Pasadena Showcase House Hosts 4,000 Fourth Graders for Concert

PSHA President Donna Gotch with students from The Chandler School who were thrilled to be at the concert hall.Brett Schrader, a father of a student at Don Benito Elementary, chaperoned students to the concert and to Grand Park where they enjoyed lunch afterwards.Pasadena Showcase House Hosts 60th Annual Youth Concert Pasadena Showcase House Hosts 60th Annual Youth Concert Pasadena Showcase House Hosts 60th Annual Youth Concert Pasadena Showcase House Hosts 60th Annual Youth Concert The sirens sang opera, captivating the students.PSHA President Donna Gotch with the Youth Concert Chair Jill Fosselman dressed as the anniversary cake.Students from Norma Coombs Alternative School thoroughly enjoyed the concert.

Article and Photography by RACHEL YOUNG

1:49 pm | October 30, 2013

“Happy Anniversary!” four thousand fourth graders shouted in unison in the Walt Disney Concert Hall to celebrate the 60th annual youth concert, 50th annual Pasadena Showcase house and 10th anniversary of the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Wednesday morning Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts (PSHA) and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, led by Conductor Daniel Cohen, presented Wing on Wing excerpts, composed by Esa-Pekka Salonen, to 4,000 4th grade students from 52 San Gabriel Valley elementary schools, 30 being Pasadena schools.

“The first thing that tends to be cut at public or private schools is music programs or art programs and this is something that we believe in. Part of our mission at Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts is to support youth music education. This is one of three annual events we hold for children,” President of Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts Donna Gotch said.

With 21 schools taking part for the first time, the murmured excitement grew until the orchestra commenced and all 4,000 students watched absolutely engrossed by the music and actors. A gift by the Green Foundation made the youth concert possible.

Called a theatrical orchestra performance, a story weaved with music encouraged everyone to use their imaginations, fit with windstorms and sirens who captivated the students. Miss Marineh of Norma Coombs Alternative School said the performance was absolutely exciting and the kids were able be imaginative in the educational experience.

The youth concert has come a long way in its sixty years. __, who has volunteered with Pasadena Showcase House for the last 20 years, remembered when the concert was held at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium and the volunteers would dress up with Halloween sweaters and witch hats.

“Many of the kids have never been to Walt Disney Concert Hall and this is the first and last time they’ll ever be here. It’s a pretty exciting day for these kids. The chances they will be exposed to this caliber of music are slim to none. We try to focus target title 1 schools,” Becky Marksbury said, who has chaired the youth concert in the past.

Brett Schrader, a father of a student at Don Benito Elementary, chaperoned students to the concert, “I didn’t expect dancing and singing, I just expected music so it was great. The opportunity Pasadena Showcase House gives our kids is wonderful.”

Many of the students said they loved the opera singing and the funny program.

“I liked the opera, I liked how they sang All the lights, so pretty. That was my first time coming to the concert hall,” Sophia a 4th grader from Don Benito said.

The teachers receive materials ahead of time to engage the students so when they get to the concert hall the fourth graders really understand what they are hearing. The Pasadena Showcase House also brings the Pasadena Conservatory of Music to 3rd graders to teach them what the symphony is all about and give the students the opportunity to touch the instruments. Then the next year in 4th grade the students go see the orchestra performance.

“I think there’s a connection between learning and music and I think these kids benefit tremendously by being exposed to classical music. We hope when these kids will be interested in playing an instrument,” Marksbury said.

An all-volunteer organization, PSHA is a non-profit California Corporation whose members donate their time and talents to produce the annual Pasadena Showcase House of Design. Founded in 1948, and formerly known as The Pasadena Junior Philharmonic Committee, PSHA adopted the Pasadena Showcase House of Design as its annual benefit in 1965. Proceeds from this benefit have resulted in the awarding of over $19 million in gifts and grants in support of the LA Phil, Walt Disney Concert Hall, non-profit organizations and cultural, educational, and musically-oriented programs.