Park City Institute aims to strengthen its student outreach programming
Chicago original drummer Danny Seraphine will help Park City Institute make a pact with local students when it holds an outreach session with the Park City High School varsity jazz group during school hours on Tuesday.
“It helps the Park City Institute deliver on the promises of our mission, which is to ‘entertain, educate and enlighten’,” said Ari Ioannides, executive director of the Park City Institute. “While educating students has always been a big part of this, I don’t think we’ve really done fully what we can do. “
When Ioannides took over as head of the Park City Institute in March 2020, he made these awareness sessions a top priority.
“Before we send someone a contract, we ask them in advance if they have a student outreach component,” he said. “If they do, we ask what it looks like and then we put it in the hopper.”
The second thing the Park City Institute does is write and send a full report regarding these outreach programs to the Park City School District, according to Ioannides.
“We know teachers are busy, but we want to see if they have time to fit these programs into their schedules,” he said. “This year, teachers have signed most, if not all of them.”
In addition to the Seraphine session, which will conclude with a free performance by the Jazz Band on Tuesday night, other outreach programs will include Second City working with the theater class, Dance Theater of Harlem working with the dance class, an assembly for the whole school with astronaut Terry Virts and So Percussion’s performance with students on stage, said Ioannides.
“This is a great list of people who we believe can help change the lives of students,” he said.
Chris Taylor, group director at Park City High School, said the workshops were priceless.
“Imagine that an artist like Danny would be willing to take the time to talk with children about what it takes to be a professional musician and to show the art and art of playing music for a living.” Taylor said. “Yes, we can get the students to play to a certain level, and they can play really well, but it’s really special for them when someone like Danny comes in and connects the dots between him, them and the music. . You see the impact this has on the lives of the students and it helps them reach their next level of achievement.
Tuesday’s workshop will feature a variety of music, according to Taylor.
“We’re going to do some tunes that we have in our book, and I also had the kids teach the Chicago classics,” he said.
Since the opening of the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts in 1998, the Park City Institute, originally called the Park City Performing Arts Foundation, has run student outreach programs that included the late jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson and conductor Latin jazz band Bobby Rodriguez and Hispanic musicians. Salsa Jazz Orchestra of the Association to work with Taylor students.
“Sometimes wanting to attend these workshops is selfish for me, to be honest,” Taylor said. “With Danny, I know what Chicago has done as an influence on me, and I’m super excited that an original member of this band is coming to our school to talk about music. If you can use music like the stuff from Chicago to bring them to Miles Davis, Count Basie and Duke Ellington, so much the better.
Ioannides recalls experiencing similar student outreach programs when he was in high school.
“I saw Count Basie’s group and Maynard Fergusen’s group and also met (playwright) Tennessee Williams on a trip to the theater,” he said. “I think it’s one of the coolest things to give some of these types of experiences to our students who live in this little mountain town and, maybe, change their lives. And I think we’re doing a better job than we’ve ever done.
While these outreach programs benefit students, they sometimes amount to an additional performance for each of these artists, Ioannides said.
“They require additional funding, and most of these artists and organizations charge minimal fees,” he said. “So if anyone wants to engage with them and help us offset the costs, please contact us.”