Blending jazz and classical music for Musicopia

Pianist Hanchien Lee of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia will perform at the benefit.  Credit: Provided Pianist Hanchien Lee of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia will perform at the benefit.

For nearly 40 years, Musicopia has been helping to bring music education to underserved students and communities throughout the Delaware Valley. This weekend, the organization will receive a helping hand of its own, as several local institutions band together to present an afternoon of jazz and classical music to benefit Musicopia.

“With budget cuts in schools the norm, one of the first programs eliminated is music,” says Bruce Klauber, drummer for the All-Star Jazz Quartet and “Jazz Scene” columnist for ICON Magazine. “Musicopia takes up the slack by coming into schools whose programs have been cut and teaching kids about the history and the importance of jazz, classical and every other form of music. And for a kid who wants to play an instrument and can’t afford it, Musicopia will get that kid a horn or a drum or a violin.”

ICON is sponsoring the benefit along with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Jacobs Music, DW Drum Company and WRTI Radio. Longtime WRTI DJ Bob Perkins will host the concert, which features performances by the All-Star Jazz Quartet, singer Paula Johns and her trio, and classical pianist Hanchien Lee.

Klauber says the blending of jazz and classical music, integral to all of the sponsoring organizations, is a key component of the benefit concert. “I wanted to help break what I call the ‘label specific’ barrier,” he says. “Take radio: You have an all-rap station, all-oldies station, all-jazz station. Why not mix it up and expose jazz people to classical music and classical people to jazz? I’m not in favor of spoon-feeding any one genre to an audience.”

Founded in 1974, Musicopia offers nearly 600 programs reaching more than 40,000 students and community members. The organization focuses on areas in the region that are lacking in music education programs or isolated from cultural opportunities.

Beyond simply raising funds, Klauber hopes the concert sets an example for other area cultural organizations. “I’m hopeful for increased cooperation between all those who support the arts and music in this area,” he says. “The more we band together, the more we can do on behalf of music education and good music in general.”

If you go

An Afternoon of Jazz and Classical Music: A Benefit for Musicopia
June 2, 3 p.m.
Philadelphia Ethical Society
1906 Rittenhouse Square
$20, 215-730-1789
www.icondv.com

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