Inspiring Story of Anaheim's First Children's Orchestral Program in 30 Years

Categories: classical

Photo by Brian Brooks for Anaheim City School District
In times of economic hardship, it is a given that school arts programs are the first to get the shaft. Naturally, the three R's are paramount, and, typically, sporting events are shown greater respect due to the social customs that accompany their practice; however, it is tragic that the arts, which offer the greatest contributions to humanity and the enrichment of culture, can be so dishonored that when a small battle is won to bring back what should already exist, the key players are nothing less than saints.

Anaheim City School District (ACSD) is the sixth largest elementary school district in California. Its 24 schools provide education for over 19,300 students; 74% of those students speak Spanish in their homes, and 85% of them qualify for free or reduced rate lunches. According to Dorothy Rose, the executive director of Orange County Symphony (OCS), there had not been an instrumental music program in the district for somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 years. Evidently, this was not to her satisfaction.

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Mike Garson's New Symphony Literally Heals Mind, Body and Soul

Categories: classical

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A screen drops from the rafters, obscuring a section of the concert hall stage in the midst of a 44-piece orchestra and 50-member children's choir. As the musicians play the opening strains of an Argentine tango, two ballroom dancers appear in silhouette, moving gracefully behind the screen as the music swirls around them. The song ends, the screen slides away, and a septuagenarian couple, Bob and Nancy Dufault, are revealed as the dancers. Nancy, afflicted with Parkinson's disease, has trouble moving without a walker and is often confined to a wheelchair. But while the music plays, she can dance. While the music plays, she is healed.

The Argentine tango is just one of 12 movements in the "Symphonic Suite for Healing," a music therapy project that will premiere Saturday, March 1st, at the Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa. Composed by former David Bowie pianist and rock star emeritus Mike Garson, each of the movements in the symphony was selected for the beneficial effect it produces in patients with brain-based illnesses. The Foundation for Neurosciences, Stroke and Recovery (FNSR) is sponsoring the concert with the Philharmonic Society of Orange County.


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Ottmar Liebert: A Flamenco Guitarist Who'd Rather Listen to Horns

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Matt Callahan
Ottmar Liebert is one of the most popular flamenco-style guitarists, yet he doesn't like to place himself in that genre. Instead, Liebert infuses flamenco techniques with his own style that borrows from non-stringed instruments and genres you'd never imagine he'd listen to. The Grammy-nominated and platinum-selling musician relies on touring and record sales to make a living, which would seem to have given him a practical, unromantic outlook on the art form, but it's actually become his guide for how he interprets the world and finds his way through it.

He plays with his trio at the Coach House on Thursday, and even if you're not into flamenco or its fusions, he shares some sound advice for aspiring musicians in all genres.More »

Broadway Singer Susan Egan Talks About the OC High School of the Arts and Growing Up in Seal Beach

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Olivier Ciappa
When I hear the term "Broadway," I think of lots of things, but mostly I think of New York City, bright lights, people wearing pea coats, taxis and how bummed I am that I never got a chance to see those failed "Spider-Man" previews. However, thanks to Saturday's Long Beach Symphony POPS! concert, I can now add "Seal Beach" to that list as Susan Egan, a Seal Beach native and current Orange County resident, is one of three singers featured at the event.

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Long Beach Symphony Orchestra's Enrique Arturo Diemecke Explains the Musical Joke

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www.ThomasMcConville.com

Two things pop into my head when I hear the term "musical joke." One is something along the lines of Tenacious D or those classic Adam Sandler Saturday Night Live sketches. You know--stuff that's meant to be funny.

The other is a lot less positive and brings to mind the word "trainwreck." We've all heard/seen this sort of musical joke, usually in the form of a teenage garage band playing a show three weeks after buying instruments, our crazy uncles thinking they are on stage at the Staples Center when in fact they are botching a Bob Dylan tune on their couches or Madonna.


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Hollywood Bowl Opening Night Friday Night

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Hollywood Bowl Opening Night with Harry Connick, Jr., and Gloria Estefan
June 17, 2011
Hollywood Bowl


The Hollywood Bowl opened its 90th season Friday night with its Hall of Fame concert featuring the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Youth Orchestra LA, Cirque du Soilel performers and sets by HOF inductees Harry Connick, Jr., and Gloria Estefan. That might sound like a lot of entertainment for one night, but the Bowl operates in such a smooth manner that the evening moved quickly without feeling rushed.

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Last Saturday: Long Beach Symphony Orchestra

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Two reasons brought me to the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra on Saturday night. First, I'm always on the prowl for something new, and to me, the symphony is definitely something new. The second reason was because I had been locked down by the flu for two weeks and I had enough of staying in bed watching Law & Order.

As an absolute symphony virgin, you'll have to accept my apology for some of the dumb things I'm about to say.

To summarize, the LBSO's performance was amazing. The orchestra ran through Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 in C major, Kopetzki's Concerto for Marimba and String Orchestra and Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, "Eroica."

What first blew my mind was the precision layering of instrumentation during the first movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 in C major. As a recovering rock musician, I'm used to hearing songs with a constant percussion to keep time. But not Beethoven. And not the LBSO. Conductor Enrique Arturo Diemecke had that large group bopping and weaving as tightly as any rhythm section I've ever heard. Plus, his arms moving around made me think he was really into it. Showmanship at the symphony? Whoduthunk? Not me, that's for sure.

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Eight Questions with Rick Berry

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Rick Berry's a lot of things. Some of these things include jazz trumpeter (currently in the Hollywood Canteen Swing Band), political candidate (he ran for Long Beach city council) and gardener (he's got a killer backyard garden). But to the rest of the world, he's got a new title that is pretty darn spiffy--marketing manager for the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra.

If you're like me, you're wondering why a jazzman is getting in bed with classical music. I just had to ask.

1. Tell the people a little bit about yourself.

I was born in Washington, DC, but my family moved to Long Beach in 1962 when I was just a baby. I've been in Long Beach my whole life, living in Alamitos Heights, the Peninsula, Belmont Shore and now downtown. I have an Electrical Engineering degree from CSULB, an MBA from Pepperdine, and a certificate in Nonprofit Arts Management from CSULB. Most of my career has been marketing electronic components for local manufacturers.

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Pacific Symphony Offering 50% Off Tickets

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Courtesy of Pacific Symphony
Who doesn't love a good sale--especially in these dreary economic times? Here's one: the Pacific Symphony is celebrating its upcoming season--their 20th year with musical director/conductor Carl St.Clair, pictured--with a chance to score some half-price tickets.

This Sunday and Monday only (August 30 and 31), head to the Pacific Symphony website, for a 50% discount on each single ticket bought online. The sale ends 11:50 p.m. Monday, August 31st.

The next event on Pacific Symphony's calendar is the "Tchaikovsky Spectacular - Music for the Cure" at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine on September 12. Following that is three nights of "Midori Plays Tchaikovsky" from September 24-26 at Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. This season's pops series kicks off with Patty LuPone at Segerstrom Concert Hall, October 8-10.

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