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January Newsletter

Walker|West Accents & Illuminations

January 2020 Newsletter

 

Current Programs


Rondo Community Music Series Brings Down the House in Final 3 Concerts

Sax player DeSean Jones

The Rondo Community Music Series wrapped up with outstanding performances by the Kevin Washington Quintet; Robert Robinson, Debbie Duncan, and William Duncan; and DeSean Jones, pictured. Every concert drew a packed house. Thanks for coming!

We are grateful to the Harlan Boss Foundation for the Arts and the Rondo Land Trust: More Jazz on Selby Initiative for funding this concert series that focused on bringing the community together through music. And thanks to the Twist Davis Group for providing complimentary food and beverages at each performance.

 

Rave Reviews for Music for Families

The first session of this early childhood music education program was a hit with parents and children. Parents appreciated the small class size and the skill of the instructor, Ivory Doublette. Here is a sample of their feedback:

“So often toddler music classes are led by teachers who have minimal music training. This class is exceptional and stands out from the rest because Ivory is clearly a professional musician. This makes a huge difference!”

“We had a wonderful time with our one-year-old. Our instructor was fantastic and brought her joy and love of music to all of us. Thank you for the musical skills and fun learning!”

Music for Families promotes music awareness and appreciation through the various integrated arts activities based on seasonal themes. The lively class meets the varied needs of each child. Through the power of music, children develop social skills, body control, increased attention spans, and an appreciation of music.

Each 10-week session offers new themes, songs, and musical activities. Taught by Sing Play Learn with a MacPhail® music specialist.

New Sessions Begin in January

Time and Dates:
10 a.m. – 10:45 a.m., Thursdays, January 9-March 12

OR

1 p.m. – 1:45 p.m., Fridays, January 10-March 13
To register, download and complete the registration form and pay tuition online or call 651-224-2929.
Tuition assistance available!

 

The Amazing Grace Chorus


Amazing Grace ChorusEvery Thursday, members of the Amazing Grace Chorus lift their voices in song, filling the Walker|West Performance Hall with beautiful gospel music. Chorus members under the direction of Shana Moses are pictured performing at the Hallie Q. Brown Winter Tea. Musical Director Carl Clomon accompanies on piano and arranges the pieces.

Amazing Grace Chorus provides seniors with an opportunity to participate in health-promoting activities while experiencing the joy of singing together. This community chorus highlights the culture and music of African-Americans as it offers ‘music to remember.’ The chorus is open to any seniors in the community and welcomes those with Alzheimer’s/dementia or chronic disease, and their caregivers.

The chorus allows singers to give voice to their creative potential while combating the isolation many seniors experience.

 

Barack and Michelle Obama Elementary School Pilot

Babatunde Lea at Obama Elementary

Our pilot program with St. Paul’s Barack and Michelle Obama Elementary School concluded last month. After 10 weekly sessions of instruction in either keyboards or African drumming, the students performed a recital. Everyone in attendance was impressed by how much the young musicians had learned. A second 10-week session is scheduled for spring.

Digital Goes Live Pilot Program

Twice-a-week classes have resumed after winter break for students participating in this collaboration between Walker|West and St. Paul’s High School for Recording Arts (HSRA.)

Walker|West students go to HSRA for instruction in digital music and recording; HSRA students come to Walker|West to learn instrumental music and basic music theory. Both groups of students work in producer/co-producer teams at Walker|West to create music and sounds. The collaboration will help students optimize their musical experience and career options.

Minnesota State Arts Board logoWalker|West teaching artist Solomon Parham, the lead instructor in the program, works with Kevin Washington and Ernest Bisong to provide instruction for the 12 HSRA students. The students are doing well as a group, and several students are excelling.

This program is supported by a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.

 

Upcoming Programs


Free Babatunde Lea Performance January 17

Performance by Babatunde Lea Quintet

Friday, January 17, 2020
Reception: 6 p.m.
Concert: 7:30 p.m.
The concert is free, but space is limited. Please RSVP online or call 651-224-2929

Start the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday weekend with a free performance by renowned percussionist and Walker|West teaching artist Babatunde Lea. The Selby Avenue Brass Band, featuring vocalist Thomasina Petrus, will perform during the reception. And our founders, Rev. Carl Walker and Grant West will be presented with the Founders Award.

