Have you ever been so moved by a school’s program that you just had to share it with the world?
I recently completed a 10-day engagement in Chicago working with the fine students at Roosevelt University culminating in a performance with the Chicago College of Performing Arts Orchestra in Orchestra Hall. I was there to conduct, teach and make music with the students, which they did with great success. What a joy to work with the young baritone Reuben Lillie and perform the Chicago premier of the orchestral version of Vaughan Williams Songs of Travel, along with Debussy La Mer. I am always reminded of the virtuosity of any orchestra that can triumph as this orchestra did in Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to An Orchestra.
While I found the energy of the urban environment exhilarating, it was the implementation of the school’s mission that struck me as most compelling of all.
“An urban, independent university committed to student success, academic quality, and social justice”.
During the 21st century American Orchestras have focused their community engagement efforts through expanded outreach programs. Roosevelt University is living its mission by achieving true community engagement with programs designed to provide opportunities for its students to make memorable differences in the lives of people within their own community.
Through Henry Fogel, Dean of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, I learned about several University programs offered to music students interested in gaining a worthy education through meaningful actions. I find three of these programs particularly inspiring.
Music in Action is a healing arts program dedicated to bringing music into healthcare facilities. Through chamber group performances students share their gifts lifting the spirits of others and demonstrating the power and beauty of music.
This program was started by alumni cellist, Allegra Montanari, and her colleagues from CCPA who wanted to make a difference in the lives of cancer patients, and others in hospitals throughout Chicago. The program has been immensely successful bringing happy moments to many, helping patients and their families to manage through the difficulties they face, breaking the monotony of treatments and medications, and also bringing cheer to the hospital staff.
Having volunteered in hospitals as a teenager I know how much joy it would bring to healthcare environment, let alone the benefits to the health from having one’s spirits uplifted by music. Their next event will be an interactive performance at LaRabida Children’s Hospital on November 27th 2012.
Follow this wonderful program on Facebook HERE.
Hands Together, Heart to Art is a summer program designed for Chicago children living in underserved areas who have experienced the death of a parent due to illness or violence. It is the only camp of its kind. Visit the website HERE.
Thirdly is a Community Engagement program with Benito Juarez High School which focuses on creative student teaching for Music Education majors. Learn more HERE.
Each program creatively gives students the opportunity to perform beyond the practice rooms and concert hall bringing together the creative spirits of those who need to give and those who are hungry for the gifts music can offer. I can only believe the music I made with the students will ultimately extend beyond Orchestra Hall through Roosevelt University’s fine initiatives dedicated to getting to the heart of the matter through the arts, education and service.
Thank you, Roosevelt University, for leading the way for young musicians to embrace their communities!