It’s in the bag: The Brown Bag Bash presented by Music in the Mountains to benefit Hospitality House and the Young Composer program in Grass Valley |

It’s in the bag: The Brown Bag Bash presented by Music in the Mountains to benefit Hospitality House and the Young Composer program in Grass Valley

Music In the Mountains Education Coordinator Mark Vance poses with members of the Young Composers project.
Submitted photo to Prospector |


WHAT: Music in the Mountains Alliance presents The Brown Bag Bash – A benefit to support Hospitality House & Music in the Mountains Young Composers

WHEN: 5:30 – 9:30 p.m. Friday.

WHERE: The Foothills Event Center, 400 Idaho Maryland Road, Grass Valley.

TICKETS & INFO: Sold Out, but those wishing to be placed on a waiting list can call 530-265-6124.

It’s a comforting thing for one person to hear from another, “Don’t worry. We’ve got this one in the bag!”

Perhaps exemplifying this sentiment, this Friday the Music in the Mountains Alliance will present The Brown Bag Bash fundraiser which will benefit both the Hospitality House and the Music in the Mountains Young Composers Project.

A double-the-fun fundraiser, event coordinator Patricia Montijo said, “This event, created by the MIMA team, is our way of reaching out to the greater community in an evening of fun all while supporting both organizations.”

Music in the Mountains Young Composers is an education outreach with innovative and involved curriculum; participants are musicians — ranging in ages from 12 to 22 — who participate in an intensive musical study with the purpose of developing their composition and musical skill set.

Helping hands

Although centered around music, the program offers its participants a wealth of exposure to everything from writing resumes to critical thinking, all while preparing for their future success.

Meanwhile, the Hospitality House (aka Utah’s Place) is a nonprofit community shelter in Grass Valley which assists those who have been displaced.

Hospitality House is a no tolerance refuge that is devoted to ending homelessness while providing assistive services to all its guests. They seek to empower the homeless and help them overcome barriers which may prevent them from securing housing.

Earlier this year, Music in the Mountains and Hospitality House collaborated for the first time on what is described by both as a profound partnership. Young composers spent time and volunteered at the shelter while residents shared stories and experiences.

“Most of the kids had a preconceived notion of what homeless people are like,” said Music in the Mountain’s Education Coordinator Mark Vance. “They quickly realized, ‘Hey, they’re just like us; brothers and sisters who have had some bad luck.’ Things snowball and before they know it they’re homeless. The kids became very compassionate and volunteered left and right.”

“What I like about these collaborations is that it’s eye opening for the kids,” Vance said. “[It’s] nice that they can be inspired by all these different things — not just the typical inspiration, like love or loss. It provides an amazing resource for all types of art.”

Through the eyes of the students

The students were asked to translate their participation in Hospitality House into music, and by all accounts the results were astounding.

“Many were moved to tears when the kids talked about their experiences,” Vance said. “It was another great [chance] to be more informed of where they live, and what’s going on.”

Joanna Robinson — the cofounder of Hospitality House — can speak to the power of young people witnessing the reality of what she sees on a daily basis.

“How extraordinary it was to have the Young Composers Project spend significant time at the shelter,” Robinson said, “get to know many of our guests, and then turn their experience at the shelter into such marvelous, provocative music.”

“I loved the idea of exposing a group of intelligent, creative young people to an experience that I knew would open their minds and hearts to aspects of life they hadn’t seen before,” she said. “No matter how great I thought it would be, it was a thousand times better.

“Each composer was marvelously gifted, and their compositions — and their explanations of how the shelter inspired their compositions — were incredibly moving to all of us at the shelter, including our guests, who were present at the concert where the pieces were presented.”

The organizations celebrated over this past weekend when they learned that this Friday’s Brown Bag Bash had sold out.

“Each person will bring a brown bag of goods for Hospitality House guests as their ticket in the door,” coordinator Montijo said. “There will be a donation envelope at the table for the Young Composers Program. Attendees will enjoy an evening of old time rock and roll with historical banter by our resident host/DJ.

“There will be a diner style dinner at 1960 diner prices. The young composers will make a presentation and show a film of some of performances of their musical compositions. There will be a raffle of some very fine items for attendees to participate in.

“We have been very happy to see how quickly and enthusiastically members of our community responded to this idea.”

Music in the Mountain’s Mark Vance sums it up quite nicely: “Music as an art form can be a lofty, noble idea, but actually it can be inspired by everything around us.”

Those wishing to be placed on the waiting list for the sold out Brown Bag Bash can call Music in the Mountains at 530-265-6124.

Jennifer Nobles is a freelance writer for The Union and can be contacted at

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