Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Celebrating Not-Back-to-School by Attending a World Class Music Concert

One advantage of living near a big city is the extensive array of public resources, museums and events offered throughout the area. Local recreation departments, libraries and arts organizations all offer opportunities to participate in interesting and educational experiences.

Pritzker Pavillion architecture by Frank Gehry

The Chicago Jazz Philharmonic is an amazing and highly respected organization. With a full piece orchestra, ensembles ranging from the full 60-piece orchestra to a double quartet they contribute in a big way to the city's creative musical offerings. They have a wide repertoire that combines jazz and classical music. With co-founder, Orbert Davis conducting the program "Legends and Lions", The Chicago Jazz Philharmonic opened the 40th annual Chicago Jazz festival at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.


On one of the very last days of the Chicago Public Schools summer break, this amazing organization also hosted a wonderful hands on workshop open to students. The educational component of  The Chicago Jazz Philharmonic coupled the Chicago Jazz festival opening performance with a Second Line participatory workshop open to all students. Participants were welcomed by organizers Sarah Pietlicki and Jordan Mandela. The workshop was led by enthusiastic artists Crystal Swenson, Mikel Patrick Avery and Tubad.



The workshop took place prior to the concert, incorporated visual arts, dance and a bit of education about the celebratory musical events that take place in New Orleans, Louisiana. If you know second line parades, you know that the visual art, music, dancing and singing are all interrelated and fluid. The teaching artists managed to convey this through the days activities and creations. Everyone practiced something; art, dance or music making for the day. Workshop participants and the teaching artists opened the festive evening with a fun filled second line parade around the park.



We first became aware of the event due to the featured performance of a homeschool family friend, an accomplished young flute player, Mayshell Morris. Mayshell, home for the summer from her studies at Berklee School of Music in Boston, played that evening with her long time teachers, mentors, friends and colleagues at the beautiful Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago. Seeing young people strive for and reach their dreams is a moving experience. In this case, seeing Mayshell's performance and knowing her and her family so well, made this performance an especially moving one for me. It was one of those unforgettable, happy tears, goose bump moments.
August 29, 2018 - "Chicago Legends and Lions" -
opening the 40th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival

Watching videos of New Orleans jazz parades the night before with our teen daughter, my husband and I reminiscing about the days we lived in Louisiana, my daughter participating in an arts workshop with homeschool friends, all of us enjoying Mayshell's performance, on the same stage with jazz legends, on a beautiful late summer evening in the context of a stunningly designed facility, it all became the delightful kick off of our not-back-to school season.


Most of the participants have headed back to classrooms but, for them, back to school or not, it must have been a memorable event. It certainly was for me!

Face paint by Kat Archer
Group photo at "the bean".
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