Category Archives: arts

Russian pianist plays Scottsdale

Story and photos by Daniel Friedman

Sixth grade students in Nancy Carvone’s music history/piano class at BASIS Scottsdale were treated to a private concert by Russian-born pianist Katya Grineva, who is in town for a concert at the MIM on Saturday at 7pm.

Grineva played Rachmaninoff, Debussy, Chopin and De Falla on a brand new upright Steinway that still had the tags on it. The students listened intently as Grineva played, then asked how long she practiced. Grineva said she practiced eight hours a day when she was a teenager, but now “just” three to five hours each day, depending on how much she was traveling.

Katya Grineva signs autographs at the end of class.

They wanted to know how she played so fast. The answer was the same as the classic “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” where New York-based Grineva has played many times: practice.

Grineva told students how she started playing piano when she was 5 and decided when she was 13 to make it her life. Her family didn’t have much money but when they managed to get a piano her mother said if Katya didn’t practice she would gladly sell it.

Grineva and new fans.

On the way out of class, students asked Grineva to autograph their sheet music, and only as the students were waiting to be dismissed did they ask to have their picture taken with her.

Some students asked their friends to take their picture with Grineva.


Valley Youth Theatre student scholarships

Valley Youth Theatre performance of the musical Hairspray

Valley Youth Theatre in Phoenix launched a scholarship program three years ago to assist young actors, musicians and technical crew members who participate in their productions.

Youth can receive “up to $300 per production toward college.” Valley Youth Theatre is asking members of the community to support the scholarship program with donations of any amount.

“Your contribution,” says producing artistic director Bobb Cooper, “is a great incentive for them to pursue higher education and achieve their personal best.”

“Whether they become attorneys, teachers, doctors or professional entertainers like VYT alumni Chelsea Kane, Emma Stone, Jordin Sparks or Maxx Crumm, college education is crucial,” says Cooper.

Valley Youth Theatre alumnus John Luke Osorio received a check from VYT that paid for all his books for a semester at Grand Canyon University, where he’s pursuing a voice degree while launching his career as a music director.

Osorio caught the theater bug after seeing his first show at the age of 14. Soon he started acting in Valley theater productions. Osorio discovered his love for music directing while interning with Valley Youth Theatre during the summer of 2009.

His first job was serving as music director for a VYT production of “Honk, Jr.” and his most recent was serving as music director for a Greasepaint Youtheatre production of Disney’s “Aladdin, Jr.”

He’s had several gigs in between, including assistant music director for Valley Youth Theatre productions of “Annie” and “Hairspray” — and the Grand Canyon University production of “The Frogs.”

Soo how did Osorio feel about getting the extra support from VYT? “I was ecstatic,” Osorio recalls, “that VYT had yet again given me the chance I needed to succeed in my career of choice.”

To learn more about Valley Youth Theatre scholarships or to make an online donation to the program, visit their website at

— Lynn Trimble

Obama honors Arizona program

Hopi High School student and composer Jordan Lomahoema

Arizona sophomore Jordan Lomahoema of Keams Canyon, Hopi Nation in Arizona was at the White House recently as First Lady Michelle Obama recognized 12 arts and humanities programs that have produced positive outcomes for youth. Each program is part of a larger after-school or out-of-school program.

Lomahoema, a 15-year-old student who attends Hopi High School, was there representing the Grand Canyon Music Festival’s Native American Composer Apprentice Project, one of 471 nominated programs.

Youth who participate in the project “study with professional composers and ensembles, traversing the entire compositional journey” from inspiration and notation to performance and recording of their work.

Lomahoema has been involved with the project since 2010. His first work as an apprentice composer was a two-minute piece he titled “A Darkened Heart,” which “traced the events of the night his mother lost her life in a car accident.”

Grand Canyon Music Festival created its Native American Composer Apprentice Project to “nurture the musical talents of Native American students, to provide them with the tools they need to develop their own compositional voices, and to give them a platform for their voices.”

The project provides “a challenging, empowering artistic experience” for students who are “isolated through geography and marginalized by the dominant culture.” More than 3,000 Hopi and Navajo reservation youth have participated in the project since its inception in 2001.

The National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, first presented in 1998, is administered by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. It’s presented in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Winning programs will receive $10,000 and a year of communications and capacity-building support. Click here to learn more about the 2011 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program, and here to learn more about the Native American Composer Apprentice Project.

— Lynn Trimble

School to Work program

A group of students who participated in School to Work at ASU Gammage last year

In a day and age when so many headlines involve the topic of jobs, it’s important to remember the many economic opportunities provided by the arts. ASU Gammage in Tempe was way ahead of the curve on this one.

