Friday, November 15, 2013

Hope Alive! An Unusual Partnership: A School District, Church, and Presbytery

A passion to nurture and inspire young minds by providing them with excellent music education during their middle and high school years is what a public school district, a presbytery, and a church found they had in common. Hope Alive is the name of the benefit concert that they've been coming together to organize for the last few years now. It is an unusual benefit concert, I learned, when I attended the 2013 concert a few weeks ago. Grammy nominated percussionists Sheila E., along with her father Pete Escuvedo, and his son Peter Michael Escuvedo, performed with several students and groups from New Hope Presbyterian Church and 2 schools in the Santa Ana Unified School District who all come together as the Hope Alive Youth Orchestra and Choir.  Funds raised from the concert pay for the salary of a music teacher at the middle school (Willard Intermediate) and rental fees for instruments for the student scholarships (Willard and Santa Ana High).
I was also privileged to be a part of the pre-concert Meet and Greet with the artists and met Pete Escuvedo and his son Peter Michael. Sheila E was running a little late and so I was not able to meet her. The concert opened with the new drumline from Willard Intermediate. Later, we learned that the drumline was started just last year. The new middle school Principal wanted one! What a treat it was to see the drums come marching in! As usual, the littlest kid was carrying the largest drum :). Then, the world-famous artists played with the Santa Ana High School Jazz Band, the Hope Alive String Ensemble, and the New Hope Community Youth and Adult Choirs. It was a well-crafted program hosted by Peter Michael Escuvedo. The invocation was given by the Rev. Dr. Don Oliver and then the New Hope Choir led us in the singing of the National Anthem. The performance pieces blended different rhythmic forms found within gospel, latin jazz, pop, smooth jazz and rhythm and blues (Pick Up the Pieces, Libertango, Lovely Day, Chameleon, Oye Como Va, Hope Alive Medley featuring hits from Earth, Wind & Fire, Gloria Estefan and Stevie Wonder and One Note Samba). Oye Como Va, apparently a signature piece of Pete was, for me, one of the most exciting in the repertoire although the final selection featuring Sheila E and Pete Escuvedo One Note Samba got everybody dancing in the aisles. Santa Ana High School's Bill Medley Auditorium provided the perfect acoustic space for the wildly throbbing drums and spectacular sounds of the various musicians. When the music was over, it was a surreal experience to hear the Principals of the two schools and the Superintendent of the School District repeatedly thank the church for the partnership. This is community in Christ. I am so glad that two of God's greatest gifts to us - school and church - are able to work together so well. In this instance this unusual collaboration is helping our young children in not so privileged neighborhoods to become the people God created them to be.

Bravo to the six music leaders who had this one unified vision: Reggie Goodjoin (Music Director, New Hope),  Lesa Terry (Music Director, String Section), Victor de los Santos (Music Director, Brass Section), Joseph Kaye (Music Direcotr, String Section), Joan Hall (Choir Director), and Ammy Beltran (Choir and Drumline Director). Bravo New Hope led by Pastor Chineta Goodjoin and her team! Bravo Los Ranchos Presbytery led by Pastor Steve Yamaguchi, Tom Cramer and many, many others! Bravo Santa Ana Unified School District leaders Dr. Audrey Yamagata-Noji (Clerk, School Board), Julie Infante (Principal of Santa Ana High) and Lisa Hinshaw (Principal of Willard). Bravo to Sheila E and the rest of her family for coming alongside Hope Alive! God bless you all as you help to bring in His kingdom! More pictures are available on Facebook.

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