Babatunde Lea’s vast experience of almost 50 years as a master percussionist, as well as the spiritual depth and resonance he brings to everything he does, has made him one of the most esteemed musicians of the past half century. The list of JAZZ GREATS whom Babtunde has played with include Joe Henderson, Mycoy Tyner, Pharoah Sanders, Bill Summers, Lonnie Liston Smith, Buddy Williams, Ernie Watts, and Patrice Rushen.

His work has been noted for its mixture of styles and influences. Babatunde brings a spiritual jazz steeped in the African tradition … from Afro-Cuban to Afro-Brazilian to Senegalese to Nigerian, as well as straight ahead jazz.

The call to Africa that emerges from the drum, Babatunde says, is about one unifying spirit reaching a higher level of humanity … very much in theme with Martin Luther King’s message to the world.

Babatunde is a Walker|West teaching artist and Co-Founder of EduCultural Foundation, which is dedicated to providing school-age children with music and cultural education.

 

Walker|West 2nd Sundays

A Delicious Way to Support Walker|West

Grant West at the pianoThe Twist Davis Group, owners of Revival and In-Bloom restaurants, generously donates 100 percent of profits made on the second Sunday of each month to Walker|West. Please join us on Sundays, January 12, February 9 and March 8.

As an added treat, Walker|West co-founder Grand West will perform piano selections at Revival St. Paul, 525 Selby Ave., on Walker|West Second Sundays.

You can support Walker|West while enjoying a meal at any of the Twist Davis Group’s fine establishments:

Revival offers fried chicken and other classic Southern comfort foods served in a stylishly relaxed surrounding.

In Bloom is a fine dining concept featuring seasonal and wild ingredients expressed through fire. It is located on the historic grounds of the iconic Schmidt Brewery.

Thank you for helping us take full advantage of this delicious opportunity made possible through the generosity of the Twist Davis Group. We are profoundly grateful for their ongoing support.

 

Renown Conductor to Visit Walker|West February 3

Roderick Cox

The Roderick Cox Music Initiative/Film North awarded $10,000 to Walker|West to provide funding for music instruction, instrument repair and replacement, and strings summer camp opportunities to under-served youth in our strings program. Conductor Roderick Cox will visit Walker|West February 3 to meet with instructors and those strings students awarded the scholarship. The donation has been coordinated through Yvonne Cheek, a consultant and officer of the Minnesota Orchestra.

Mr. Cox understands that many students of color do not have the money or resources to have good instruments. When he first took up the French horn, he loved to play, but his horn was in such bad shape it was actually held together with duct tape. Eventually, he received a new horn from the Otis Redding Foundation.

Winner of the 2018 Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award by the U.S Solti Foundation, Roderick Cox was Associate Conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra for the 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 seasons. A Georgia native, he is now based in Berlin, and he conducts orchestras throughout Europe and North America. To learn more about Roderick Cox, watch this video.

 

Workshop with Amir ElSaffar

Trumpeter Amir ElSaffar

6 p.m., Tuesday, February 11
Walker|West Performance Hall
Free and open to the public

Iraqi-American composer and jazz trumpeter Amir ElSaffar will present a master class at 6 p.m., February 11 in the performance hall.

He will explore the rich jazz music tradition and delve into how he has used his jazz training to develop intersections with other musical traditions.  Basic jazz and music theory experience will be helpful. Music students are encouraged to attend. Please bring your instruments. Limited space available, RSVP today to confirm your spot or contact Tonya Gregory (tonya@walkerwest.org) for more information.

Mr. ElSaffar has been described as “uniquely poised to reconcile jazz and Arabic music,” (the Wire) and “one of the most promising figures in jazz today” (Chicago Tribune). He is a recipient of the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award and a 2018 US Artist Fellow. Mr. ElSaffar is in St. Paul to lead an ensemble at the the Ordway in the performance of an original work commissioned by Ragamala Dance Company.

 

Mark Your Calendar for Session 2 Recitals

6 p.m., Saturday, February 8
2 p.m., Sunday, February 9
6 p.m. Saturday, February 15: Strings Recital

Session 2 ends February 8. Recitals will be held February 8 and 9, with a separate recital February 15 for students in the strings program. Everyone is welcome to come and hear our students perform.

Session 3 begins February 10 and runs through April 25. Why not get ahead of the game and register for lessons today?

