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“A Far Off Place” Benefit Concert Slated To Raise Funds For Burbank Music Programs

Burbank and John Burroughs High School instrumental and vocal music students join professional studio musicians from the Musicians At Play Foundation for the annual benefit concert to raise funds for their music programs on Saturday, January 11. The 2020 concert is called A Far Off Place and features music by John Williams and James Horner.

Proceeds from donations, the silent auction and ticket sales will support the Music Is Instrumental campaign that seeks to raise more than $100,000 annually to support vocal and instrumental programs at Burbank and Burroughs High Schools.

The Musicians At Play Foundation has provided music mentorship to the young instrumentalists for the past several years. The 2020 concert marks the third annual fundraising concert and the culmination of weeks of preparation and mentorship.

“Don and April Williams have created an invaluable organization that brings critically needed support to music education in the Burbank School District,” commented internationally-recognized Maestro Anthony Parnther, who will conduct the concluding collaborative performance of the show.

“Musicians At Play also seeks to preserve the tradition and integrity of cinematic music through the teaching and performance of John Williams’, Michael Giacchino’s and other leading composers’ most iconic scores.”

“The chosen students in the Burbank Unified School District are the only in the world to have the opportunity to perform these world-famous scores alongside some of the very musicians who have recorded them in the Hollywood studios over the last thirty-five years,” Parnther added. “Each participating young musician is taken through eight weeks of workshops preparing for this concert and then mentors with L.A.’s finest in this inspiring week-long masterclass on musicianship, leadership and citizenship.”

Conductor Anthony Parnther leads the BUSD All District Orchestra in a rousing performance of music from film and television. (Photo By Ross Benson, May 2018)

“The goal of the MAP Mentor program is to give students the opportunity to sit, learn and perform next to a true professional,” explained program director Don Williams. “Students learn all the disciplines of how to become a professional musician.”

“To have a chance to play the original music from these iconic scores is inspirational and vital in their development as well rounded people as well as musicians,” Williams also said. “This experience will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”

What began as a campaign to raise more than one million dollars over ten years to fix and replace instruments three years ago has morphed into an ongoing mentorship program and awareness campaign to support the high school instrumental and vocal music programs.

“Music is one of the most empowering things you can give a young person,” commented John Pedersen, a supporter of the Music Is Instrumental campaign who describes himself as “simply a wind instrument repairman with over 55 years experience, currently working in a school music focused retail store – Bertrand’s Music – in Burbank.”

“Middle school is the time in a young person’s life when they figure out they are capable of doing something for themselves,” Pedersen also said. “The disciplines learned give them a feeling of ownership over what they have done. Mom and Dad cannot practice for them. They must do it and when they do… they get the prize.”

“They will realize the work they did gives them something no one can take away from them.”

music is instrumental

Burbank Unified All District Symphonic Orchestra and Choir and professional mentors from Musicians At Play Foundation amazed the audience at Burbank’s Wolfson Auditorium for the Music Is Instrumental fund-raising concert. (Photo By Ross Benson, May 2018)

“Once they taste this empowerment, we have just started being good teachers,” Pedersen continued. “After that, we continue to guide them with our experience.”

“It’s a beautiful thing… whether or not all students become professional musicians is not important. The EMPOWERMENT is important.”

A Far Off Place will feature programs from the advanced instrumental and vocal groups from Burbank and Burroughs High Schools – John Burroughs HS Powerhouse and Vocal Ensemble, Burbank HS InSync, John Burroughs HS Wind Ensemble and Burbank HS String Orchestra – in the first half.

After intermission, students from both high schools comprising the Burbank Unified School District Symphonic Orchestra and Choir will join their mentors from the Musicians At Play Foundation to perform selections from Avatar, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Home Alone.

Tom Kenny, the voice of Spongebob, will emcee the show.

The VIP reception and silent auction begins at 5:30 p.m. and the concert at 7:00 p.m. VIP tickets are $40. General admission adults are $20 and students/seniors are $10. Tickets are available in advance online or at the box office ahead of the show.

