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Music in the Mountains and The Center for the Arts offer world music program, virtual choir for kids and families

Hollie Grimaldi Flores
Special to Prospector

KNOW & GO

WHO: Music in the Mountains & The Center for the Arts

WHAT: Music for Young Minds: World Music Program & Virtual Choir

WHERE: The MIM Google Classroom, available online

WHEN: March 1 – May 30

PRICE: Free

MORE INFO: Email marges@musicinthemountains.org or call 530-265-6124

Geared primarily for kindergarten to fifth grade students and their families, the Music for Young Minds program will explore the music and international cultures of India, Mali and Greece. The free 12-week course is available online — meaning kids and their families can set their own schedule around learning, with a virtual choir concert culminating at the end of the series.
Provided photo
On March 6, The Center is hosting its second Virtual Family Fun Day with a special online presentation of “Diary of a Wombat,” based on the multi-award winning picture book by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley.
Photo by Robert Catto

As the pandemic restrictions continues to limit in person gatherings, art organizations are determined to continue to offer experiences for both children and adults. To that end, Music in the Mountains and The Center for the Arts are partnering to bring a world music education program to area children.

Geared primarily for kindergarten to fifth grade students and their families, the program will explore the music and international cultures of India, Mali and Greece. The free 12-week course is available online — meaning kids and their families can set their own schedule around learning, with a virtual choir concert culminating at the end of the series.

Music in the Mountains Executive Director Jenny Darlington-Person said while she knew the organization could not function as it would in a non-pandemic environment, there were still a number of ways to bring relief to those who enjoy quality musical performances.



“We realized we couldn’t do our normal in-person high quality professional concerts, but that doesn’t mean we still couldn’t connect our community through really engaging musical programming,” said Darlington-Person.

Music in the Mountains has continued to present a variety of guest artists, orchestra and choir performances. Darlington-Person added, “When you are told what you can’t do, at least you are left with what you can do, and that is what we’ve done.”



The organization has not only been able to keep the entire staff but also hired an education grants manager to help manage the programs made possible through the California Arts Council.

Darlington-Person said the collaboration with The Center for the Arts is a win-win for both agencies who secured grants from the California Arts Council but had to pivot when the pandemic occurred. The California Arts Council was still willing to release the funds and wanted to make sure the programs still happened in whatever capacity possible.

“We both got some funding and the California Arts Council basically told all of their grantees that they understood you couldn’t necessarily do what you planned but do your best, essentially,” explained Darlington-Person.

The Music in the Mountains grant request was to expose students to high quality professional musicians. Meanwhile, The Center for the Arts (CFTA) was to create a children’s choir for Worldfest. Realizing Music in the Mountains had already been able to pivot to virtual choirs, Center for the Arts Executive Director Amber Jo Manuel suggested the two organizations might be able to help each other.

“Theirs was to do world music. Ours ended up shifting to a world music program through Carnegie Hall (as we are using their materials) and it seemed like the perfect fit,” Darlington-Person explained. “The partnership grew out of that.”

Students will learn songs from three different world cultures — India, Mali and Greece. Lead by flutist and former music teacher and current Music in the Mountains education grants manager Shannon Devir, kids will go to a music classroom where they will find videos to watch, dances to learn, a number of off-screen activities to do, concerts to sing along with and an opportunity to learn several songs. They will then have the opportunity to record themselves (though recording for the concert is not required for participation), which will then become the Worldfest Children’s Choir recording.

Music in the Mountains Artistic Director Ryan Murray taught himself how to use the software and will do the necessary editing that takes the individual performers and melds them into a virtual choir.

“The quality of what we have been able to produce has just astounded me,” Darlington-Person said, “None of us had these skills at the beginning (of the pandemic). I just looked at my staff and said here is what we are going to do, and they all did it.”

While this program is designed for children, family members are welcome and encouraged to join in on the fun. Students and their families can register for the 12-week course for free by emailing MIM’s Education Program’s Manager at marges@musicinthemountains.org.

Both the Center for the Arts and Music in the Mountains have been working hard over the past year pivoting to meet the needs of the community while keeping the staff of both organizations busy.

Darlington-Person concluded, “I think I have a new appreciation for the old cliché, ‘necessity is the mother of invention,’ but doing nothing was not an option. First of all, people need something positive to look forward to. They need something that fills their spirit; that soothes their soul, and music does that.”

She added, “I really do value the partnership we have had with The Center for the Arts over the past year, even though we haven’t been able to have a single concert at the beautiful new Center, it’s coming.”

“A Musical Safari with Music for Young Minds” kicked off March 1 but because all lessons are pre-designed, students can log in anytime after registering. It runs through May 30. For more information call 530-265-6124 and ask for Marge in the box office.

 

FAMILY FUN DAY WITH THE CENTER

On March 6, The Center is hosting its second Virtual Family Fun Day with a special online presentation of “Diary of a Wombat,” based on the multi-award winning picture book by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley. Millions of young people around the world have adored the book. It has been adapted for the stage by Australia’s Monkey Baa Theatre Company, featuring stunning puppetry, a live cello score and a brilliant set design. Family Fun Day is always free, offering families the opportunity to experience art together in our community.

Families interested in participating in these events can RSVP for free at thecenterforthearts.org. Please contact the box office with any questions by calling 530-274-8384, or going to 314 W. Main Street in Grass Valley, or sending an email to boxoffice@thecenterforthearts.org.

The box office is open Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to 4 p.m.

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at holliesallwrite@ gmail.com.


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