MONTPELIER — Thirty-nine teachers from 15 schools in nine communities around Vermont are involved in an ambitious and creative enterprise involving world-renowned jazz guitarist John Jorgenson. The year-long, multi-disciplinary, cross-curricular project will culminate in April when Jorgenson - who has played with such diverse musicians as Earl Scruggs, Luciano Pavarotti and Bonnie Raitt - performs at four community concerts in April in Stowe, Barre, Randolph and Brattleboro.
Empowered by their classroom teachers and teaching artists who began working with Jorgenson when he came to Vermont for a project initiated by the Vermont Creative Schools Initiative, students have spent the year exploring questions: What if kids were in charge? What does it mean to belong? What does "equality for all" mean in the place where we live?
Fourth grade students in Windham Central Supervisory Union have been part of a year-long partnership with the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center looking at the work of Jacob Lawrence and Robert Rauschenberg and making connections to the exhibits of contemporary art at the museum. Kids from NewBrook, Townshend, Windham and Dover Elementary listened to recordings of John Jorgenson's quintet and were inspired to create collages that will be on display in the theater during the concert. They also decorated large cut-out guitars that will be part of the set design.
The Vermont Creative Schools Initiative is a program run by the Montpelier-based Community Engagement Lab, which has been running such programs for several years. Last year, the CEL brought superstar percussionist Evelyn Glennie to the state, to work with teachers and to perform with students.
The Jorgenson concert is at the Latchis Theater on April 9 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $25, $15 for students and seniors. For more information visit CommunityEngagementLab.org. There will be a reception celebrating the young artists following the show.
The John Jorgenson Quintet will also perform at the the Barre Opera House on April 6 (along with the string orchestra from U32 High School), The
Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center in Stowe on April 7 (showcasing work from Stowe and Waterbury students) at the Chandler Center for the Arts on April 8 (showcasing work from Randolph high school) and at the Latchis Theater on April 9 (highlighting work from seven schools in the Brattleboro area).
The school residencies and pre-performance rehearsals with John Jorgenson offer opportunities for photos as well as video and audio broadcast. For more information, or to schedule interviews or obtain photos, please contact Marialisa Calta, Marialisa@CommunityEngagementLab.org; 802.223.8921 (home/office) or 802.272.7661 (mobile).
The Vermont-based Community Engagement Lab (CEL) provides leadership to design bold school-based projects that activate students' creativity while deepening their engagement with their community. CEL supports creative school/community partnerships across the state through programs such as the Vermont Creative Schools Initiative and the Vermont Creative Teaching Forum.
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