A Far Off Place will be performed at John Burroughs High School auditorium located at 1920 W. Clark Avenue in Burbank. Plenty of free parking is available in adjacent lots.

For more information on the Musicians At Play Foundation, visit their website.

(Image Courtesy Burbank Unified School District)

Burroughs High Readies “Once Upon A Holiday Spectacular”

The John Burroughs High School Performing Arts Department presents the annual Vocal Music, Instrumental Music and Dance combined performance Holiday Spectacular on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, December 13, 14 and 15.

This year, the mega-show is called Once Upon A Holiday Spectacular, but like every year, it showcases stellar performances from hundreds of high school students.

(Photo By Ross Benson)

“Our theme this year is ‘Storytelling’ and there are so many great holiday characters and stories to explore,” explained choir director Brendan Jennings. “Some of them will be super familiar, like Rudolph… and others may be new for some folks, like the story of the Candy Bomber, a World War 2 pilot.”

“With the combined forces of the music and dance program at Burroughs, it promises to be a ‘Spectacular’ show,” he added.

(Photo By Ross Benson)

Selected dancers from the Dance Department will showcase tap, contemporary, hip hop and ballet styles. The Instrumental Music Department’s wind ensemble,  and symphonic and concert bands will perform, along with the JBHS jazz ensemble.

All four choirs of the Vocal Music Department will perform, including the award-winning Powerhouse (advanced mixed choir), Sound Sensations (advanced women’s choir), Sound Waves (intermediate mixed choir) and Decibelles (intermediate women’s choir.)

(Photo By Ross Benson)

Shows begin at 7:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, December 13 and 14, and at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 15. Tickets are $15 general admission, $25 reserved orchestra and balcony and $10 for students and seniors.

As of publication time, there are very low numbers of reserved seats available for all three shows. General admission seating, in the side sections of the orchestra and balcony, still have some tickets available for advance purchase.

(Photo By Ross Benson)

Tickets can be purchased online here to support JBHS VMA or online here to support JBHS IMA or at the box office ahead of the show.

More information on Burroughs High’s Vocal Music Association can be found online here, on the Instrumental Music Association here and on the Dance Department here.

(Image Courtesy John Burroughs High School Performing Arts Department)

JBHS Bands Ready Second Annual Goodwill Drive

John Burroughs High School’s Instrumental Music Association holds its second annual Music Program Donation Drive Fundraiser Sunday, April 13. Between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., band members, supporters and community partners encourage Burbank residents to drop off donated items at the JBHS parking lot.

“Last year the band collected 82 bins of gently used clothing and household items,” commented event coordinator Suzanne Ryan. “This year the band is shooting for 101 bins.”

Members and supporters of Burroughs High School's Instrumental Music Association show some of the donations collected at the 2013 Goodwill Donation Drive. (Photo Courtesy John Burroughs High School Instrumental Music Association)

Members and supporters of Burroughs High School’s Instrumental Music Association show some of the donations collected at the 2013 Goodwill Donation Drive. (Photo Courtesy John Burroughs High School Instrumental Music Association)

“This Burbank community event helps Goodwill and the people they serve and raises money for the band,” added Ryan. “It’s a win-win for everybody!”

The JBHS IMA partners with Goodwill of Southern California and Box-n-Go Storage to collect donations and raise needed funds for the Burroughs band program.

Donations of unwanted and gently-used clothes, shoes and household items are welcome at this drive-through drop off fundraiser to help Goodwill continue with its community goals. Goodwill works to enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities or other disadvantages through education, training and job placement services.

For those who are not able to drop off donations on April 13 at the Goodwill Drive or are able to donate more than would fit into a vehicle, contact event organizers at info@jbhsima.org to arrange pick up for donations.

Additional information on the JBHS Instrumental Program can be found on their website at www.jbhsima.org.

