This spring, The People’s Music School was invited by JAM Productions to have eight of our best high school aged violinists perform with YouTube sensations The Piano Guys at The Chicago Theater.
We began by selecting our top violinists from both the Uptown Academy and the Youth Orchestras, Albany Park programs. Our students Adilene Alday, Alexa Bucio, Sheila Esquivel, Jessica Esteves, Quynh-Mai Le, Christian Luciano, Marycarmen Luna, and Melanie Moran were given the music for Beethoven’s 5 Secrets in the summer. Not only did they have to start to learn how to play this music on their own, they also had to memorize their parts since no music stands would be allowed on stage.
Once classes resumed for the fall at The People’s Music School these students began to intensively practice this music with the guidance of their private and sectional instructors. We also held special rehearsals so that students could practice playing together and be prepared for the experience of performing on stage at such a prestigious venue. We knew that they would only have one rehearsal with The Piano Guys just before the concert, so it was especially important that our students were well prepared. Many thanks to our students’ families who brought them in for these extra rehearsals and faculty members Ben Bolter, Stephane Collopy, and Terrance Gray for helping get our students performance ready.
Students arrive outside of The Chicago Theater
On Friday, October 17th, 2014 our students, families, and staff arrived at The Chicago Theater, and from the moment we arrived they treated our students like professionals. Students were given all access passes and tickets, ushered backstage to the green room, given snacks and drinks, and had a chance to relax before the sound check.
All access pass and ticket to the show
Imagine how exciting it was for our students to be the only people in the theater as Jon Schmidt (pianist) and Steven Sharp Nelson (cellist) rehearsed their music during sound check. Students finally got to meet Jon and Steven, and then the dress rehearsal was underway
Students on stage at dress rehearsal
Our students, families, and staff were also able to participate in The Chicago Theater tradition of signing their names on the walls backstage next to the likes of famous performers like Eddie Vedder, Teddy Pendergrass, y Tammy Wynette.
Carolyn Sybesma, Director of Community Programs, adds her name to our signature wall
As our students began their last minute warm-ups and tuning in the green room, it finally began to sink in that in just minutes they would be on stage with world famous musicians performing in front of a sold out audience of 3,500 people.
Last minute warm-up in the green room
Our students nervously waited off stage, the music for Beethoven’s 5 Secrets began, they heard their cue, found their places on stage, the lights came up, and THEY WERE AMAZING!!! Hear our students’ performance here.
The received a huge round of applause from the packed audience, and then Steven was kind enough to acknowledge them and The People’s Music School on stage after they played. After their fantastic performance our students were given another surprise when they each received posters autographed by all of The Piano Guys and were the first people who were able to take a picture with them after the concert at the performer’s meet and greet event.
Students with signed posters
Proud families backstage with The Piano Guys
This was such a special opportunity for our young musicians, and we are incredibly grateful to JAM Productions and The Piano Guys for making this a wonderful experience for them and their families.
Christian, Quynh-Mai, Alexa, Melanie, Jessica, Marycarmen, Adilene, and Sheila posing with The Piano Guys backstage at the meet and greet
– Natalie Butler, Uptown Academy Director