Arts for All, Boston Community, Take Your Seat

Mnozil Brass Astonishes Boston Students

Through the Celebrity Series’ Take Your Seat program, Chris Schroeder, the Executive Director of the Josiah Quincy Orchestra Program (JQOP) and quarter-finalist for the 2019 Grammy Music Educator Award brought 30 students and families members from JQOP and the Summer Street Brass Band to the Mnozil Brass: Cirque concert on February 9 at NEC’s Jordan Hall. As a youth orchestra program, the JQOP uses an intensive and unique ensemble-based music curriculum to help Boston Public School children from underserved communities develop musical proficiency, executive functioning, and social-emotional skills necessary to succeed at school and in life. The Summer Street Brass Band draws students from programs similar to JQOP and provides members with performance and teaching opportunities to develop their skills as dynamic performers, educators, entrepreneurial musicians, and compassionate citizens. Even for students who often perform on stage, being in an audience to see some of the world’s leading artists can be an invaluable experience.
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Celebrity Series is grateful to our generous individual donors and to First Republic Bank for their ongoing support for Take Your Seat, which has brought tens of thousands of students and families to Celebrity Series performances since the program’s inception.

In this short interview, Chris Schroeder reflects on the concert and the reaction from his students.


Did you or your students know about Mnozil Brass prior to coming to the performance?

I was very familiar with and fan of Mnozil Brass, however, my families and students did not know what to expect. With the help of the Celebrity Series site and linked videos, they were able to get a sense of the group. But, it wasn’t until the end of the first piece of the concert that they had a clear idea of both the virtuosic playing and entertaining visual experience from all members of Mnozil Brass. During the program, it was fun to see families turn to each other with astonishment and joy on their faces from what they were seeing and hearing from the stage.

Was there a favorite moment from the Mnozil Brass concert?

The favorite moment, hands down (or should I say ‘feet up’) was the encore performance that featured trombonist, Leonhard Paul, as he seemingly levitated on stage playing two trombones and two trumpets with both hands and both feet. Even my four-year-old son was rolling with uncontrollable laughter from his seat. Beyond that moment, it was fun to see my students and my son share in a few laughs after the performance as they recalled this silly (and impressive) moment.

Why is it important to bring students to live performances such as Mnozil Brass?

It is so important for young people to be introduced to live performance early and often. The Take Your Seat program from the Celebrity Series of Boston creates opportunities for young people to experience the music industry’s most recognized performing artists in Boston’s most celebrated performance venues. In a day and age where young people are immersed in electronic, highly produced audio recordings, the thrill of seeing and hearing live musicians is always an inspiring and unforgettable experience. What’s more, the social aspect of attending a live performance with friends and strangers alike is always a special experience. Take Your Seat is able to offer enough tickets for our young people and their families to share in these moments and create lasting memories together.

Some of your students will be performing at the South End Stringfest with the Soul Yatra Trio on March 23. What are some things that the Celebrity Series audience should look forward to in that performance?

Three years ago, I had the pleasure of working with Celebrity Series and the Soul Yatra Trio for our first annual Dorchester Stringfest. The chemistry of Shaw Pong Liu, Sandeep Das, and Mike Block on stage as a trio is palpable. However, when you see them interact with young musicians as peers, putting on a collaborative performance, families and general audiences will understand the true power of music performance and importance of investing in collaboration with youth musicians and professional musicians. In addition to the collaboration, the Soul Yatra Trio produces a soundscape like none other with an interactive element that engages and educates their audiences on the instruments and music they perform.


To RSVP to the South End Stringfest, click here.


To learn more about Chris Schroeder, click here.


SUPPORT FOR ARTS FOR ALL!
Celebrity Series of Boston is grateful to our 2018-19 Season Sponsors Amy & Joshua Boger, and to the many individual donors whose generosity supports our Arts for All! community programs, of which Take Your Seat is a part. We are also grateful to the following corporations, foundations, and government agencies for their support of Arts for All! in the 2018-19 season: the Barr Foundation through its ArtsAmplified Initiative, Boston Cultural Council, The Boston Foundation, Stephanie L. Brown Foundation, Susanne Marcus Collins Foundation, First Republic Bank, Liberty Mutual Foundation, Massachusetts Cultural Council, National Endowment for the Arts, Outside the Box: A Production of the Boston Arts Summer Institute, Bessie Pappas Charitable Foundation, The Peabody Foundation, Stifler Family Foundation, Tufts Health Plan, Anonymous, and other generous supporters.