Burroughs Drama Brings Out The Laughs With “Guys And Dolls”

Burroughs High School’s Dramatic Association, along with the Vocal and Instrumental Music Associations, collaborated for a presentation of Guys and Dolls on February 6, 7 and 8. The popular musical showcased the obviously talented voices and polished acting chops of Burroughs High School students. In a word, the musical production was fun.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The audience laughed often at the antics of Nicely-Nicely Johnson (Sully Zack) and his buddies, eternally gambling and on the make, and Miss Adelaide (Samantha Rubin) with her continual cold. Rubin pulled off a very convincing New York accent, even in song.

Robin Mazer’s proper Sarah Brown tries to save the sinner Sky Masterson (Nick Nikoian) and winds up finding something more about herself instead. Mazer, too, impressed with her vocal range.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Directed by Drama teacher Guy Meyers, the young thespians worked convincingly on the stage and never seemed to miss a beat. The actors inhabited their roles and brought the well-known Guys And Dolls characters to life.

Powerful group harmonies in the musical numbers held the audience’s rapt attention, while solo performances  impressed all around. Vocal Music head Brendan Jennings provided direction for the solo and group vocals. The show’s music was performed by a pit orchestra conducted by Instrumental Music Director Tana Barnett.

(Photo By Ross A. Benson)

(Photo By Ross A. Benson)

Acting chops, vocal chops, musical chops – Burroughs’ Performing Arts Department does it again, putting together another excellent musical production, their sixth such collaboration, relying on the talents of teenagers. Supported by a large team of tech staff, the sets, transitions, lights and all the elements of a professional production allowed the high schoolers to shine.

Burroughs’ Drama Association’s next performance will be in May, when the high school actors present Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. The VMA’s next show is Pop Show 35 on February 27, 28 and March 1. “LIVE! At The Burroughs Bowl” in May will be the IMA’s fifth annual outdoor ampitheatre event showcasing film and television scores.

More information on JBHS Drama, Vocal Music Association and Instrumental Music Association can be found on their websites.

Put On Your Dancing Shoes For Salsa Under The Stars With Burroughs Jazz Band

By Lisa Paredes
Associate Editor

The Burroughs High School Jazz Ensemble has big Saturday night planned for Burbank, with Salsa music, a full dance floor, dance lessons, food and drinks, on September 7 at the JBHS Outdoor Ampitheatre. Sponsored in part by the Arturo Sandoval Institute and former Burbank Mayor Marsha Ramos and presented by the JBHS Instrumental Music Association, Salsa Under the Stars features Latin music standards performed by the JBHS Jazz Ensemble. Dance professional Linda Shoemaker will offer group lessons between the music sets, for those of all ages interested in dancing to salsa, meringue, rumba, mamba and doing the cha cha cha.

Grammy award winning jazz legend Arturo Sandoval has made a lasting imprint on contemporary Jazz music. The Arturo Sandoval Institute supports Salsa Under the Stars and has committed to an ongoing mentoring program with the Burroughs High School music program. Ms. Ramos, a former JBHS band member, lends a hand with this event and the Burroughs IMA, which is in dire need of financial help to keep the entire JBHS music program afloat.

“Last year’s Salsa Under the Stars was a spectacular success, an event that features both the energetic live music of our jazz band and a rare chance for families to dance together to the music made by the student musicians,” comments Tanya Barnett, JBHS Band Director. “This year looks to be even bigger and better!”

Dinner by Tacos Maximo, home-made desserts and drinks will be sold at the event. Blankets and folding chairs are encouraged and picnic baskets are welcome. The Burroughs Outdoor Ampitheatre is at 1920 W. Clark Ave. in Burbank. Pre-sale tickets for the event are available with preferred pricing through September 4: General $7, Student/Senior $5. Tickets day of the event are: Genera; $10, Student/Senior $7. All ticket and concession proceeds benefit the JBHS music program.

For Salsa Under the Stars tickets and information on the JBHS Instrumental Music Program, visit www.jbhsima.org