Famed maestro Gustavo Dudamel, who grew up in an impoverished Venezuelan neighborhood, believes that music saved him.
The classical music star who has performed at the Super Bowl and now leads the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra was featured on CBS Sunday Morning this past week, where he said, “The power of transformation that music has in the life of children — it’s unique.”
He went on to explain that he was blessed by El Sistema, a profound social program that takes kids off the streets and away from crime and drugs and despair by introducing them to music. Dudamel declared that when disadvantaged children who are excluded from society are given a musical instrument, “that is something sublime.” Dudamel now views himself as an ambassador of the sublime, participating in programs throughout the United States which utilize the power of the arts to heal and inspire youngsters.
Likewise, local educator William Combs, the motivating force behind the founding of Darke County Center of the Arts’ Arts In Education Series who grew up in a poverty-stricken community in Kentucky, often stated that music had saved him. The late school administrator believed that the arts are fundamental to education, and to life. DCCA has completed its A.I.E. presentations for this school year, once again taking professional artists to perform for students in all grades of every local public school.
Teachers and administrators throughout our community have enthusiastically embraced DCCA’s offerings, and the happy results can be witnessed at each and every performance where students respond with delight, wonder, and joy to the wide array of artistic endeavors presented.
The incredibly talented fiddling, step-dancing Fitzgerald family opened DCCA’s AIE season September 17 through September 20, introducing area high school students to Canadian culture and music. The Fitzgeralds’ ease with a variety of instruments and musical genres reinforced the concept that music is simply a component of human life, as well as the fact that, for The Fitzgeralds, the ability to share the joy and power of music is a calling. This performance energized and entertained, warmly embracing all assembled who became part of something truly special.
From September 30 through October 4, Toronto-based DuffleBag Theatre celebrated the wonder of creative story telling, earning squeals of laughter and howls of delight from kindergarten through third grade students who were entranced, inspired, and excited to experience live theatre. DuffleBag Theatre’s version of Peter Pan featured characters played by actors pulled from the audience, most of whom relished their opportunity to shine in front of their peers. Theatre reaches across cultures to express emotions as well as ideas, bringing people together in a shared experience that reverberates long after the show ends.
Junior High students assembled at historic Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall on December 12 and 13 to experience the amazing talents of a cappella supergroup VoicePlay, whose fully orchestrated sound is achieved using only the voices of five fearless artists who are are obviously doing what they love. The singers dropped subtle motivational tidbits throughout their show, touting the value of teamwork, demonstrating that by helping each other, individuals can achieve success—or face failure—together, providing students with motivation to think outside the box to achieve personal goals.
Guitar master Jim McCutcheon closed DCCA’s A.I.E. season January 6 through 10, skillfully blending his two loves in “The Guitarman Does Science” to musically explain how and why science works. Jim’s sense of amazement at the wonders of science was transmitted to his enthusiastic audience of fourth-through sixth-graders, earning reviews of “Awesome!” and “Amazing!” from the youngsters as he created a memorable culturally enriching experience that encouraged them to gain greater understanding of the world by looking at things differently.
Maestro Dudamel believes that the arts must be part of the fundamental education of children, that to have art as part of life is essential to society. One of the students appearing on that CBS Sunday Morning segment said, “Without music, the world would be boring.” Bill Combs would agree with those sentiments; our community benefits greatly from his belief in those essential truths.