Festival of Youth Arts – Closing 2020 on a Lighter Note

   Rotary members were given a sampling of performances from four of Madison’s outstanding youth arts organizations.  Program Committee member Amanda White provided an overview and arranged for this special program with video technical assistance from Program Committee Chair Neil Fauerbach.  

   The Black Star Drum Line was created in 2008 by Director Joey B. Banks as an opportunity for kids to creatively express themselves through the “Percussive Arts”; that is, drums and percussion musical instruments.  Core youth development values incorporate diversity, equity, inclusion, respect for self and others, and mastery.  They have performed over 600 times in Madison and around the state. 

   In a montage of kids describing what they received from Black Star Drum Line, the word “responsibility” came up most often with dedication, commitment, discipline, maturity, increased self-esteem and mental health, and connection rounding out the ideals the organization provided.

   The Children’s Theater of Madison is a non-profit theater company with longtime roots in Madison.  It seeks to provide theater experiences to youth that inspires, engages, and educates.  A collection of scenes from a performance of “The Wizard of Oz” was featured that exhibited the outstanding talent, production values, and audience engagement of the classic story of Dorothy in the Land of Oz.

   Madison Youth Choirs is a community of 11 ensembles that serves singers from 7 to 18 years old.  They have continued to practice virtually through Zoom even though live practice and performances are not possible during the pandemic.  They report that they remain strong and engaged even in a virtual space.  Their montage included four performances from different groups of varying ages and composition.

   Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra is a large program that consists of five orchestras, a percussion ensemble, brass and harp choirs, a chamber music program, and top notch instrumental and performance opportunities.  Since 1966 they have served over 5,000 young musicians from South Central Wisconsin.  Their video featured an impressive performance from their 50th  anniversary concert at Overture Hall with over 500 musicians ranging in age from 5 to 18.  They performed Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.”

   Youth arts programs, even under pandemic conditions, remain a powerful way to keep kids connected and engaged.  Non-profits in youth arts are continuing to work to nurture kids in a challenging time.  Rotarians are encouraged to reach out and support and look for ways to be involved.

   Amanda also wanted to make us aware of the new, game-changing Madison Youth Arts Center under development on Madison’s near east side.  It will be an affordable, permanent home for youth arts and help create better access to the arts for all neighborhoods and kids in Madison.

   Our thanks to each performing arts group and to Kevin Hoffman for preparing this review article.  If you missed our meeting, you can watch it here:  https://youtu.be/xQQJAPenF24.

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