October 17, 2013
by Peggy Clifford
Santa Monica Dispatch
On Sunday, October 27, from 3:30 until 5:00 pm, local musicians and music educators will celebrate a unique community collaboration in music education with a free concert under the outdoor pavilion at Saint Anne School.
SOL-LA Music Academy and Saint Anne School will co-host a free community music concert featuring professional and student musicians. Also performing will be currently-touring Dúo Del Sol, a violin and guitar dúo who are including this concert on their new album tour to support the extraordinary, four-years young music education partnership between SOL-LA and Saint Anne School.
The program delivers quality music education to students who are often unable to afford it. In the spirit of community music collaboration, the concert also will include performances by the Des Fleurs Sextet, a UCLA Cello Quartet, an American Youth Symphony ensemble, and student performers from SOL-LA and Saint Anne School.
SOL-LA Music Academy, a non-profit Santa Monica arts education academy, offers performing arts study in instrumental music, a range of ensemble classes, music theory, choral classes and theatre improvisation, from pre-school to adult students. The research-based program begins with foundational instruction and proceeds through an interactive program of individual and group instruction in instrumental music, music composition and theory, and performance to provide for optimal growth.
Since its inception, SOL-LA has been committed to attracting, engaging and serving children for whom quality music education would not otherwise be available. A goal of SOL-LA’s Director and Board has been to increase tuition assistance to 50% of its student population, enabling the school to increase the number of students from diverse backgrounds participating in the program. This year SOL-LA is rapidly approaching its goal: 49% of SOL-LA’s 550 students on campus and at satellite locations will receive full or partial scholarships, compared to 25% three years ago.
Located at 20th Street and Colorado Avenue, Saint Anne School is a 105-year old Catholic elementary school with a century-long history of providing an excellent academic program to low-income and working families and exercising a preferential option for the poor.
The Saint Anne School music program began with a fourth grade class of 18 beginning violin and cello students and has grown rapidly to now serve 230 K-8 students. The essential aspects of the String Program are weekly lessons with a SOL-LA master teacher in violin, cello, guitar and chorus and daily peer-to-peer mentorship/practice buddies for string students from EMMI at Crossroads School, Santa Monica High School Symphony Orchestra students and UCLA music students. Saint Anne School students receive full scholarships to attend ensemble, theory and chorus classes on the SOL-LA campus.
“We are enormously proud of our music program at Saint Anne School, which is free to all of our students and enriches their education enormously,” said Principal Michael Browning. “In 2010, Saint Anne School was named as a finalist in the prestigious LA Philharmonic BRAVO Award competition for excellence in music education, the first Catholic elementary school ever to receive that honor.”
Dúo Del Sol’s Uruguay-raised violinist, Javier Orman, and his duo partner and guitarist, Tom Farrell. Farrell and Orman have been called “avant-sonic acrobats” by LA Weekly and “exceptional genius” by I Am Entertainment Magazine. Dúo Del Sol just released its debut LP ‘hello Kaleidoscope’ (available on Bandcamp, iTunes and all major digital stores). Orman and Farrell are also highly accomplished teachers, who met at SOL-LA Music Academy and studied with some of the greatest musicians in their field. Both teach at SOL-LA, and Orman recently began his third year teaching violin to elementary school students in the SOL-LA instrumental program at Saint Anne School.
Dúo del Sol nimbly performing as a progressive rock band to a symphony orchestra to a pair of folksy singer/songwriters, often all within one song. They sing, loop, clap and shout. However, their versatility stems from how they use their instruments: one violin and one guitar. They are pioneers who think of the violin and the guitar as companions in an adventure, as the laboratories of two mad scientists. When they are asked about their instrumentation, they are irrevocably surprised: it’s a part of them, it’s practically who they are.
“The guitar in Dúo del Sol is the drum set, the bass, the cello and the mandolin,” says Farrell. “I continuously discover new sounds and new ways of approaching this instrument. This is my personal take on the guitar.” Orman has a similar experience with the violin: “It’s my voice; it’s my way out. The violin is so close to the human voice, but it can also sound like an electric guitar or even a trombone at any moment, which makes playing it a really freeing experience.”