How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice ‚Äî and a contribution from City Council.
Santa Monica High School musicians from lower-income families will get to travel to New York City or Europe thanks to two grants from council totaling $30,000.
“We did this last year, and even thought we allocated the money, it wasn’t used, so this year it may or may not be used because a lot of it is contingent upon the financial need of some of these students going,” Mayor Pro Tempore Tony Vazquez said, “because we made it pretty clear that it’s really to assist those folks that otherwise couldn’t afford to go.”
The Samohi Madrigal Ensemble and Chamber Singers will head to Brussels, Amsterdam, and Paris along with Choir Director Jeffe Huls to play several concerts, including in the Notre Dame Cathedral. The trip will last 10 days in total.
Former PTA President and current President of the Choral Steering Committee Patti Braun, asked council to allocated $10,000 to a parent-organized nonprofit for vocal students.
“Your contribution would be used specifically to provide partial scholarships to financially challenged students, allowing an equal opportunity for participation available to all Santa Monica students regardless of income,” she said in a letter to council.
In previous years, she told council, the trip was financed through fundraising and council‚Äôs contingency money was unneeded.
“This year the need has been pretty extraordinary,” Braun said. “We‚Äôve had about $25,000 in requests for scholarships from 16 families total and we‚Äôve been working very hard to raise that money.”
Council approved the funding unanimously.
Samohi‚Äôs wind ensemble will also be traveling in April. The group will be participating in the Sounds of Spring International Music Festival and performing at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Students will perform alongside Michael Sachs, a Santa Monica High School graduate who is now a member of the Cleveland Orchestra.
About 65 students going, said Band Parent Association President Richard Krop, and the cost is about $2,000 per student. The association‚Äôs raised $30,000 of its own through fundraising but asked council to give $20,000 to support students who cannot afford to pay for any part of the trip.
The band director, who shares a name with Mayor Kevin McKeown, has plans to document the trip and share the experience with young Santa Monica students.
“Plans include a student made film that presents the history of Carnegie Hall, Central Park, Broadway, and Ellis Island, incorporating pictures of the students throughout,” Krop said in a letter to council. “He plans on inviting elementary and middle school students ‚Äî especially the incoming freshman ‚Äî to the spring Wind Ensemble pops concert, as well. We hope to show the film it at the concert.”
Councilmember Terry O‚ÄôDay suggested that they broadcast the documentary on CityTV.
“The music program has been one of the highlights of my children‚Äôs experience in Santa Monica Schools,” Krop said in the letter. “I am constantly in awe of what the students accomplish. And their accomplishments are recognized by others. The program at Carnegie Hall is built around the Santa Monica High School Wind Ensemble, who, in recognition of the well-deserved reputation of our city‚Äôs schools and their music programs, will be the featured performers in the festival.”
Council approved the grant unanimously.