This time last year, conductor Jessica Bejarano was coming off the success of the debut concert for the orchestra she founded, the San Francisco Philharmonic. While large ensembles haven’t had much of a chance to perform since then, Bejarano is keeping up the orchestral collaboration.
This week, the conductor is partnering with L.A.’s American Youth Symphony. It’s a return appearance of sorts: Bejarano was the first woman to conduct the ensemble, in 2019. This Friday’s concert, a free family event that has Bejarano teaching a short conducting lesson and AYS musicians playing a selection of solo and duet repertoire, isn’t back in the concert hall yet. But online, it’s still bringing people together.
The music from Bejarano and AYS is one half of a larger event, hosted by A Place Called Home, a community organization serving South Central L.A. APCH screens a film following the concert; this week, it’s the 2016 animated movie Sing. It’s all part of a regular series, Family Film Fridays, that, for the first time, AYS is playing the pre-show for, along with APCH’s own Youth Strings Ensemble.
Bejarano, who grew up in L.A. and has made a point of giving back to the community in music, says: “It’s incredibly important to bring free classical music to families to aid in enriching and fulfilling their lives. I also find it incredibly important and notable that AYS is not only bringing music to APCH families but also demonstrating how to be a leader through the conducting lesson that I will be teaching. It gives our youth a different lens through which to experience music and the world.”
The music and movie night streams for free on Zoom. The concert starts at 6:15 p.m. PT, and the film starts at 7. For more information, and the Zoom details, visit AYS’s website.