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BREAK THE CAGE – Collective Composition and creative play at BRAVO Summer Camp 2018

June 29 showcase of new Collective Compositions by BRAVO students at Wieden + Kennedy   – Photo by Rich Kolbell


BREAK THE CAGE: International Teaching Artists bring Collective Composition to BRAVO


10 Teaching Artists from around the US and Venezuela arrived in Portland Sunday, June 24 to introduce a new, high-energy approach to music education with the students of BRAVO Youth Orchestras.  Collective Composition relies on musical experimentation, improvisation over grooves, and group creative play to help students find their own voice through musical expression. BRAVO students premiered their newly created works in a concert on Friday, June 29 at Wieden + Kennedy’s world headquarters in the Pearl District.

Lead Teaching Artist Dan Trahey received a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from Michelle Obama in the White House in 2013. As the founding Artistic Director of OrchKids in Baltimore, he has focused his teaching on Collective Composition for the past several years, with creative student music projects at the Library of Congress, Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA, and most recently with the national youth orchestra of Honduras.  “This work is about inclusion and broadening our perspectives.  It’s about playing Beethoven and Beyoncé and everything in between. We’re really focused on putting the students’ voices and their experiences at the center.”

Over the past year, several BRAVO Teaching Artists and directors have traveled to participate in Collective Composition workshops in Los Angeles, Baltimore, and Durham, NC. Their experiences learning from and working with other programs using this process serves as a good foundation for applying this new educational approach with their students here in Portland.

“When the kids are playing music they have written themselves, their sense of ownership is palpable and the energy is through the roof,” says BRAVO co-founder and Executive Director Seth Truby.  “I’ve been a part of thousands of musical experiences of all kinds, but the first time I did Collective Composition with Dan and his kids in Baltimore just blew me away.  I knew we had to bring this to our students at BRAVO.”

Flutist Juliana Pérez and conductor/composer Giancarlo Castro D’Addona traveled from the east coast to participate this week. Both these musicians grew up in Venezuela and were trained in the famous national program of youth music education called El Sistema. These award-winning performers were eager to bring their first-hand knowledge of social change through music to BRAVO, and in exchange to have their first experience with Collective Composition. “Creating art together is a way to save lives,” says Ms. Pérez. “This educational approach teaches the students about creativity and commitment. What the students write is beautiful because they express themselves through music with guidance from the teachers. It’s a platform for them to bring ideas about current political issues onto the stage.”

Click here to see a Facebook album of photos from the 6/29 family concert at Cesar Chavez

Click here to see a Facebook album of photos from the 6/29 JUST PLAY IT concert at Wieden + Kennedy

Collective Composition lead Teaching Artist Dan Trahey and a BRAVO student introduce the new piece – Photo by Rich Kolbell

BRAVO visitors from Venezuela, June 2018

  BRAVO is inspired by El Sistema, a worldwide movement of social change through music that started in Venezuela in 1975 and now reaches over 60 countries. El Sistema’s founder, Maestro Jose Antonio Abreu, died in March, and 10,000 musicians gathered to play in his honor, the largest orchestra ever assembled. During BRAVO Summer Camp… Continue Reading

June 25-29: BRAVO Summer Camp

BRAVO students from four sites will gather for a one-week summer camp at Cesar Chavez School.  In addition to learning some new pieces, BRAVO students will create their own music by ear with the help of a team of Teaching Artists from across the country.  Community concert at the Cesar Chavez School auditorium on Friday… Continue Reading

June 29, 6pm: Just Play It. New works created by BRAVO students.

Collective Composition showcase in the Pearl Don’t miss this high energy premiere of new pieces created by BRAVO students during their one-week summer camp. The dramatic central atrium of Wieden + Kennedy‘s world headquarters serves as the perfect setting for this concert that puts creativity and student voices in the spotlight. International tuba star Dan… Continue Reading

May 12, 10am: D’Rivera Winds at St Johns Bizarre

Join the D’Rivera Winds from Cesar Chavez when they perform at one of Portland’s favorite street festivals, the St Johns Bizarre. Help celebrate the spirit of this unique corner of our city and enjoy the St Johns Parade, live music, great food, art and craft, jewelry and clothing.  We’re so delighted that our students can… Continue Reading

March 16, 7pm: BRAVO Community Orchestra Winter Concert at U of P

The BRAVO Community Orchestra brings BRAVO students together with community members of all ages. Our Winter Concert program will feature selections by African-American composers Florence Price and Scott Joplin. Scott Joplin is known as the “King of Ragtime”, and Florence Price is the first African-American woman to have her compositions performed by a major orchestra. Friday,… Continue Reading

Feb 11, 3pm: BRAVO + YSE Joint Concert at Roosevelt HS

BRAVO has dozens of community partnerships and one of our favorites is with the Young String Ensemble of the Portland Youth Philharmonic. Conductor Ines Voglar (also Asst Principal Second Violin with the Oregon Symphony) approached BRAVO about a joint performance in her first year leading the ensemble.  2018 marks the third year of this partnership,… Continue Reading