When I was 7 years old, my teacher pinned a pink-colored note to my blouse, a subtle hint to my parents to read its important message. The note encouraged parents sign their children up for our school’s orchestra or band and included a list of instruments that were available at no charge to interested students.
Upon reading the note, my mom asked me if I would like to play an instrument. Being all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I looked at the list and immediately picked the flute. My mom checked the box next to “violin,” gave me the note to return to my teacher and thus began my lifelong love of music; a journey that began with 11 years of school-provided, then private music lessons, and countless hours of practicing, recitals, concerts, adjudications, and life-changing, and dare I say, life-saving instruction.
As a result, I have spent a good portion of my adult life supporting various music education programs because of the importance I feel music played in molding my own life in way that is almost indescribable. Most recently this included a several-year stint as the president of the Pacific Symphony League, which supports the various music education programs of our own local, world-renowned Pacific Symphony.
So when current League president Janice Smith called to tell me about their latest fundraiser, I was all ears.
Earlier this year, the Pacific Symphony and presenting sponsor Yamaha unveiled “OC Can You Play?” – a public piano project in which 20 colorful pianos, each custom painted by a local recognized artist, were placed throughout Orange County as a way to encourage audiences to reconnect to their musical souls.
Eighteen of the 20 pianos were auctioned online during the last week of the promotion, and only two of the pianos are left, one by artist Carolyn Yarnell (played on by none other than virtuoso pianist Lang Lang), and the other by artists Jack Marko and Eddie de la Barca.
The Pacific Symphony League is selling opportunity tickets until May 2 when the pianos will be raffled off to two lucky winners. Only 1,000 $25 tickets will be sold (or 5 for $100), keeping winning odds high and allowing purchasers the opportunity to buy tickets meant for the piano they prefer.
Additional prizes will be awarded including tickets to Pacific Symphony classical and pops concerts, and all proceeds will go directly to support the Symphony’s children’s education and community outreach programs.
In order to understand why fundraisers like this one are so important, I would be remiss if I didn’t give you an idea of the depth and breadth of the programs they support. These include:
- arts.X.press – In celebration of Cole Carsan St.Clair, Music Director Carl St. Clair’s late son, arts.X.press is a residential, arts immersion program for 150 middle school students held in three week-long summer sessions at Vanguard University.
- Bass Days – A summer program presented by members of the Symphony bass section, designed to help student string bass players enhance their technical and musical skills.
- Classical Connections – Music Director Carl St.Clair helps the classics come alive in these 90-minute Sunday afternoon concerts and conversations about the composers and their music.
- OC Can You Play—With Us? Adult amateur musicians rehearse and perform side-by-side with the Pacific Symphony, under the baton of Carl St.Clair on the concert hall stage.
- Concert Previews and Podcasts – Lectures and demonstrations are held immediately prior to Classics concerts. Podcasts are designed to help audience members develop a deeper understanding of concert programming.
- Family Musical Mornings Concert Series – Five Saturday morning, hands-on programs (10 total concerts) are presented for young concert-goers and their families (recommended for ages 5-11).
- Heartstrings – A major community-wide partnership program providing free concert access, enrichment activities and transportation for a range of underserved Orange County residents.
- Frieda Belinfante Class Act Program – A comprehensive symphonic education partnership between the Symphony and 30 elementary schools throughout the County, serving 17,000 students and 7,000 parents, teachers and administrators.
- Pacific Symphony Santiago Strings – This string orchestra, conducted by music educator Irene Kroesen, provides young musicians (ages 11-15) with quality educational and performance experiences.
- Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra – Conducted by Assistant Conductor Maxim Eshkenazy, this program provides its 100-plus members with an orchestral experience, marked by educational excellence and strong connections with Symphony musicians.
- Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble – Led by Josh Roach, this program provides talented young wind and percussion instrumentalists the opportunity to pursue musical excellence.
- Target Symphony in the Cities Concerts – Free concerts performed in the summer months in casual and inviting settings, usually area parks, for Orange County residents and their families.
For more information about the Pacific Symphony League’s “OC Can You Play?” Piano Raffle, log on to www.pacificsymphony.org or call (714) 755-5788.
Lynn Selich is a marketing and public relations consultant residing in Newport Beach. She can be reached at [email protected].