In the Community


Students Perform at the Mall of America on MLK Day

Walker|West’s Youth Jazz Ensemble will perform at the Mall of America at 2 p.m., Monday, January 20 in Northeast Court, located in the Northeast corner of the mall. Come hear these accomplished young musicians perform in celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Faculty Members Perform at Capella Towers January Wednesdays

If you are in downtown Minneapolis on a Wednesday in January over the lunch hour, come to Capella Tower, 225 South 6th St., to hear some of Walker|West’s teaching artists perform.

Performing in the tower’s three-story atrium from noon to 1 p.m. are:

January 8: Ernest Bisong, violin
January 15: Babatunde Lea, African drums
January 22: Grant West, piano
January 29: Peter Goggin, saxophone

All of our instructors are professional musicians as well as music teachers. This is an excellent opportunity to hear them perform.

 

A Shout Out to Our Alumni

Former Walker|West students may be gone, but they are never forgotten. They remain part of our community. Here’s some news on a few exceptional musicians who all got their start at Walker|West.

DeCarlo Jackson and Arlo bandmates

The Local Current Blog featured trumpter DeCarlo Jackson, pictured above with his local band Arlo. DeCarlo plays with Arlo when he’s not on tour with Hippo Campus.

Songwriter and vocalist Nikki Jean, above right,  is now signed to the Rhymesayer’s label and will be performing with Atmosphere at First Avenue January 13. It’s the first stop on their Wherever Tour of North America. (It’s been sold out for months.)

Amber Woodhouse

Nashville-based sax player and vocalist Amber Woodhouse wound up a national tour with Trigger Hippy last month that included a stop in Minneapolis.

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for updates on Walker|West alumni and much more.

A Promising Year Ahead

2020 promises to be a busy and exciting year at Walker|West. We hope you will be part of the action. We are grateful to our students, families, staff, faculty, founders, board, volunteers, community partners, and, of course, our funders and supporters. Thank you all for your part in helping Walker|West thrive.

Please consider supporting us financially. Your donation in any amount will help us continue to use the power of music to foster success, healing and joy.



 

October Newsletter

Walker|West Accents & Illuminations

October 2019 Newsletter

 

CURRENT PROGRAMS

Summer Music Camp Highlights


Young sax playerThirty 5- to 12-year olds transformed into budding musicians at Walker|West’s Summer Music Camp. In just three weeks of half-day classes, the campers learned the basics of five instruments: piano/keyboard, violin, percussion, a brass or woodwind instrument, and voice.

The program culminated with a recital during which the young musicians performed for friends and family on all five instruments. They brought the house down.

Here is what one parent had to say about the camp:

Zoe and Niko are having such a fantastic experience at camp so far. It has been so sweet to see the huge smile on Niko’s face as he plays his song on the piano for us, and I’m amazed at the way Zoe has been able to push through frustrations with being behind some of the other kids in experience. They have so many good things to say about the counselors and the program in general. We’re so grateful and glad to have found the camp!”

Though most campers are new to the program, some enjoy Summer Music Camp so much, they come back year after year.

The camp includes lunch, snacks, and plenty of time for making friends and having fun, but there is serious business taking place.Summer Music Camper

The camp encourages musical discovery and exploration while building team work, discipline, focus, and self confidence in each camper. Even if these students never pick up an instrument again, they leave camp with a sense of mastery. They’ve learned that they can try something difficult, succeed, and have fun while learning. Those are lessons that can set them up for success in all areas of life.

A reporter for Minnesota Parent Magazine visited the camp and talked with staff. The magazine plans to run a feature article on the camp in their Camp edition early in 2020.

It’s never too soon to think about Summer Music Camp 2020. Limited tuition assistance is available.

 

NEW PROGRAMS

Summer Jazz Intensive


DrummerIt’s one thing to play an instrument; it’s another thing to play jazz. From August 5 to 9th, ten students ages 12 to 18 received one-on-one and group instruction in what’s been called America’s only original art form: jazz. The Jazz Intensive program was made possible by a City of St. Paul Cultural STAR grant.

The week focused on playing together in an ensemble, improvisation, music theory, and jazz history.The culturally diverse group of students were divided into two ensembles by ability. All the instructors were prominent Twin Cities area jazz musicians. Guest artists Kevin Washington, Pete Whitman, Jordan Anderson, Anthony Cox, and Ernest Bison presented master classes.

Scholarships were available.

 

Early Childhood Music Program


Music for FamiliesWalker|West kicked off its new Music for Families program last month. A collaboration between Walker|West and Sing Play Learn with MacPhail®, the 10-week program is open to parents with children ages 0 to 4.

