With headliners such as Wynton Marsalis and the Joffrey Ballet on the La Jolla Music Society’s virtual marquee, the company’s community outreach and educational programs strive mightily for public attention.
“They are our best kept secret and success story,” says Leah Rosenthal, the company’s Artistic Director.“As we see it, anyone from Kindergarten through grey can be a student,” observed Allison Boles, the Music Society’s Education and Community Programming Manager. But the focus of the company’s programming has been on middle school and high school students.
“For 20 years, we have provided an after school music center at the Logan Memorial Educational Campus. Not only do we offer free music instruction—when the students have met certain milestones, they get to keep their instruments,” Boles explained. “We believe this is the longest running after school program of its kind in the county with bilingual, Spanish and English, staff instruction.”
Of course, when the pandemic brought classroom teaching to a halt, this music program had to adapt. “Last April, we knew in order to continue our instruction, we had switch from our ensemble classes to Zoom. So we moved from group instruction to individual instruction; we are able to see each of these students three times a week, and we have experienced a good retention rate in this new format.”
She noted that the program encompasses the spectrum of musical performance categories—piano, guitar, voice, percussion, woodwinds, and brass—taught by a cadre of local performers with excellent teaching skills.
“Adapting to the digital realm has revolutionized our educational programs,” Rosenthal added, “and will continue, I think, even when we go back to in person instruction. It has enhanced and enriched how we relate to the students. In-depth residencies using Zoom open up new possibilities, for instance, for our SummerFest artists, for our pre-concert lectures, and even for the open rehearsals.”In addition to the thriving program based at the Logan Memorial Educational Campus, the Music Society has flourishing programs based at Correia Middle School, Roosevelt Middle School, Mt. Miguel High School, and Mission Bay High School.
“For ten years we have had an incredible relationship with Mission Bay High, where Jean Paul Balmat is the music director. Some of his students have performed on stage in pre-concert performances at regular La Jolla Music Society concerts,” Boles noted.
During the month of March, the La Jolla Music Society is offering a number of free events focused on dance. On Wednesday, March 3, at 1:00 p.m., the Joffrey Ballet can be seen in a live stream open rehearsal of Nicolas Blanc’s work “Under the Trees’ Voices.” Thursday, March 4, at 5:30 p.m., viewers may tune in to a conversation with noted choreographer Mark Morris and director Peter Sellars, hosted by journalist Paula Zahn, in a live, interactive conversation about the arts, music, and food.
Popular contemporary composer Nico Muhly joins Mark Morris Thursday, March 11, at 5:30 p.m. in another live, interactive conversation about the arts, music, and food moderated by Paula Zahn. The following week, March 18, at 5:30 p.m., noted chef and author Alice Waters chats with Mark Morris. All of these events are open for registration at LJMS.org.
Joffrey Ballet’s actual performance from Chicago of Blanc’s “Under the Trees’ Voices,” set to the late Italian composer Ezio Bosso’s Symphony No. 2, will be streamed on Friday, April 30, at 5:00 p.m. Registration to access this event is available through LJMS.org.