They’ve presented a “School to Work” program for the past 17 years, inviting Valley students to participate in an interactive workshop highlighting “what it takes to run one of the top arts presenting theaters in the United States.”

“I am proud to open our doors to these students,” says Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, executive director for ASU Gammage. “This could have a lasting effect on what career choices they make in the future.”

Nearly 40 students from Sonoran Science Academy and Arizona School for the Arts, both located in Phoenix, will take part in this year’s program on Thursday, Nov. 3. They’ll be learning about potential careers in arts administration from ASU Gammage staff.

Students will be assigned to departments such as box office, marketing, cultural participation, accounting and technical production — then tasked with working together as a staff to execute projects and solve problems.

School to Work participants enjoying a backstage tour at ASU Gammage

They’ll also experience an exclusive backstage tour with the company manager for the Blue Man Group, which performs at ASU Gammage Nov. 1-6. Something tells me at least one student will go home eager to pursue a career as a Blue Man Group cast member.

Teacher Deb Moore of Sunrise Mountain High School in Peoria, which has participated in the ASU Gammage “School to Work” program, says it’s a great way to introduce students who love the arts to careers beyond the stage. Not everyone will sing, dance or act — but there are plenty of art careers in other areas.

“This is an amazing experience for the students,” says Moore. “It opens their eyes to the many possibilities there are after getting an education.”

— Lynn Trimble

Friday FUN photos from school: How about those strings?

Bicentennial South Elementary School had a special visit recently from members of the strings section for the Phoenix Symphony. As these pictures clearly show, even classical musicians can be rock stars in a child’s eyes.

Bicentennial South is located at 7301 N. 58th Ave. in Glendale, and is part of the Glendale Elementary School District, which shared the pictures. The Phoenix Symphony offers a number of educational outreach programs for students. Learn more.

Want to see your school featured next Friday? Send your FUN photos to:

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Hanging with the great artists

Artwork from 5th and 6th graders at Desert Palms Elementary is on display in the children’s gallery at the Phoenix Art Museum through Oct. 31.

The young artists, under the direction of Desert Palms Elementary art teacher Marian Meadows, created original works of art using a variety of media — including temperas, watercolors, pastels and color pencils — that depict each student’s favorite piece of art from prior field trips to the museum.

The Phoenix Art Museum is home to creations from around the world and displays collections from ancient to modern, from masters to rising stars. It is located at 1625 N. Central Ave. and offers free admission on Wednesdays from 3 to 9 p.m. and the first Friday of every month from 6 to 10 p.m.

Desert Palms Elementary, part of the Peoria Unified School District, is located in the Northwest Valley.

Desert Palms art on display at the Phoenix Art Museum. This image shows a poster of the museum's original painting, "Four Ice Cream Cones" by Wayne Thiebaud, along with examples by students. Photo courtesy of Peoria Unified School District.

Ballet Arizona student matinees

Students can enjoy a special Ballet Arizona performance of Cinderella this month at Symphony Hall in Phoenix (Photo: Tim Fuller)

Ballet Arizona offers student matinee performances featuring 45 minute abbreviated versions of their regular season productions. Performances take place at 10:30 am at Symphony Hall in downtown Phoenix, and cost just $4 per seat.

This year’s student matinees are:

  • Cinderella featuring choreography by Ib Andersen (artistic director for Ballet Arizona) and music by Sergei Prokfiev. Thursday, Oct. 20.
  • The Sleeping Beauty featuring choreography by Ib Andersen and music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Thursday, Feb. 9.
  • Director’s Choice featuring three works — In The Night (choreography by Jerome Robbins and music by Frederic Chopin), Suenos (choreography by Ib Andersen and musical selections from Massenet and Rossini) and Paquita (choreography by Olga Evreinoff and Marius Pepita and music by Ludwig Minkus). Thursday, March 29.
  • All Balanchine featuring three works choreographed by George Balanchine — Stravinsky Violin Concerto (music by Igor Stravinsky), Episodes-Arizona Premiere (music by Anton Von Webren) and Rubies (music by Igor Stravinsky). Thursday, May 31.

Each student matinee performance is followed by a Q & A session called “Meet the Dancers.” Multi-level study guides are provided to assist teachers in preparing students for performances, creating cross-curricular ties and aligning related lesson plans with Arizona academic standards.

To learn more, visit Ballet Arizona at or contact Richard Campana at 602-343-6550 or

— Lynn Trimble