Taught by Ivory Doublette, a Sing Play Learn with MacPhail® music specialist, Music for Families promotes music awareness and meets the varied needs of each child. Through the power of music, children develop social skills, control, increased attention span and an appreciation of music.

The next session is tentatively scheduled to begin in early January, but you don’t have to wait. Join us for the remainder of this session, which runs through mid-November. We have two class days and times to choose from:

10 a.m. – 10:45 a.m., Thursdays through-November 14
OR
1 p.m. – 1:45 p.m., Fridays, through November 15

There are currently just five families in each class.

To register or learn more, please contact us online or call us at 651-224-2929.

 

RONDO COMMUNITY MUSIC SERIES

Ashley DuBose Concert Recap


Ashley DuboseNeo-soul, pop, and R & B vocalist Ashley DuBose kicked off the Rondo Community Music Series Friday, September 13, performing to a packed house. She debuted several unreleased songs during her two, 30-minute sets.

The performance was the first of four free concerts in the Rondo Community Music Series, made possible by the Harlan Boss Foundation for the Arts and the Rondo Community Land Trust More Jazz on Selby Initiative. Even though the event was free, we received generous contributions from guests in support of Walker|West.

The Walker|West performance hall exuded a classy new ambiance for the evening. The rows of chairs were replaced by linen-topped tables lit by electric votive candles. People began calling it “The Club.”

The evening began with a VIP reception for some of Walker|West’s long-time supporters. Guests enjoyed food and beverages courtesy of Twist Davis Group (Revival and In-Bloom restaurants), Heritage Tea House, and Dual Citizen Brewery.

Selby Ave. Brass Band at The ClubThe Selby Ave. Brass Band performed during the reception. Vocalist Thomasina Petrus captured people’s attention with her singing and expressed her devotion to Walker|West and its long history of music education. She said she agreed to perform with the band even though later that night she’d be appearing in the opening night of the play “Crowns.”

Taylor Hamilton, a Walker|West teaching artist who plays keyboards in Ms. DuBose’s band, introduced Ashley DuBose. She took the stage and proved why she has gained international recognition as a performer and recording artist.

Between sets several people gave heartfelt testimonials about Walker|West.

DeCarlo Jackson, a Walker|West alumus who now performs internationally with the group Hippo Campus, talked about how Walker|West helped him become not only a better musician but also a better human being.

After her son was murdered, Rosemary Nevils brought his children to Walker|West. She said she and her grandchildren experienced the music school as a place of healing.

Lastly, Andrea Hayden gave a memorial to her late brother Michael Hayden, who passed away in car accident. He was a musician and would have wanted to support an institution such as Walker|West. There will be an ongoing memorial donation to honor Michael.

 

The Kevin Washington Quintet Performs Sat., Oct. 26


Walker|West invites you to a free performance by the Kevin Washington Quintet at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, October 26.  A reception, with complimentary food and beverages provided by the Twist Davis Group (Revival and In-Bloom restaurants), precedes the concert at 6 p.m.

Drummer Kevin Washington

Kevin has three decades of experience as a professional musician ranging from stages in Detroit to New York to the Twin Cities in addition to being the lead drum instructor at Walker|West.  Any one who has seen Kevin play the drums knows that he is among the most versatile of jazz musicians. He is as adept at playing straight-ahead tunes as he is incorporating Afro-Latin/African rhythms or hip-hop and funk into his sets.

With Kevin’s leadership, his Quintet aims to take the music to new, contemporary heights while retaining the improvisation inherent in jazz. At the end of 2018, Kevin’s group performed a tribute to the legendary jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove, who had just passed away. Since that highly acclaimed performance, there have been several encore performances of this tribute, including one at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival. The night’s set list will include some of the Hargrove tribute pieces along with a variety of other selections.

The concert is the second of four free performances in the Rondo Community Music Series, made possible by the Harlan Boss Foundation for the Arts, and the Rondo Community Land Trust More Jazz on Selby Initiative.

Saturday, October 26
6:00 p.m., Reception; 7:30 p.m., Concert
Walker|West
760 Selby Ave., St. Paul

Free and open to the public
If you plan to attend, please call 651-224-2929 or RSVP online.

