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Kids Around the Bay

August 4, 2011


New Jazz All-Stars Auditions in Davis

Too much of a good thing is not quite enough when it comes to jazz education. SFJAZZ and the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts at UC Davis will expand learning opportunities for kids living in the Sacramento region by forming a new jazz collective based on the current high school all-star group in San Francisco. Eight talented kids will have the chance to learn side-by-side high profile members of the SFJAZZ Collective and through clinics, in keeping with the tradition of learning jazz on the bandstand. Said Rebeca Mauleón, Director of Education for SFJAZZ: “This program gives music students highly visible opportunities to play at festivals and competitions around the country. Two members of last year’s ensemble were invited to play with Esperanza Spalding at the Grammys, and many of last year’s participants have received scholarships to notable universities and conservatories around the country.”

Mike McMullen, a jazz studies faculty member at California State University, Sacramento, heads up the new ensemble, called the Mondavi Center SFJAZZ High School All-Stars. McMullen is also the founding member of the Sacramento region's premier jazz group, the Capital Jazz Project. Applications are due Aug. 15.  See the Web site for requirements and details.

The ensemble will prepare a performance at the Mondavi Center on March 29, 2012 opening for the SFJAZZ Collective.

Young Artists Shining at Menlo

There aren’t too many moments to relax in such an intense program as the Chamber Music Institute’s Young Performers at [email protected], but after a successful concert, such as the one on July 30, there is certainly time to congratulate friends and enjoy the sunshine. Free Koret Concerts on Saturdays are reserved especially for these young artists, ages 8-18, to show what they’ve learned at this prestigious festival. Cellist Johannes Gray (pictured, center) has something to smile about: He has just performed an almost flawless rendition of Haydn's flashy Passacaglia for Violin and Cello, with his equally virtuosic partner, local violinist Christy Chen — by memory, that is. Gray is returning to the institute for a second summer. Based outside of Chicago, he will perform a solo with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra this season.

Brothers Nicholas and Jonathan Swensen are in Palo Alto from Denmark. Cellist Jonathan (right) and his trio gave the audience a serious interpretation of the Shostokovich Piano Trio 2 in E Minor, Op. 67. His younger brother and mother (part of a requirement at Menlo that adults accompany the young artists) are along for the ride.

It’s somewhat eerie, the mature sounds that emanate from these prodigies. Clearly they are operating in an adult arena, projecting a musical depth and understanding that seems far beyond their years. Reserve your free ticket to hear them play gems of the chamber music repertoire, Aug. 6 and 13, 1 p.m. at the Menlo School in Palo Alto.

Back to School, Back to Music

Many of us are returning from summer vacations and getting organized for the school year ahead. If your child needs a new challenge or can’t get what they’d like in their school music program, don’t hesitate to inform yourself about the area’s many youth ensembles, listed in our directory here. Some youth orchestras take students as young as age 7, and some of them, like the Golden Gate Philharmonic in San Francisco, offer small ensemble opportunities in addition to the full orchestral experience.

Choirs are also graduated, with groups for every age and level of ability. Jazz and world music classes are often offered at local music stores or community music schools such as the Community Music Center in San Francisco, or the Crowden Music Center in Berkeley. Schools like San Francisco’s Blue Bear School of Music train the rock musicians of tomorrow, and of course there are programs for tots like Music Together, or Kindermusik at locations near you. Older, more serious musicians will vie for a spot in a prestigious ensemble like the San Francisco Youth Symphony Orchestra or one of the Berkeley Jazz School’s evening lab bands. Ensembles are holding audition in the month of August so do your research now, and organize a fun musical fall!

Lisa Petrie is a writer and specialist in marketing and public relations for arts and education organizations. She earned a DMA in flute performance from SUNY, Stony Brook, and is the mother of two musical kids. Lisa was the Content Manager for the Kids and Families section of San Francisco Classical Voice during 2011.