Local Nonprofits Perform for Thousands of Elementary Students at Historic Balboa Theatre  

After a two-year hiatus, local nonprofit Classics 4 Kids is presenting their award-winning music education programs for thousands of elementary students from throughout San Diego County to enjoy. “Journey Into Jazz” takes place on May 24-25, 2022, and will feature live music from the 17-member Classics Philharmonic Orchestra accompanied by six talented high school jazz artists from the Young Lions Jazz Conservatory.

“I am so thrilled to be returning to the stage since our last performance in March, 2020”, remarked Dana Zimbric, Artistic Director and Conductor of Classics 4 Kids. “We have all missed performing for our audiences of enthusiastic elementary school kids and we can’t wait to hear them clapping and singing along with us as they learn about the distinctive history of American jazz music.”

Zimbric is collaborating with local jazz educator Rob Thorsen on this endeavor. Thorsen, a well renowned jazz bassist and Ensemble Leader with The Young Lions Jazz Conservatory, is dedicated to bringing up the next generation of jazz musicians at this jazz-focused nonprofit music school in Liberty Station. The “It’s About Time” ensemble features six talented up-and-coming jazz musicians from San Diego high schools. The group was formed in August of 2021 and features saxophonist Ben Grondona, trumpeter Josh Brookens, guitarist Matthew King, pianist Max Payton, bassist/vocalist Trinity Walsh and drummer Preston Lange. Ben Delgado will also join as a special guest trumpet student. In addition to learning music from the classic jazz repertoire, they also compose original music and create their own arrangements of songs. The group has recently performed at Panama 66, Koehler Kraft Jazz Fest and also for the San Diego Symphony Board of Directors.

Zimbric and Thorsen are committed to creating positive change by building cultural audiences and fostering lifelong music appreciation among our region’s youth. To that end, their program showcases pieces by diverse composers and highlights the critical influences of Black composers on this American art form. “My goal is that our concerts inspire creativity in children and propel their deep interest in both the music of the great classics as well as selections that celebrate a variety of cultures and ethnic backgrounds”, said Zimbric.

The two partnering organizations share many common goals to utilize the power of music to impact youth in our region. Classics 4 Kids has been providing vital music education services to youth throughout San Diego County since 1994, and was recently awarded the California Music Educators Association’s 2021 Music Industry Leadership Award. Their unique orchestra features professional musicians from San Diego’s Local 325. With curriculum aligned with California Arts Standards, Classics 4 Kids aims to strengthen and diversify arts and culture throughout San Diego County’s youth by exposing them to live classical music and interpretation. With funding from the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, the California Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, they offer a significantly subsidized ticket price of $6 per ticket to students across San Diego County. Additionally, they offer free bus scholarships to Title 1 Schools to further improve access to the arts among low-income schools.

Founded by jazz trumpet virtuoso Gilbert Castellanos, Young Lions Jazz Conservatory strives to find opportunities for community outreach that allow instructors and students to share their musical resources, gifts, and expertise beyond the classroom. Partnerships with other nonprofits such as Classics 4 Kids help serve this purpose. In addition to the conservatory’s stellar faculty, world-class jazz professionals are brought in on a regular basis throughout the year to provide master classes that provide specialized training and coaching. Students study music theory, ear training, composition, improvisation, music history, and culture. They keep the standard of teaching at the highest level while maintaining a friendly, fun, and nurturing environment.  

Performances take place for San Diego County elementary students at 9:45 AM and 11:30 AM on May 24th and 25th, 2022 at the Balboa Theatre in downtown San Diego. Tickets are available at classics4kids.org. All programs will be produced in a safe setting in accordance with Public Health regulations.   

The mission of Young Lions Jazz Conservatory is to enrich young lives, and the San Diego community where they live, by inspiring imagination, intellectual curiosity, character, and self-confidence through jazz music instruction provided to middle- and high-school students; to facilitate exclusive performance opportunities for young musicians at public venues; to promote diversity and inclusion; to foster awareness and appreciation of jazz music in the community through live performances and education.www.yljc.org