Photos by Robert Torres.

Mark Morris Dance Group Pepperland
Artist Connections, Arts for All, Boston Community

Dance for PD® at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

On February 4 and 5, the Celebrity Series of Boston brought David Leventhal, the program director and founding teacher of Dance for PD®, a program of the Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG), to the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Urbanity Dance. Dance for PD® offers internationally-acclaimed dance classes for people with Parkinson’s disease that “allow people with Parkinson’s to experience the joys and benefits of dance while creatively addressing symptom-specific concerns related to balance, cognition, motor skill, depression, and physical confidence” (read more about the program here). The workshops were a part of Artist Connections, a program of Celebrity Series’ Arts for All! Community engagement initiative, made possible by the support of our generous donors.

Below, Robin Baker, the Associate Director of Community Engagement at Celebrity Series reflects on the workshop at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.


Several things struck me in David Leventhal’s class at Beth Israel Deaconess on a Monday morning. It was an unusual day for me, since generally, the start of my work week means SITTING, talking, dealing with emails, visiting a neighborhood venue, partner or artist, etc. Instead, I was able to react to a variety of music played by a live pianist and move to it for 90 minutes in creative ways.

Dance and music are naturally symbiotic; we often experience great musical performances that make us want to dance and transport us to a happy memory, place, or era. When learning an instrument, you frequently come across references to dance. One of my flute method books has a tone exercise that reminds you to “hold, hold, hold and keep the spin in your sound moving like a ballerina’s foot extended high in the air exuding energy.” As a classical musician, I’ve learned technical details described by a physical directive. When learning about musical expression, my teachers have asked me to think of an emotion or an image, which is similar to how David led his dance class. During the workshop, David told participants to “imagine your arms are tree branches waving in the breeze” or described paper falling down. The latter conjured up a mental picture of the feather escaping from the Curious George book to the wind in Forrest Gump. David’s descriptions helped guide the movements taught in class.

In the workshop, David led us through a modified version of MMDG’s whole body warmup involving stretching, weight-shifting, and rhythmic accenting. An Argentine tango exercise incorporated foot and heel movements, with graceful arm and “dipping your partner” gestures. Motions simulating a rock, scissors, paper game became a mirroring exercise for dance partners. A sea shanty allowed us to toast our friends with grog and invited them to join us! In Pepperland mode, we danced to “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and made a human wave across the room with gestures indicating our favorite Beatle (or not), which made us all smile. Dancing together we shared a common bond in live performance: like a benediction at church, we ended the class by holding hands in a huge circle, bowing to our neighbor and sang “It’s a Wonderful World” together. David gave us permission to all be artists in a personal way and engage our imaginations and not our limitations. It was one of the most emotionally moving performance classes I can recall being a part of.

A 75-minute panel discussion between the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center staff, Dance for PD® teachers, and participants followed the workshop. During the discussion, a retired audiologist and person living with Parkinson’s expressed her frustration with routine body movements and how dance allowed her to experience those movements again with ease and less anxiety.

Thank you, David Leventhal and the Mark Morris Dance Group for your incredible generosity and humanity.


SUPPORT FOR ARTS FOR ALL!
Celebrity Series of Boston is grateful to our 2018-19 Season Sponsors Amy & Joshua Boger, and to the many individual donors whose generosity supports Arts for All!. Celebrity Series is also grateful to the following corporations, foundations, and government agencies for their support for Arts for All! programs in the 2018-19 season: the Barr Foundation through its ArtsAmplified Initiative, Boston Cultural Council, The Boston Foundation, Stephanie L. Brown Foundation, Susanne Marcus Collins Foundation, First Republic Bank, Liberty Mutual Foundation, Massachusetts Cultural Council, National Endowment for the Arts, Outside the Box: A Production of the Boston Arts Summer Institute, Bessie Pappas Charitable Foundation, The Peabody Foundation, Stifler Family Foundation, Tufts Health Plan, Anonymous, and other generous supporters.


Photos of Mark Morris Dance Group, Pepperland by Robert Torres