Music Faculty and Students Launch Volunteer Relationship with LA Phil Program

This Spring, CFA’s Department of Music began a collaboration with the Los Angeles Philharmonic to benefit underserved music students. In the first visit of what promises to be an expanding level of involvement, Music faculty members Ken Aiso, Aaron Smith and Tania Fleischer took string and percussion Music students over to the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) participants at HOLA (Heart of Los Angeles), one of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s celebrated afterschool music education programs. The group performed a 30-minute recital for about 50 middle school and high school YOLA students, teachers and staff.

Mr. Aiso and sophomore Lianne Pearce played the Handel-Halvorsen Passacaglia, Freshman Jonathan Luk and Senior Charlie Lo Presti each played a concerto movement accompanied by Dr. Fleischer on the piano, and Mr. Smith performed a piece with freshmen Thomas Pribyl and Elton Rosicki for three cajon, a traditional Peruvian percussion instrument. Going forward, Dr. Fleischer, who spear-heads the program, hopes to have Department of Music students regularly visit YOLA at HOLA  as volunteer instructors and teachers’ assistants, working in small group settings to offer more individualized instruction to struggling students as well as to those that may need an additional challenge.

“The goal of performing for the Youth Orchestra was to introduce the LMU Music Program to the students at YOLA at HOLA and begin the process of building a strong relationship with them, in which we can learn how best to support the excellent work they are already doing,” said Dr. Fleischer. “For our students, it gave them an additional performance opportunity in an alternative setting, and in the future, will provide those who are interested in pursuing music education with a valuable and professionalizing experience.”

Located in the Rampart District, YOLA at HOLA serves hundreds of students with intensive after-school orchestral instruction five days a week. The LA Phil and its community partners provide free instruments, intensive music training, and academic support to students from underserved neighborhoods, empowering them to become vital citizens, leaders, and agents of change. Classes include music creativity, singing and solfège, ensemble rehearsals, and an hour of academic tutoring daily.

According to Dr. Fleischer, the children in the audience were completely rapt. “The students were so engaged and such a wonderful audience. This was serious music that we were performing, and they remained attentive and enthused throughout the concert. It’s especially gratifying as performers to feel the positive energy emanating from the audience-it was an enjoyable time for everyone.”

Going forward, the Department hopes to perform for YOLA at HOLA at least once a semester, with an increasing number of LMU students each time, in addition to expanding volunteer opportunities. “I am excited about fostering and growing this relationship,” said Dr. Fleischer. “One of our goals in this type of outreach is to support and encourage young students in their musical endeavors, since we know that arts education directly correlates with improved academic outcomes. By showcasing our own music majors and minors, we also hope to inspire continued music participation in a higher-education setting.”