Two February concerts will showcase and support elementary music instruction in Douglas County.
The first one is set for Feb. 5, when the Castle Pines Arts and Cultural Foundation will partner with the Colorado Chamber Orchestra to present music played by kids in the program at the Castle Pines Community Center. Included will be a symphony composed by 8-year-old Emma Spears, which “is as good as the music Mozart wrote at that age,” according to Colorado Chamber Orchestra Director Thomas Blomster. Also performing will be high school student Fionn Cool, who plays trombone and French horn and has played at Dazzle Jazz Club in Denver. (He started in this program in sixth grade.)
Several years ago, budget cuts spelled the end of elementary school band and orchestra instruction as part of the school day. It became an extracurricular, after-school experience, priced at $41 a month plus instrument rental. For some families, even in relatively well-off Douglas County, music classes were out of reach. But a solution was discovered through a local professional orchestra.
The Castle Pines Arts and Cultural Foundation partnered with the Colorado Chamber Orchestra in CCOEIM (Colorado Chamber Orchestra Early Instrumental Music). It has grown to provide elementary band classes before or after school from 200 children in one (high school) feeder area to 1,432 children in six Douglas County feeder areas.
About 10 percent of district students qualify for free lunch and need financial assistance to learn to play an instrument. Educators say that musical training “helps increase many educational disciplines, including math and reading, as well as instill a tremendous sense of self-worth and accomplishment,” according to Debbie Davidson-Stanfill, who directs the Colorado Chamber Orchestra’s Outreach program. She provides matching scholarships.
Proceeds from these concerts will go toward scholarships. “Last year, we raised $5,000,” said Cheryl McGovern of the foundation.
The second concert, “Save the Music! An evening of Jazz, Wine and Eats,” at 7 p.m. on Feb. 26, will be at the Daniels Gate Club House. The first 15 minutes will present a short performance by young musicians, who will be followed by the well-known Hank Troy Trio. (No drinks will be served until the kids have performed and departed.) Tickets cost $60 each or two for $110.
For an additional $20, guests can pull a number for a bottle of mystery wine, valued from $15 to $100. (It cannot be consumed at the event.)
Pianist Hank Troy, a local jazz legend, began presenting ragtime concerts and accompanying silent films in Denver in 1971. Ten years later, he joined the Queen City Jazz Band and he also plays for other groups, stage shows and musical theater.
The Colorado Chamber Orchestra, directed by Thomas Blomster, now makes its home at the Arvada Center. The professional orchestra’s mission includes in-school education.