The Kawartha Youth Orchestra is running a new after-school program called Optimistic! Downtown, which will provide a free and high quality learning environment for children who would not normally have access to music education.
Upbeat will be held at All Saints Anglican Church on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 pm to 5:30 pm This inaugural KYO program will begin in September and run through June.
Eight and nine year old children are welcome to apply. Thirty students will be selected based on factors such as financial need, attendance at nearby schools and teacher credentials.
Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis until the limit of thirty students is reached, with an active waiting list for all other applicants.
KYO’s new program was funded by a seed grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and will provide underprivileged students with a fully funded educational opportunity.
“We’re not just trying to teach kids to play music,” said Alexander Cannon, KYO’s new artistic director, who will lead this program.
The program will include not only music instruction, but also personal development exercises, guest appearances from community members, and collaborative bonding activities.
“Through this program, we want to help foster students’ creativity and provide them with a safe space to explore, learn from each other, and develop important personal skills. We see this as a positive step for our organization as a whole. “
As Cannon shared, Upbeat took note of a similar program operating across the country under the El Sistema organization.
In 1975, Venezuelan musician Jose Antonio Abreu started a publicly funded music program for young people, which emphasized the importance of advancing social change – a goal KYO shares with Upbeat.
“Music has always been a way of life for me,” said Cannon, a PhD student in music at the University of British Columbia, who has played the trumpet in orchestras around the world.
The upbringing of Cannon, with two parents who were also musicians, cultivated in him from an early age the same passion that KYO seeks to do with the Upbeat program.
“I think music provides a form of connection between people that is necessary, but often absent from our daily lives,” he said.
Cannon, who currently resides in Kitchener, will relocate to Peterborough to assume his leadership role in the program.
Since 2006, KYO has been registered as a non-profit organization that seeks to provide accessible music education to elementary school children who might not otherwise have the opportunity.
The orchestra conducted its Spring Notes Virtual Concert on June 6 earlier this year.