Press Release: Musician Citizen Concert 2018

Press Release: On Saturday, May 12, 2018, the American Youth Symphony closes its 2017/18 Season with a Performance Championing Support for the Homeless

As part of its “Citizen Musician” initiative, AYS performs a concert at the Moss Theater in Santa Monica, featuring music from composers who were homeless themselves, alongside works by Vivaldi, whose work as both a composer and a priest holds a surprising connection to the theme of the event.

Saturday, May 12, 2018, 3:00 pm
Anne & Jerry Moss Theater At the Herb Alpert Educational Village
At The New Roads School

FREE Concert

Shared as part of Peter Mandell & Sarah Coade Mandell’s Hardly Strictly Classical
Concert Series

(Los Angeles, CA, May 1, 2018) – On Saturday, May 12 at 3pm, the American Youth Symphony (AYS) will present a concert at the Ann & Jerry Moss Theatre with a program specially curated by AYS Citizen Musician Fellow, Spencer Baldwin, to champion support for our local Los Angeles homeless population.

Each work featured on the program holds a deep connection to the issue of homelessness, including a newly added opening song, Beautiful City, presented in collaboration with Urban Voices Project, a choir made up of current and former residents of Skid Row.

Of the composers featured, musical maverick Harry Partch dropped out of USC in 1922 and spent decades building his own instruments and composing in microtonal scales, while traveling the country as a transient worker. “Moondog” Louis Hardin, whose fans included Philip Glass and former-NY Philharmonic conductor Artur Rodziński, performed on the streets of New York City from the 1940s-70s, wearing a cloak and horned helmet, known to locals as “the Viking of 6th Avenue.”  Antonio Vivaldi, a Catholic priest as well as a composer, served from 1703-1740 as a music instructor at the Ospedale della Pieta, a Venetian orphanage known across Europe for presenting extraordinary musical performances.

Inspired by the theme of this event, AYS Bassist Mark Gutierrez has composed and will perform an original work of rhythmic poetry, set to a classical/hip-hop fusion of selections from the overture for Vivaldi’s 1733 opera Montezuma, arranged for strings and percussion.

Together, these inspiring works prove that great art can come from unlikely places, and that music can sustain and uplift us during dark and challenging times.

The idea for this unique performance originated last Fall, when the AYS Musicians Committee selected homelessness as the cause they most wanted to uplift this year. 2017/18 has been the inaugural season for the “Citizen Musician” Fellowship —  inspired and supported by a similar program developed by Yo-Yo Ma at the Civic Orchestra of Chicago — teaching leadership in the use of classical music to transform lives and build community. Citizen Musicianship aims to bridge the gap between so-called high art and community art, and in the words of Yo-Yo Ma “transcend technique in order to seek out the truths in our world in a way that gives meaning and sustenance to individuals and communities.” In this spirit, Spencer led the process of researching and selecting a cause, then travelled to Chicago to spend a week with Civic, learning from their work and experience in artistic community activism.

Both the Citizen Musician Concert and Fellowship are supported by Peter Mandell and Sarah Coade Mandell. Respectively members of the AYS Board of Directors and Advisory Council, Peter and Sarah are the founders of the “Hardly Strictly Classical” concert series, through which this performance is shared. They are also the sponsors of the Citizen Musician Fellowship, along with the Orchestra Management and Concertmaster Fellowships, all of which were new initiatives this season.

While the May 12th concert serves as the capstone for this year’s Citizen Musician Fellowship, the work doesn’t end there. In LA County, 150,000 people experience homelessness every year, and in 2017, the number of chronically homeless individuals surged 23% above the year before, to a staggering 58,000. In the midst of this growing crisis there is no easy solution, but there are plenty of opportunities to get involved. AYS has partnered with a number of local organizations, including Upward Bound House and Union Rescue Mission, creating pathways for musicians, staff and donors to volunteer and contribute to the vital work of providing for those in-need.

Concert tickets are free and seating is limited. You can reserve online, or by phone at 310-470-2332.

About Spencer Baldwin, Citizen Musician Fellow

Spencer Baldwin holds a Bachelor’s in Music from the University of Redlands and a Master’s in Music from Azusa Pacific University.  He did additional undergraduate work at the Conservatorium Van Amsterdam under the tutelage of Peter Stotijn. His principal teachers have included Tim Emmons, Tim Eckert, Nico Abondolo, David Murray, and Dr. Matt Hare.

Spencer is currently the Principal Bassist with the American Youth Symphony and a section member with the Redlands Symphony. In 2017, he was named Program Director for MUSICA!, an El Sistema based string program located in San Jacinto, CA, and in October 2017 he won the AYS Musician Citizen Fellowship.

Spencer was tasked with working alongside the AYS Musicians Committee to select a cause to inspire the programming for the 2018 Members Priority Concert, and in January of this year, AYS sent Spencer to Chicago to study with the Civic Orchestra’s Citizen Musician Program.

About American Youth Symphony

Heralded as “the finest youth symphony on earth,” by KUSC’s Jim Svejda, the American Youth Symphony has been fulfilling its mission to inspire the future of classical music for over 50 years. AYS presents exceptional, innovative concerts based on a landmark Fellowship program for young professional musicians in high school through doctoral music programs. Competitively selected, the 100-piece orchestra represents extraordinary talent from all over the world. AYS concerts are shared for free or significantly reduced admission. By gifting the community with remarkable performances at world-class venues, the American Youth Symphony remains committed to creating access and opportunity for everyone to experience the power and inspiration of this beautiful art form. https://aysymphonyorg.dream.press/

Community Partners

Urban Voices Project brings the healing power of music directly to individuals disenfranchised by homelessness, mental health issues and unemployment. Community singing and music education combine to provide practical opportunities for individuals to transcend their current circumstances and participate in a creative program of positive change. Composed of artists and performers from the Skid Row neighborhood in Downtown Los Angeles, this project is presented by The Colburn School and John Wesley Health Centers (JWCH Institute) to bring music, health & well-being, and community to one of the largest homeless neighborhoods in the United States.

Upward Bound House provides homeless families with housing and supportive services to suit their specific needs. Their programs are designed to empower homeless parents and their children to obtain housing stability, build healthy relationships, and enjoy emotional and financial well-being . A team of professional staff offers an array of services in housing, employment and evidence-based, trauma-informed care to over 200 families annually. They provide program services in Santa Monica, Culver City, Compton and South Los Angeles.

Union Rescue Mission is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, established in 1891. Today, they are one of the largest rescue missions of their kind in the United States, and the oldest in Los Angeles. With the utmost respect, they welcome guests in and provide a place where they can feel safe and cared for. They offer hope and healing, and by honoring each person’s value and worth, Union Rescue Mission affirms their dignity.


American Youth Symphony “Home” 2018 Citizen Musician Concert
Saturday, May 12, 2018, 3:00 pm

STEPHEN SCHWARTZ: Beautiful City from Godspell, featuring Urban Voices Project
 Two Studies on Ancient Greek Scales
“MOONDOG” LOUIS HARDIN: String Quartet in C Major, Mvt. 2 Romance
VIVALDI: L’estro Armonico, Op. 3, Concertos No. 1, 3, 6, and 11
VIVALDI: Concerto No. 1 “Spring” from The Four Seasons 

Ann & Jerry Moss Theater
At the Herb Alpert Educational Village at New Roads School
3131 Olympic Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404

Concert tickets are free and seating is limited.

Social Media

Instagram and Twitter: @aysymphony

Press Contacts

Alice Dutton, alice.dutton@aysymphonyorg.dream.press, 310-470-2332


American Youth Symphony