It is fall here along the Wasatch front--and what a spectacular show we have had here in our new home, in a very new landscape. We have been so thrilled to find that Salt Lake City has no shortage of fantastic arts opportunities and organizations to choose from. The vast availability of family-friendly programming has also been impressive and fun to explore with our son.
In August, thanks to being in the right coffee shop at the right time, I was introduced to Victoria Petro-Eschler and Nathaniel Eschler, respectively the Executive Director and Artistic Director of Salty Cricket Composers Collective. Their passion for new music and for developing the future generation of musicians was immediately infectious and I was ready to walk on fire for them and their work in this community. This wife and husband duo bring past experience on the east coast for building and leading El Sistema inspired afterschool programming for students from under-served communities. Since moving here two years ago, Nathaniel (a composer) and Victoria (a musician with a music therapy, musicology, and administrative background) have picked up where they left off and have partnered with Salty Cricket to develop a community education arm within the existing eight year old organization.
If you haven't heard about El Sistema and the force it has become for social change over the last 30 years, check out this profile on founder Jose Antonio Abreu's Ted Talk. Like what you see? Want to dig further? Then I encourage you to view the new documentary by Jamie Bernstein called Crescendo: The Power of Music which follows two East Coast Sistema programs that have experienced exponential growth-and for very good reasons! You will laugh, you will cry, and you will want to host a screening at the theater and do a fundraiser for these awesome human beings.
I look forward to helping bring my experience to the board of Salty Cricket and help support them as they get this new community change project off the ground. I hope my time at Minnesota Opera, working in schools and developing an El Sistema inspired program for the operatic artform will give them helpful ideas and insight. In the meantime, Salty Cricket's GraceNotes program is off and running at Jackson Elementary on the West side of SLC, with nearly 30 students participating in it's launch in October. The future is very bright for these enthusiastic students.
Want to know more about the work of Salty Cricket? Interested in sponsoring one of the young musicians in the GraceNotes program so a student has a free, safe, music-filled place to go during afterschool hours? Let's have coffee and talk about how you might like to be involved. Or, you can simply head over to Salty Cricket and share what you can. Every bit makes a difference. As Victoria said, "Give me $5, I'll turn it into $10!" And she will.
Warm and grateful wishes!