Midwest Young Artists Citizen Musicians

Sunday was a wonderful day of both practice and performance.  Allan coached chamber music and was at Ravinia for orchestra string sectionals all day.  I headed downtown to take in the First Annual Voices of the Future - Coming Together concert at Harris Theater of Music and Dance.   This performance may not have been as well publicized as CSO's rollout of a Citizen Musician initiative over the weekend, but it was a good example of the concept. 
Gary Fry's friend, Ira Antelis, asked MYA’s Voices Rising and 7 other choirs from across the Chicago area to raise their voices together in a concert to benefit the Ronald McDonald House.  What a great experience to see and hear so many different choirs and songs, from the Loyola Academy Honors Chamber choir on their way to play at the Vatican later this spring, to the Soul Children of Chicago who will sing at the White House in April, the afternoon was inspirational.  After each choir sang 3 songs, they joined together to sing a new song, arranged by Gary Fry, called "The Future's up to Me and You."  The words seem to again relate to the concept of Citizen Musicians: 

We have power to change lives
We can make a difference
We can make change
Imagine all the good we can do
It's up to me and you

CSO’s Citizen Musician initiative was a call to action for professional, amateur and young musicians as well as music lovers, music educator's and music and education organizations to use their talent and passion for music to enhance the quality of life and address issues of concern in their community.  Yo Yo Ma took his cello to the Metra Station where the Chicago Childrens Choir did a flash mob performance.  He also played with other CSO musicians at Childrens Memorial hospital over the weekend.
This is all great news!  A major organization like CSO reaching out with their music and musicians into communities, and using their marketing and publicity departments to draw attention to the work that their own musicians and so many organizations across the Chicago area have been doing for years, will only raise visibility for classical music!

The concept of musicians giving back to the community and sharing their talents is not new to MYA.  Our own organization's mission is to build a home with the power of music to enrich the lives of our students and communities, a mission that was adopted by our board of directors in the summer of 2000 just after we moved into the MYA Center at Fort Sheridan.  Before we moved into our beautiful space, we did all our chamber music recitals in senior centers, nursing homes, schools, libraries, malls and hospitals.  We continue each year to do “Outside the Fort” concerts.  Every time we do this, I think the parents and students say, “let’s do more!”  It’s such a good feeling to play for people who might not otherwise attend classical music performances. 

On my way home, I had one more treat.  I stopped at DePaul University to listen to Christopher Gao play the first two movements of the Elgar Cello Concerto with the Oistrach Symphony Orchestra.  The concert featured winners of the 8th Annual DePaul Concerto Festival for Young Performers.  You will all be able to hear Chris when he soloes with Concert Orchestra on February 19th at Harris Theater!  Only this time, it will be Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme.
I know we have lots of examples of Citizen Musician parents and students right within the MYA community.  Please do not be shy about sharing your Citizen Musician stories.  

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