"Musicians are naturals for embodying citizenship, but sometimes, truthfully, we need to be reminded. After all, orchestra auditions and competitions transfix us while reviews send our spirits soaring or plummeting. Who has time to worry about citizenship when the industry is so jealous of every hour of our practice time?
I also well remember how I kept my volunteer work in a men’s prison outside of Detroit hush hush as a student, concerned that I would not be deemed a “serious” musician. When I did tell colleagues about meeting with inmates to talk about my favorite composers, past and present, and their urgency to create music, instead of being ridiculed, I found kindred spirits who lustily cheered... What an amazing moment of realization that was! I newly learned that there is a hunger among musicians for relevance beyond the concert hall. Really, who better than artists to address that awful sort of benign neglect, that insidious censorship of voices, that happens in communities with limited access to creativity and self-expression?"
— Gabriela Lena Frank
The Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music demonstrates its commitment to citizenship in multiple ways:
1. Through the power of video, relating the diverse stories of our performers and composers as well as teachings from the Academy.
2. Connecting visiting musicians to the local rural community via such institutions as the Anderson Valley Adult Education School, the Anderson Valley High School, and the Anderson Valley Grange.
3. Providing opportunities for composer fellows to directly witness and participate in outreach activities. Furthermore, master classes are conducted to help composer fellows strategize citizenship connections unique to their own communities.
In the spring of 2017, the Academy began a relationship with the Anderson Valley Adult School with Gabriela volunteer-teaching a Music Appreciation 101 course where community member students enjoyed visits from Academy faculty guests and composer fellows (Read this blog entry for a description, and watch this video and this video for what are likely the first performances ever of Luciano Berio and John Zorn in Boonville). In addition, the Academy began working with the Anderson Valley High School's fledgling Music Productions class. A rural school with a large Latino population that has little access to the arts, students learned to read and write using music freeware, and were given readings of their string quartets by the award-winning San Francisco based Del Sol Quartet.
In 2018, the relationship with Anderson Valley High School continued as the Music Productions class fielded visits from 26 Academy composers from all over the world who shared their stories. The Chiara String Quartet and the Del Sol String Quartet workshopped original string quartet compositions for the newly formed collective "Companther Composers" (Composer "Panthers," the mascot of Anderson Valley High) that culminated in 17 world premieres by the Del Sol String Quartet in an evening concert in the school cafeteria to a completely packed house. (Please check back for videos soon!)