Old Music Reaches New Generation

Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA – The Carmel Bach Festival is known for attracting world class musicians and a cultured audience. But in recent years, the Festival has reached out to a whole different group: toddlers to teens.

Youth outreach at the Carmel Bach Festival first started in 2003 when festival Dramaturge David Gordon and the late Nana Faridany had an idea. "Nana at that time was administrator of the festival. And it just occurred to us that, you know wouldn't it be great to have a kid's concert. A concert that would feature kids playing music of the 18th century. This is daunting stuff," said Gordon. That first year they added a young musicians concert, the next year a youth chorus, and then later Bach to the Future.

In the Bach to the Future youth program, children 14 years old and under explore the life and music of Bach and Handel by singing, playing games, and meeting some of festival's performers. It's the brainchild of music educator Carteena Robohm. "We need to have the children involved. We need to provide options in music for these children and getting them at a young age where they can learn to appreciate what Bach has given us in music," said Robohm.

In the past eight years the Carmel Bach Festival has gone from having zero kids involved to just over the 100. "The impact is big within the festival because we all love it. We like to see the world through their eyes. And we see it reach out into the community. We're getting more and more of a positive reputation as an organization that's also creating the future instead of only looking to the past because a lot of the music we do here is old," said Gordon.

Youth Chorus Director John Koza has seen that old music inspire a new generation. "There have been several kids that have actually gone on to become music majors in college. And I don't want them all to become music majors, I want some of them to go out and become doctors and lawyers, so that they can come back and support us. If we all become musicians then we all starve. But it has made a dramatic impact on these young people's lives in appreciating art, in performing art, and being a part of this," said Koza.

Soprano Ariel Dooner successfully auditioned for the youth chorus when she was 14 years old. Back then she says she couldn't identify a Bach piece. Now 18, she loves classical music. She's about to start her sophomore year in college where she's leaning toward a degree in anthropology, but won't give up Bach. "This will always, always, always be a part of my life, always, like community choirs watch out because I'm there," said Dooner.

When the festival ends this week, the outreach won't. The Youth Chorus and Young Musicians will perform together at the Steinbeck Festival. Their performance is Sunday, August 8th at 1:15pm at the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas.

Audio Extra: How Dramaturge David Gordon Measures Success