‘If I asked you the question, What do you want to share with the Universe?’….was one part of the thoughts and feelings mixed with music and poetry in two student performances at Paul Revere Middle School on Monday and at Palisades High School on Tuesday. (See Viewpoint, page 2.) In partnership with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, the Paul Revere orchestra, (consisting mostly of eighth graders), the spoken word chorus (consisting of sixth graders), and guest composer and conductor Ed Barguiarena performed ‘Inside/Out,’ a journey of self-discovery, to a packed auditorium. Student driven, the idea was to let young people put into words and music that life as a teenager is about examining feelings, fears and expectations (Inside), and a greater appreciation for the places and spaces they live and occupy (Out). The L.A. Philharmonic Partner Schools program brings into the classroom guests like Barguiarena, a multimedia artist and musician who has won numerous awards and grants from the NEA, the Ford Foundation, the ASCAP Foundation and the Walt Disney Foundation, among others. He recently returned from Botswana and is producing a CD of virtual-collaborations between traditional Tswana and U.S. musicians. Barguiarena spent one day a week for the last 10 weeks working with students at Paul Revere on the composing process. (He also spent one day a week at PaliHi.) Poet Tchise Aje, a recipient of the Brody Literature Award, helped create the text based on a questionnaire given to all the student participants, who reflected on nature, art, conflict, the future and dreams. On the day of the performance, professional violinist Julie Rogers, bass player Bart Samolis and pianist Alan Steinberger joined the student musicians at Paul Revere. Barguiarena feels it’s important for schools to have creative professionals work with students because they get to share new music and new methods of working. He added, ‘The students at Paul Revere perform at a really high level, but this helps them to learn the techniques of the rehearsal process and the vision of a composer. It pushes the boundaries just a bit.’ The Revere orchestra teacher is Lara Jacques, and the chorus director is Vanessa Ling. Gretchen Nielsen, senior manager for education at the L.A. Philharmonic, said the Partner Schools program was started to help integrate the arts in all areas of the classroom. Paul Revere was only one of two middle schools chosen to participate in the three-year program. One reason Philharmonic officials were especially impressed with Revere came during the school site interview, when at least 30 teachers, none associated with the music department, came to request the program. In addition to bringing a composer into the classroom, the Partner Schools program brings in Philharmonic musicians for one-day workshops. This week, for example, a teacher workshop at Revere utilized the music of Steve Reich to help teachers open up to creative ways music can be used in the classroom. The program also reaches out to parents by providing a musical workshop, with the goal of helping parents realize how the study of music can translate into areas like focus and discipline. Revere students have also been able to visit Disney Hall. Earlier this year, one group listened to the Philharmonic rehearse; another group will go for a multimedia premiere of Beethoven’s Fifth. After watching Monday’s concert at Revere, my answer to the students’ question, ‘What do you want to share with the Universe?’ would be that the music from this partnership was glorious and resonated with the soul.
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