Making Sonoma Valley proud: Valley Vibes

On Saturday, March 1, the Valley Vibes Orchestras (ViVO) joined forces with hundreds of youth musicians from all over Sonoma County on the Green Music Center stage and performed a spectacular “Can Can” to a standing ovation.

ViVO is an intensive, after-school youth development program funded through the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation. Inspired by the Venezuelan community development initiative “El Sistema,” ViVO launched in February 2013 at El Verano Elementary and now reaches more than 40 children. Musicians choose to play the violin, viola, or cello in ensemble-based classes.

Our Green Center experience was the pinnacle of a year of incredible dedication and hard work by our musicians, families and teachers. Just over one year ago, these children picked up their instruments for the very first time. Daily two-hour rehearsals and monthly community concerts have since prepared our young El Verano musicians for opportunities such as this one.

We bused students and families to the center, ran races outside and enjoyed a picnic lunch on the college campus, and performed alongside renowned violinist Midori. In rehearsal, I watched as a few kids gazed at the “big kids” in awe, mouths open. During “Can Can,” our young musicians were overwhelmed with pure joy and caught up in the energy of the moment as the sound pulled them in.

Our elementary students could have been easily overwhelmed by any one particular part of the experience – the hundreds seated in the audience, the prestige of the concert venue, a new conductor, a drastic change in acoustics, or the number of kids playing with them. Instead, many showed no signs of nervousness. They rose to the occasion and we shared in a moment of beauty.

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