Flower City student musicians set to bloom at Lilac Festival on Friday

 NOTE: This article first appeared in the Democrat and Chronicle. Due to a D & C server change, the pictures are missing.

• May 15, 2013

On Friday, Lilac Festival goers will be treated to a musical first.

From 11:00 AM- 3:00 PM, over 500 RCSD students, including about 350 from the School of the Arts, will showcase their talents at the inaugural presentation of BLOOMIN’ ARTS… The City Schools Blossom at the Lilac Festival. Under SOTA’s leadership, BLOOMIN’ ARTS is district-wide initiative to provide public entertainment from the arts programs that thrive throughout city schools.

BLOOMIN’ ARTS would not be possible without the vision and hard work of SOTA Vice Principal Alan Tirre. From the beginning, Festival producers warmly embraced Tirre’s non-traditional concept of merging performers from different age levels and schools. Soon, the idea attracted music departments from all corners of the city. Fundamentally, Tirre sees the project as an outreach opportunity for elementary school kids to be inspired by older SOTA students who have chosen music as their academic major (and, in some cases, life calling.) In addition, the shows will publically demonstrate Superintendent Vargas’s interest in fully supporting arts education. For good reason, Tirre envisions BLOOMIN’ ARTS as an annual Lilac Festival staple.

Maybe no one is more passionate about arts education that John Gabriele, SOTA music teacher and choir director.

First of all, Gabriele believes the arts are a universal language—transcending differences of race and class—allowing us to communicate with others on a level of beauty and emotion. On the educational side, the arts strengthen academic performance by developing the whole brain, providing opportunities for independent thinking and forums for collaboration. Ultimately, art is a life time endeavor

Furthermore, for a district struggling with absenteeism, the arts have practical value. As Gabriele says, “For many students, their arts experience is the highlight of their school day and give them a reason to come to school.” And, in sometimes turbulent environments, “arts bring people together in positive ways and give students a way to express themselves.” Just as some students find an outlet in sports, the arts classroom can also be a haven.

So on Friday while enjoying the shows, reflect upon an education without music.

The list of performers includes:

• The RCSD All City Elementary Concert Band under the direction of Paul Van Epps, Teacher at School #33. This band is comprised of some of the finest student musicians from many different elementary schools in the Rochester City School District.

• School 17’s String Song is a group of students in grades three through eight who participate in strings and chorus at Enrico Fermi School No. 17. Led by Marisa DeMario and Liz Hanan, String Song has performed throughout Rochester including the WXXI Holiday Special, Liberty Pole Tree Lighting, City Hall and more.

• The George Mather Forbes School #4 Intermediate Choir is composed of 80 students in grades four through eight. Directed by Rachel Dobbs the Intermediate Choir rehearses weekly. In addition to performing for their own school programs and concerts, they have also been featured on WXXI’s CityWise Holiday Special, and at the School Choice Expo.

• The School of the Arts’ Music, Dance and Drama Departments will present material from their 2012-2013 performance season. SOTA’s student have performed with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the Hochstein School, The Rochester Oratorio Society, The Rochester International Jazz Festival, Geva Theatre, Garth Fagan Dance and the Heritage Music Festival to name a few.

• RED INC is a local Rock band featuring the talents of School of the Arts graduates and current students who perform in various local venues including the Water Street Music Hall.