Not too many kids can return to school on Monday morning bragging about how they played the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip last Saturday, April 20th. But the kids who took part in the Action for the Arts “Onstage” concert can do just that.
Youth ranging in age from elementary through high school had the unique opportunity to perform on the big stage complete with professional stage lighting, formal introductions, and a sound man, all made possible in part by the International House of Blues Foundation’s Action for the Arts Initiative who provided most of the instruments (as well as cash grants) to make this great day possible.
As part of the USC Thornton Outreach Program, the Foshay Middle School Rockers took the stage to start the day with a killer piece titled “Killer Joe” by Benny Golson, and quickly turned things up a notch with their rendition of Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water”.
Next up, and also part of the Thornton Outreach Program, was the Los Angeles Youth Jazz Ensemble who with a bank full of horns, brought a huge sound to fill the room with a couple of jazz tunes that fit this varied bill quite nicely.
And USC Thornton Outreach didn’t stop there as the next group to the stage was its 32nd Street & Murchison Elementary Guitar group which consisted of a long row of guitars and a long row of smiles. These young up & comers nailed a two song set complete with vocals which was moving enough to incite goose bumps and make you want to run out and pick up the nearest 6 string for a day-long sing in the sun.
During a quick break in the action, USC Thornton School of Music Outreach Programs Director Susan Helfter had just made the comment that one of the program’s main goals is to offer variety in every discipline at every level, and the next band to take the stage did just that. We moved from a stage full of acoustic guitars and elementary students to the Reseda High School Rock Combo. Reseda High gracefully made their way through a couple of classic rock tunes by Cream and Paul McCartney.
And to close out the day, Willowbrook Middle School Concert Band brought traditional instrumentation to contemporary sounds as they covered everything from Adele, to Kool & the Gang and Snoop Dogg, which had audience members moving in their seats. What a great way to engage youth musicians in the learning process of music.
A sign high above the House of Blues stage read, “Unity in Diversity. All are One”. And today we definitely met that pledge.
To learn more about the USC Thornton School of Music Outreach Program, including upcoming events, and how you can be involved, please visit: http://www.usc.edu/schools/music/about/signature/outreach/.