Quintet introduces Havana Magnet School to musical stories
Tallahassee Democrat. Amanda Karioth Thompson. February 06, 2018.

Capturing the spirit and glamour of the French capital in 1928, George Gershwin’s musical composition “An American in Paris” describes a glittering city, filled with leisurely strolls and honking horns.

Students at Havana Magnet School recently got a glimpse of Gershwin’s Parisian experience through a performance by the celebrated Akropolis Reed Quintet. “It’s like a field trip at school. The students don’t even have to get on a bus,” said Havana Magnet’s principal Delshuana Jackson.

The Michigan based Akropolis Reed Quintet was selected to lead the Artist Series of Tallahassee’s 2018 Artist-in-Residence program which reaches thousands of students and adults, most of whom have limited access to live musical performances.

As part of the outreach program, the ensemble provided several educational music workshops in primary and secondary schools in Leon, Wakulla and Gadsden counties.

Jackson was eager to welcome the quintet to her school because she believes “we should educate the whole child. Tapping into their creativity, the arts help us to do that.” Her commitment to arts education is both professional and personal. “I am a lover of the arts and I like all kinds of music. In middle and high school, I played clarinet and my father was a piano player. Music was part of the culture of my family.” 

The Artist-in-Residence program has become an annual tradition at Havana Magnet. “We look forward to it every year and we’re very grateful for the Artists Series,” said Jackson. “They offer our students opportunities that they may never experience. To bring nationally and internationally recognized artists to our school always opens a door to a new experience.”

Melanie Mays, Executive Director of the Artist Series agreed. “We’re trying to introduce classical music to people who have never heard it before. We’re creating the audiences of tomorrow and possibly future musicians because you never know who’s going to be so inspired by it that they say ‘hey, I want to be in band’ or ‘I want to be in orchestra.’”

Matt Landry was one of those kids. Currently Akropolis’ saxophone player, he clearly recalls similar presentations when he was a child. “When you’re young, you need to have influences that encourage you to do things. Every single person who grows up appreciating art and culture, it’s because people have facilitated it for you. We did almost 100 education events like this last year and it should be able to really impact some students and get them engaged.”

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