The following is a guest post by Anne McLean of the Music Division.
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Music Director Marin Alsop brings the BSO’s talented OrchKids to the Library on Saturday, April 13. Fans of all ages are cordially invited to an afternoon of performances honoring iconic jazz composers Jelly Roll Morton and Scott Joplin and the birth of jazz. Tickets are not required, but patrons can register for a reminder here. Registrations may also be accessed via loc.gov/concerts or the free Eventbrite mobile app for iOS or Android devices.
Marin Alsop created the OrchKids initiative in 2008 with founding donors Rheda Becker and Robert E. Meyerhoff. Inspired by Venezuela’s El Sistema and energized by Alsop’s belief that “music has the power to change lives,” the very successful OrchKids program is the cornerstone of the BSO’s community engagement efforts, serving over 1,300 children from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.
“An orchestra adopts a city, one kid at a time,” was the New York Times description of the BSO’s commitment to the OrchKids vision. Marin Alsop’s concept is now a year-round, during- and after-school program offering instruction and instruments, plus performance and mentorship opportunities. Just a few of the guest artists who have worked with the group include Renée Fleming and Hilary Hahn, beat boxer Shodekeh, Pink Martini and Baltimore’s own Roger Waters. Its young musicians have performed for over half a million audience members in the program’s eleven-year history.
For their runout appearance at the Library on April 13, the OrchKids players will be fielding four talented ensembles. You’ll hear performances reflecting their January excursion to view manuscript lead sheets and sheet music, vintage scores, film clips and other treasures relating to Morton, Joplin and composer and bandleader James Reese Europe. Their guides were Music Division staff curators James Wintle and Loras Schissel, and Todd Harvey from the American Folklife Center. In the 2 pm matinée concert, the OrchKids String Ensemble premieres a new work jointly composed by the group; their composition is an homage to Scott Joplin’s groundbreaking 1911 opera Treemonisha, a celebration of African-American culture. The OrchKids Jazz Band will pay tribute to Jelly Roll Morton, whose 1938 recording session with Alan Lomax took place on our Coolidge Auditorium stage. And the OrchKids Bucket Band and OrchKids Brass Band will give an informal, outdoor pop-up concert at 12:15 pm on the Thomas Jefferson Building’s Neptune Plaza.