We were so excited to hear the joy and excitement from the youth as they really got into the music, especially our Prince Medley and "Bohemian Rhapsody." For 20 minutes at a time, the reality of the life circumstances that led to the crimes these youth committed to find themselves at Gilliam ceased to be a barrier to our connection through the shared experience of music. We all felt joy, excitement, and inspiration for that time, and we hope this experience continues to resonate for these youth in difficult straits.
GILLIAM YOUTH SERVICE CENTER
In our most ambitious and impactful outreach performance to date, on Saturday November 23rd, 2019 Sphere gave a series of six 20-minute sets for the entire youth population at Gilliam Youth Services Center. Gilliam opened in April of 1903 and is the oldest state operated secure detention holding center in Colorado, with capacity for up to sixty-four youth ages 10 to 18, both male and female. Gilliam is a Denver Public School site, and qualifying students are able to participate in the school’s GED program. Youth attend classes Monday-Friday in reading, writing, mathematics, social studies, computer technology and physical education. Gilliam personnel are committed to modeling excellence. Through restorative principles, youth progress in their ability to handle a wide variety of social/emotional issues and situations in a healthy way, and learn to become responsible, productive citizens while keeping the community safe.
Here are some responses we received from the youth on our surveys:
"The entire group came out, not just one or two people."
"Music is very therapeutic"
"I like that they looked passionate about doing that."
"They knew what they were doin', it was smooth! I want them to keep coming!"
On Friday, September 20th, 2019 we had the pleasure of a collaborative performance and dinner event with the great people at Metro Caring. As Denver's frontline anti-hunger organization, Metro Caring works with the community to meet people’s immediate need for nutritious food while building a movement to address the root causes of hunger. Metro Caring offers innovative programming in Healthy Foods Access, Nutrition Education and Cooking Classes, ID Procurement, Urban Gardening, and Community Activation.
Dinner was catered by a graduate of one of Metro Caring's cooking classes which provided a relaxed and fun environment for a Sphere performance. Premieres of our arrangements of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" and Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 were especially well received.
CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL AND UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO BONE MARROW AND ONCOLOGY UNITS AT ANSCHUTZ
On Saturday, June 1, 2019, Sphere went out to Aurora to give back-to-back outreach performances. First, we performed in the Atrium of Children's Hospital Colorado where families with their children heading to or from appointments were able to stop and listen for a few songs. We loved having some young listeners dancing along to the Bartók Romanian Folk Dances, and enjoyed the enthusiastic adults who were very pumped to hear the classic rock songs, "Come Sail Away" and "Bohemian Rhapsody."
Immediately after, we went up the street to the University of Colorado Hospital, Anschutz Medical Center, and up to a very small lobby in between the Bone Marrow and Oncology Units for a very intimate performance. Nurses and family members were able to bring patients in to hear us, and our sound could be heard down the halls and into the rooms of those who were unable to leave their rooms. One adult patient had a moving experience with tears while sitting in a chair in the center of Sphere while we played our arrangement of Bach's immortal Chaconne. It was a truly memorable day that provided an emotional outlet in a way that only music can for many people living through the trauma of loved ones experiencing sickness.
CUSTER COUNTY SCHOOL
On Monday, January 14th, we had the pleasure of performing for the entire K-12 student body of Custer County School in two 45 minute long presentations. The elementary students enjoyed learning about different rhythms and the unexpected sounds and special effects we are able to create on our string instruments (especially the sempre pizzicato in Britten's "Playful Pizzicato" from the Simple Symphony, and the multitudinous percussion sounds in our Prince Medley). The middle and high school students were really taken by Queen and also Regina Spektor's "All the Rowboats." Alejandro passed the score off to two senior students involved in music sitting in the front row so that they could follow along as we played, which they thought was "really amazing!" As we left the school that morning, one student recognized us in the hallway and said, "are you the musicians? That was so cool!" -Alex Vittal, Executive Director
"On a snowy night in January, youth and staff packed the small, intimate basement performance space of Rainbow Alley. Rainbow Alley is a safe and brave space supporting LGBTQ youth and their allies ages 11 to 21. We loved the energy of the audience as we played our mix of music (including Beatles, Jack Jarrett, Prince, Glenn Miller, Mozart, Regina Spektor, Benjamin Britten, and Queen). At one point, we considered skipping Mozart, but they clamored to hear it, and really enjoyed it! Definitely the highlight was Britten's Simple Symphony, which began an impromptu discussion about the courage it took for Britten to be a prominent, openly gay man in a time when it was very dangerous to do so, and how we are so grateful for his bravery today, and may it be encouragement for us all to follow Britten's example and pursue our truest selves. We closed with our rendition of Queen's joyful and celebratory "Don't Stop Me Now," and everyone left feeling energized and inspired by our amazing connection through music and discourse at Rainbow Alley! -Alex Vittal, Executive Director
EL SISTEMA COLORADO
We enjoyed getting students to give us different characters and emotions to apply to our music, teaching them different effects on the instruments, and especially, the importance of knowing how to listen. Hearing Sphere's Hallelujah arrangement come together so beautifully at the end of the workshop was such a highlight! -Alejandro Gómez Guillén Artistic Co-Director
"I loved getting to play next to Sphere!"
Violin student, El Sistema Colorado
It was truly moving to be able to share our music with such an appreciative audience of over 75 people. We felt very proud to exemplify the fulfillment of our mission. The post concert surveys indicated that nearly 50% of the residents had not seen a concert within the past year. We helped to fill that void, and it shows that offering events like these to diverse and often neglected communities really matters. -Alejandro Gómez Guillén Artistic Co-Director
"I had never experienced a live concert like this!"
Resident, Brookside Inn Skilled Nursing Facility
"I have been to the symphony once or twice before, but had never gotten a chance to get so close to the musicians"
Family member of Brookside Inn Skilled Nursing Facility resident