Burbank Unified fundraiser to rhapsodize over music education

Guest director Anthony Parnther rehearses with the Burbank Unified All District Symphonic Orchestra for the upcoming “Music is Instrumental” performance at John Burroughs High School.
(Tim Berger/Burbank Leader)

The annual “Music is Instrumental” concert put on by the Burbank Unified School District and the nonprofit Musicians at Play Foundation has been a way to support vocal and instrumental music programs in the city.

Now in its third year, a group of musicians and vocalists from Burbank and John Burroughs high schools have had the opportunity to work with professional musicians and perform pieces their mentors have helped record.

“A Far Off Place,” the title of this year’s concert, will include scores written by renowned composer John Williams for the movies “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Home Alone,” as well as a piece from “Avatar,” composed by James Horner.

The event will be presented at 7 p.m. on Saturday in the auditorium at John Burroughs High School, 1920 W. Clark Ave.


“These kids are really sweating to learn this music, and it’s not easy,” said Anthony Parnther, the guest conductor for this year’s concert. “This is the same music we hear in the movies. It’s not watered down at all.”

On Thursday night at Burbank High School, students playing in the concert were compartmentalized into their various orchestral sections in different sections of the campus and rehearsed the songs with their mentors.

Parnther, music director of the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra, said he thinks the fundraising event is about more than just keeping music programs alive or giving students an opportunity to learn from professionals.

“Music education extends far beyond teaching kids how to play an instrument,” he said. “Students who go through programs like this get to learn, at its most basic core, good citizenship.”


Parnther said students who are a part of an ensemble learn about leadership, communication, discipline, respect and responsibility.

“In English and social studies classes, you learn about facts, but you don’t learn about how to deal with one another,” Parnther said. “You learn that if you’re late to rehearsal, that doesn’t hurt just you but the whole ensemble. So they learn what it’s like to be one small part of a whole.”

Tickets to “A Far Off Place” can be purchased at

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