Thursday, March 15, 2012

“Young Performers” Gives Youth a Good Name

By Gabe DiMaio

“The problems in my school come from the kids in orchestra, band, and chorus.”

I think that we would be hard-pressed to find an assistant principal in North America who would say this with a straight face. Indeed, oftentimes it’s the kids in the music suites that contribute positively to school life, perform better academically, and have been known on occasion to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Many times in the media, if you learn about something a young person is doing, it is not what his or her folks want to bring up at the next family gathering.

“Let me tell you about Andrew being suspended for bullying, Grandma!”

“Barb and her friends took our car out for a joy ride…”YngPerformer_final

I think it is vitally important for the media to show kids doing something right instead of what we usually see and hear. They’re trying to make it through the very awkward adolescent years and they face modern pressures that many adults can hardly imagine; it isn’t easy. But, do you know what? Many are not only making it through these years without major incident, they are excelling at something that Classical 94.5 WNED is in a unique position to celebrate: classical music. That is why we created the Young Performers radio program.

We put the call out in the fall for musicians in the high school years or younger to apply to be on the show. We are giving them the opportunity to perform for our audience and tell a little about themselves. By springtime, we’ll have 13 well-crafted episodes for the station to broadcast on Sunday nights.

The quality of the performances of those who applied was so good that I feel confident in saying that you will be amazed. In a few years, some will be performing with the great orchestras.

The challenge was that we had 145 applications to be on the show, a response that exceeded our expectations. However, this also meant that we had to make difficult decisions as to who would be included. We could have enough performers for another 13 episodes.

The good news is that we’ve gotten a lot of praise and moral support from the community. We also received some generous financial support from a local foundation to help get this project off of the ground. It’s our hope that we can get enough traction now so that we can get the support necessary to produce another season and (hopefully) give our audience more than 13 episodes a year.

I feel confident about the future of Young Performers. Is there a downside to highlighting our region’s young classical musicians? You tell me.

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