Other Series Dates in the Rondo Community Music Series

7:30 p.m, Saturday, November 16
Triple Encore Performance:
From R & B to Gospel: Robinson, Duncan & Duncan, and DP Voices
Walker|West Faculty led by Mr. Duncan

7:30 p.m., Saturday, December 7
Featured Artist:

Desean Jones of Detroit Music Factory

Upcoming Programs & Events

Digital Music Production Pilot


TLogohe Minnesota State Arts Board Arts and Learning Program has fully funded a collaborative pilot program between Walker|West and St. Paul’s High School for Recording Arts (HSRA).

The program will include six students from each institution.

Walker|West students will go to HSRA to learn digital recording and technology. HSRA students will come to Walker|West to learn instrumental music and basic music theory.  The collaboration will help students optimize their musical experience and career options. This “test and learn” program begins this month and continues for the full academic year. After the school year, the program will be evaluated and expanded.

Walker|West has long sought an opportunity to collaborate with HSRAs. We are very pleased to take part in this pilot program.

Barack & Michelle Obama Elementary School Music Enrichment Pilot


Walker|West will bring music enrichment to Barack & Michelle Obama Elementary School beginning this month. Two days a week, Walker|West co-founder Grant West will provide piano/keyboard instruction and internationally known percussionist Baba Tunde Lea will teach a percussion class to the young scholars at Obama Elementary.

Eighty percent of the students at Obama Elementary are persons of color. Minnesota Commission of Education Mary Catherine Rickers is interested in this pilot and wants us to update her department on our progress.

The anticipated outcomes for the pilot include:

  • Growth in math and language skills, and creativity
  • Improved music skills
  • Positive nonacademic skills (i.e., confidence, discipline, teamwork, and determination)
  • Positive attitudes toward school
  • Acquisition of valuable life skills, including ability to focus, self discipline, problem solving, and critical thinking skills

The 10-week session will be held during the school day at Obama Elementary, which is located just blocks from Walker|West.

Walker|West 2nd Sundays at Twist Davis Group Restaurants

A Delicious way to Support Walker|West

The Twist Davis Group kicks off Walker|West 2nd Sundays on October 13. The restaurant group will generously donate 100 percent of profits made on the second Sunday of each month to Walker|West.  Walker|West Co-founder Grant West will perform piano selections at the Revival St. Paul location Oct. 13.

Twist Davis GroupYou can support Walker|West while enjoying a meal at any of the Twist Davis Group’s fine establishments:

Revival offers fried chicken and other classic Southern comfort foods served in a stylishly relaxed surrounding.

In Bloom is a fine dining concept featuring seasonal and wild ingredients expressed through fire. It is located on the historic grounds of the iconic Schmidt Brewery.

Thank you for helping us take full advantage of this delicious opportunity made possible through the generosity of the Twist Davis Group. We are profoundly grateful for their ongoing support.

Potential Workshops with Two Trumpet Greats

Jazz Great Terence Blanchard will be performing at the Ordway Theater in October. He may be available to teach a master class at Walker|West. We will let you know as soon as we confirm arrangements.

Walker|West may also host a master class with Iraqi-American composer/jazz trumpeter Amir ElSaffar prior to his appearance at the Ordway Theater in February. Mr. ElSaffar will lead an ensemble as part of  Ragamala Dance Theater’s performance of Ragamala Rooted: Written in Water. Again, we will update you once details are firmed up.

Walker|West in the Community

Selby Music Festival

  • Walker|West represented at the Selby Avenue Jazz Festival last month. Thank you Tonya and all the volunteers for manning the table, and to our faculty members who opened the day by performing with the Selby Avenue Jazz Band.
  • A Walker|West string duo and a jazz ensemble will play for the Grand Opening of the Dr. Josie Johnson Community Room at the University of Minnesota School of Public Affairs. This private event recognizes Dr. Josie Johnson, the first African American to serve on the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents.
  • Faculty member Taylor Hamilton was part of the band that performed for the grand opening of Prince: Before the Rain, at the Minnesota History Center. The exhibit is composed of photographs taken by Allen Beaulieu, Prince’s personal photographer.

Thank you

As always, there is a lot happening at Walker|West. No matter how busy we are, however, we never forget how fortunate we are to be part of this extraordinary music-learning community. We are grateful to our students, families, staff, faculty, founders, board, volunteers, community partners, and, of course our funders and supporters. Thank you for your part in helping Walker|West thrive.

If you value this organization, please consider supporting it financially through one of the five ways to support Walker|West.