Classically Trained: With donations, the band plays on

The League of American Orchestras and Newport Beach arts philanthropists Phil and Mary Lyons have given the Pacific Symphony funds to extend Santa Ana Strings.

The symphony's music education program — also aided by Santa Ana-based THINK Together — began this past summer with 150 fourth- and fifth-graders from a few Santa Ana Unified School District elementary campuses. The students received five weeks of professional instruction on the violin, then played together before the Pacific Symphony's concert at the Orange County Great Park in July.

The funds will now allow 300 fourth- and fifth-graders to study their violins year-round through in-school group instruction, after-school and summer components, according to a league news release.

Part of the funds came from a grant that is part of a three-year, $1.5-million program through the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation. The League of American Orchestras received the grant and passed it on to the Pacific Symphony, which was one of 22 American orchestras to receive a first-year portion of the funds. The funds from the Lyonses came as a separate donation.

The program meets the California Department of Education's music standards, and promotes literacy and the "students' ability to work together, analyze problems and persevere in solving them," according to the release.

"As we continue our efforts to address real community needs, we're honored to receive this support," said Pam Blaine, Pacific Symphony vice president of education and community engagement, in a prepared statement. "We're also very proud to have been selected. This endorsement validates our belief that the work we're doing in our education and community engagement programs is important and innovative."

In other symphony news, principal trumpet Barry Perkins was one of three people recently honored with the 2012 Spirit of Excellence award from the Irvine Public Schools Foundation.

Perkins, an Irvine native and Irvine High alumnus who was profiled in this column last year, has been with the symphony since 2004. His family founded the Perkins Music Center in Irvine's Northwood neighborhood.

As a 20-year-old, Perkins had an impressive start to his career after winning a seat with the Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra. When not performing with the symphony, Perkins teaches at Cal State Fullerton and runs a summer trumpet academy.


Laguna Beach Music Festival

The Philharmonic Society of Orange County and Laguna Beach Live! are presenting the annual Laguna Beach Music Festival from Feb. 3 to 10.

The festival, now in its 11th year, will highlight music from throughout South America. Performance venues include the Laguna Playhouse, Laguna College of Art and Design and Sage Hill School.

I attended one of the concerts last year that featured violinist Joshua Bell and bassist and composer Edgar Meyer. I loved the music but wasn't crazy about the playhouse as a venue.

In any case, the eclectic nature of the festival in the eclectic South County arts town of Laguna Beach will have something to please all listeners.

For more information on performances and tickets, visit or call (949) 715-9713.

BRADLEY ZINT is a classically trained musician. Email him story ideas at

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