Strings for Schools, the premier non-profit music education resource for schools on the East Coast, will hold its Spring Benefit Concert "Celebrating Music 2003" with a gathering of six nationally recognized jazz artists at the Four Seasons Hotel on April 4, 2003. Under the musical direction of Philadelphia born jazz violinist, John Blake, Jr., the concert will feature a trio of jazz violinists Diane Monroe, Regina Carter and John Blake. This all-star trio will be joined by Kenny Barron, Avery Sharpe and Winard Harper playing piano, bass and drums, respectively. In addition, student musicians from Philadelphia area schools, our future stars in the music world, will be part of the event, entertaining guests during dinner. Ukee Washington, Philadelphia native and co-anchor of KYW Eyewitness News, will host the event. All funds raised during this single major event for the 29 year old non-profit organization will be applied to the Strings for Schools’ "Adventures in Great Music" education concerts, workshops, and community concerts, currently being performed by almost 100 of Philadelphia’s top professional musicians who are on the Strings for Schools roster. The evening will begin at 6:00 pm with cocktails and dinner, followed by the concert at 8PM. A meet-the artists dessert reception will follow the concert. All-inclusive tickets for the cocktails, dinner, concert and reception are $150 per person. A limited number of concert only tickets are available at $35 per person. Tickets can be reserved on-line at www.stringsforschools.org or a check, can be sent to Strings for Schools, 2001 Market Street, Suite 3100, Philadelphia, PA 19103-7044. For additional questions, please call Dierdre Woody, Program Coordinator, at 215-829-9522. The Philadelphia Music Project, an initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts, is the major financial supporter of this event. In addition to the April 4th concert, PMP is also sponsoring a student workshop on April 4, and a community concert on April 5, both at Abington Friends School in Jenkintown, featuring the same six jazz performers. The Abington Friends Community Concert will also include the talented young musicians of the Philadelphia Young Artists Orchester, a companion ensemble to the Philadelphia Youth Orchetra, under the direction of Louis Scaglione. Tickets can be reserved at www.stringsforschools.org or by check to the above address. "This grant allows us an opportunity to express our mission of music education in a powerful way. It enables us to combine two of our ensemble leaders and jazz violinists, John Blake Jr. and Diane Monroe, with four other nationally recognized stars in jazz. John has been our jazz program leader for ten years, and Diane is our Global Violin program leader. Both John and Diane are Philadelphia artists, and exemplify the high artistic level of our Strings for Schools musicians," says Welthie Fitzgerald, Executive Director and co-founder of Strings for Schools.
Strings for Schools Bio
In 1974 Strings for Schools was founded by four women musicians from Main Line Philadelphia who recognized a need in the school system for a broader level of music education. In that first year, the string quartet performed 20 in-school classical music programs. Not long after, the group added jazz and classic popular quartet ensembles and expanded its outreach programs to encompass the five county area of the Delaware Valley. That remained constant for the next 25 years. As Strings for Schools entered the year 2000, however, the organization recognized the need to expand into a full range of instrumentation and multicultural musical offerings, reflecting Philadelphia’s connection with the rest of the world’s cultures and wonderful musical diversity. The new Strings for Schools catapulted from an average of 150 to 200 performances per year to 556 during the 2001-2002 school year, outreaching to over 80,000 young people. Today, the group offers 34 different programs, from "Strings ‘Round the World" to "African Drums, Percussions and Dance" all through the services of almost 100 of Philadelphia’s top professional musicians.
John Blake Jr. is a world-renowned jazz violinist, Philadelphia native, and has been on the Strings for Schools roster since 1990. In addition to playing with his own quartet and as a solo artist, he has performed with Grover Washington Junior, The Duke Ellington Orchestra, and the Billy Taylor Trio. Mr. Blake has augmented his work as an instrumentalist, composer and producer by becoming an author, teacher and lecturer. He presents hundreds of workshops annually to musicians on all levels. Blake has studied at Settlement Music School, West Virginia University, and the Institute for Advanced Studies in Montreux, Switzerland. He is a faculty member at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City.
Diane Monroe is a violinist whose versatility and expressive artistry consistently bring both classical and jazz audiences to their feet. Critics here and abroad warmly praise her ability to interpret and communicate varying styles and periods in both European classical and American jazz traditions. Monroe has shared the stage with such legendary performers as Arnold Steinhardt, Isaac Stern, Itzhak Perlman, Midori, Ani and Ida Kavafian and Mark O’Connor. Monroe performed at the very first Fiddlefest, at Carnegie Hall, and appeared in the movie ‘Music of the Heart’ with Meryl Streep. She has studied at the Curtis Institute of Music, Oberlin Conservatory, University of the Arts, and Michigan State University.
Regina Carter combines exciting technical proficiency and improvisation with an aggressive approach to her instrument, adding multicultural influences. Her playing is melodic, yet percussive. Carter demonstrates the violinist's eagerness to explore musical combinations and contexts both familiar and unexpected. Most recently, Carter was featured on CBS 60 minutes, who proclaimed her as the hottest name in jazz in the country. A Detroit native, Carter has studied classical and jazz at the New England Conservatory and Oakland University in Michigan, and has performed with musicians as diverse as Marcus Belgrave, Wynton Marsalis, Oliver Lake, Mary J. Blige, Max Roach, the Uptown String Quartet, and the String Trio of New York.