At 13 years old, jazz pianist Joey Alexander was already a seasoned touring professional and a two-time Grammy nominee (now a Grammy winner). He played to a sold-out audience at his Irvine Barclay Theatre debut, but the real fun began the very next morning. The Barclay’s ArtsReach brought 300 IUSD middle school students to the theater to see if Joey could ignite some creative sparks. It was a smashing success!
A few students seemed apprehensive about whether they would like jazz, but they listened intently. Heads started to bob and feet to tap when the students recognized the melodies of When You Wish Upon a Star and Amazing Grace. For many, it was a first introduction to this art form and the familiar songs presented in jazz renditions were big hits. After the set, the students peppered Joey and his trio with questions that helped them to understand the world of jazz and professional musicianship. What a morning!
Joey Alexander’s visit to the Barclay is just one example of how ArtsReach enriches the lives of students in the community. This season the Barclay is significantly expanding its acclaimed programming to give more students the opportunity to learn and grow at the theatre and in their own classrooms.
With ArtsReach, the Barclay creates eclectic, intimate experiences that instill strong, lasting impressions. The powerful, interactive programs reach students at pivotal times in their development, providing education and inspiration in easily accessible and enjoyable formats. This is important because studies show that experiences like this can provide youngsters with a wide variety of developmental, educational and psychosocial benefits.
Stressing hands-on interaction with professional artists and access to meaningful performances, ArtsReach activities include Q&A’s, master classes, in-school workshops, behind-the-scenes tours, artist interviews and family days. Yo-Yo Ma, JazzReach, Savion Glover, Lila Downs, and Mark Morris Dance Group are among the many renowned artists who have participated.
ArtsReach activities are also designed to provide positive, creative role models by featuring artists from various ethnic, cultural and geographic backgrounds. This encourages the development of an open-minded and culturally tolerant appreciation of the performing arts and, in turn, of one another.
The Barclay’s board of directors and staff are committed to ArtsReach’s primary goal of providing community students with transformative arts experiences. The expanded 2017-18 activities will deepen the theater’s community impact, engaging and educating a broader socio-economic and ethnic demographic in the language of the arts and inspiring cultural intelligence to foster a stronger community, a kinder, more productive world, and a brighter future for everyone.