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Life and Arts

On the Town: Concert raises funds for music programs at local high schools

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From left, Justin Klotzle, Brett Carroll, Jessica Good, Brendon Jennings, Peggy Flynn and Taylor Arakelian, all with Burbank Unified, pose with April Williams, president and founder of the Musicians at Play Foundation, prior to a fundraiser concert called “A Far Off Place” presented last week.
(David Laurell/Burbank Leader)

While the gridiron rivalry between Burbank and John Burroughs high schools is legendary, when it comes to music there is nothing to be found other than harmony.

Instrumental and vocal-music students from the two high schools joined with professional musicians from the Musicians at Play Foundation this past Saturday at Burroughs High for a fundraiser concert to raise money for music programs at both schools.

Presented under the title “A Far Off Place,” the evening featured music by composer John Williams, who just received his 52nd Oscar nomination for “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” and the late composer James Horner, whose score for James Cameron’s “Titanic” is the best-selling orchestral film soundtrack of all time.

Last week’s third annual concert fundraiser was preceded by a VIP reception in the school’s quad. The reception was chaired by Jessica Good, who headed up a committee made up of Peggy Flynn, who serves as Burbank Unified’s arts, career and technical education coordinator, Cindy Pease, Lori Hubert, Christina Gomez, Jen Lurie, Wendy Stackhouse, Michael and Debbie Rubin, Connie Trimble, Pam Paterra and Margaret Good.

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Among the special guests were Burbank school board members Steve Frinter, Armond Aghakhanian and Roberta Reynolds, and Burbank Unified School District Supt. Matt Hill.

Also in attendance were John Williams’ brother, Don Williams, and his wife, April, who are founders of the Musicians at Play Foundation that is heading up a 2020 campaign to raise more than $100,000 to support vocal and instrumental programs at Burbank’s two high schools.

The funds raised at last week’s event are part of a 10-year campaign to raise more than $1 million to fix and replace instruments, establish an ongoing mentorship program and raise community awareness of the local high schools’ instrumental and vocal-music programs.

Last week’s concert, which featured performances by John Burroughs High School’s Powerhouse show choir and vocal ensemble as well as the school’s wind ensemble and Burbank High School’s InSync show choir and string orchestra, was presented under the direction of Musicians at Play conductor Anthony Parnther and Burbank Unified musical staff members Taylor Arakelian, Brendon Jennings, Justin Klotzle and Brett Carroll.

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The Musicians at Play Foundation is now gearing up for a fifth-anniversary event to be held at Nickelodeon Animation Studios on April 4. The 1920s-themed event will honor Flynn and Parnther during an evening that will include a cocktail reception, musical performances by students and guest musicians, celebrity appearances and a night of casino gaming.

For tickets and more information about supporting Musicians at Play, visit musiciansatplay.org.

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