There’s no dearth of classical music concerts in Los Angeles. But how many concerts encourage children to attend and even allow them to play orchestra instruments before the show begins?
The answer, safe to say, is not many. And it was no surprise, therefore, that Sunday night’s opening season concert by the renowned Santa Cecilia Orchestra at Occidental College revolved squarely around kids.
Students form Eagle Rock Elementary School & Magnet Center and Mount Washington Elementary School tried out everything from the violin and cello to the trumpet and trombone at the Santa Cecilia Orchestra’s 20th anniversary concert, which was held at Oxy’s Thorne Hall.
Titled “Triumph,” the concert opened with Beethoven’s uplifting Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-Flat Major, Opus 73. Also known as the “Emperor” concerto, the roughly 40-minute piece is a “heroic” symphony that symbolizes the overcoming of social strife and spiritual crisis. It was Beethoven’s last piano concerto, first performed 201 years ago this month in Leipzig, Germany.
Leading the Santa Cecilia Orchestra was Maestra De Léon de Vega, well known in educational circles for creating the Discovering Music program, which has introduced classical music to more than 40,000 students in 35 schools in Los Angeles.
Santa Cecilia is the only orchestra in the nation that has a specific mission to take classical music to the Latino community, which, the orchestra believes, is underserved and under-represented by the arts.
The orchestra’s music, however, has always been for everyone—and on Sunday night the “patron saint” of L.A.’s classical music even invited the youngest and most inexperienced to play.