I think we can be justly proud of the way that the Pro Musica Education Outreach Programs have evolved over the last year. During this time there has been a steady improvement and progress in all facets of our musical offerings to the Mexican and expat communities. Thanks to the innovative concept of bringing in talented, university level music students and teachers from other cities, our reputation is spreading throughout Guanajuato State, and is no longer confined exclusively to San Miguel.

Our flagship program, Rhythm, Rhyme and Reason continues to win praise and has been successful from the advent of its first pilot classes of 2011, due not only to the leadership and expertise of Director Tim Hazell, but also because of the enthusiasm of hundreds of children who take part, as well as their teachers and parents.

I have been delighted with the rapid growth of new additions to our Outreach infrastructure, particularly the School of Music and the Youth Orchestra under Founder and Director Tim Hazell. Thanks to your generosity in donating instruments and in cash donations these are now both thriving and we anticipate further growth in the coming year.

The Pro Musica Youth Orchestra, essentially a chamber orchestra, rehearses every weekend, and in addition we focus on sections within the overall group to build up experience and musical knowledge; for example the brass section, as those of you who attended the Gala heard. The recent performance of the bassoon trio at our last Artists' Supper of the season is another example, and a similar plan is in process with our winds section.

The Pro Musica Youth Chamber Orchestra is preparing for two 5:00 pm summer concerts at St. Paul's church. We are concentrating on works for small orchestra and sections, such as the Mozart Symphony #25 and Concierto for Oboe and Violin by Bach, which really show off the proficiency of our players, as well as the well-known St. Paul's Suite by Gustav Holst, which will showcase our string section. This will be followed later in the summer by a third concert at the Bellas Artes These public appearances, which we hope you will support, give the orchestra a strong sense of purpose and commitment.

We have also inaugurated a Young Conductor's Program, which already has four students. One or two of them will be chosen to assist Tim Hazell, directing a movement or a section piece at the summer concerts, to give them exposure and confidence in their conducting. The experience of working with a live orchestra is hard to come by, and this added responsibility will give them the sense that they have a “piece” of the program all to themselves. 

During the Garden Concert weekend last month, the Smoky Mountain Brass Quintet generously gave a Master Class and one of our trumpet players, Carlos Matta, was keen to point out afterwards that he had gained much from it. Carlos had brought a piece he needed to perform at entrance exams to qualify for further university music studies and the Master Class gave him new techniques to polish the music. He mentioned being more confident about his upcoming performance as a result. The brass section of the orchestra will also benefit from the munificent gift of three world-class trumpets and accessories by Terry Warburton, the owner of Warburton Music, the largest manufacturer of brass instruments in North America, a gift worth over US$6,000.

Violin and strings teacher Jesús Chavez has been able to make rapid progress with our School of Music violin students. They have made enormous strides in recent months, to the point where they are playing together in a coordinated and musically meaningful way. The students will give a recital in June at Cinco de Mayo school, attended by all the proud parents and teachers. It is touching to watch these serious young adolescents on their way home with their music cases and notebooks. They are not the same students who enrolled last summer, but have grown tremendously as personalities and want to continue to improve. We are researching a specially-adapted classical repertoire for children to take them further with their techniques and newly-acquired abilities to perform.

Later this year we will be forming an Intermediate Orchestra to which students from the school will graduate, and those that are good enough will eventually have the option to move up to the Pro Musica Youth Orchestra. Some of the outstanding members of the Youth Orchestra will also be able to teach the intermediate pupils, thus further widening their experience.

Last, but not least, I also want to let you know that we have incorporated the violin teaching that we undertake in Mexiquito orphanage into the Music School, as we believe that this will give the boys a more mainstream experience and the benefit of rubbing shoulders with their peers.

All of these multifarious activities are funded solely by you, our incredibly generous Patron Members. As well as supporting these Education Outreach programs through your membership subscriptions, more and more of you are contributing directly to the programs, either by way of cash or gifts in kind. Keep them coming and know that you are making a tremendous contribution to the well being of our precious community in San Miguel!

 

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