Sound Reasoning

Besides leading the festival’s outreach, Suzanne Mudge has also appeared in the lineup on trombone and as director of the Tower Music brass program.

WHEN SUE MUDGE, THE DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT FOR THE CARMEL BACH FESTIVAL, talks about music education, it sounds like she’s talking about something very different – and more inspiring – than the scales or tedious etudes you might remember from childhood music lessons. “It’s the power to heal, start conversations, make you feel,” Mudge says. “Music has the amazing capacity to create change.”

What she’s talking about with so much passion isn’t teaching music itself, but music appreciation and trying to expand the stage for who listens to well beyond Carmel and Pebble Beach. Over the last 34 years, the Carmel Bach Festival has put on 37 concerts in Seaside. So they are quite familiar with community outreach. But about five years ago, things got a little more involved.

Starting in 2014, the festival began a program called “Crossing Cultures” with a one-day residency at Seaside High School. Since that time, that’s grown to an eight-day residency at Seaside High and beyond.

There are performances at 15 schools annually in Monterey, Seaside, Marina and Soledad, playing music from different cultures. They also fund multiple residencies at Rancho Cielo Youth Campus, Youth Orchestra Salinas, Martin Luther King Jr. School of the Arts and Seaside High. On top of that, they have open rehearsals during the festival and invite students to come observe.

Mudge makes it clear that while festival organizers are proud, they aren’t satisfied yet: “It’s the most we’ve ever done, and we hope to build on that.”

Susie Brusa is CEO of Rancho Cielo, which provides training and alternative education paths for at-risk youth. “The real benefit is connection,” Brusa says.

The campus has hosted residencies four months a year for a variety of musicians from the festival. And the music isn’t always classical.

Violinist Edwin Huizinga recently brought in a DJ and an aerialist to show the correlation of music and movement. Brusa says the students loved it. “I tell the kids, you don’t have to like it, you just have to listen and observe your response,” Brusa says.

Seaside’s MLK School has their own Sing Out Loud (SOuL) program which brings three Bach Festival artists to play for fifth-graders over two weeks. This year, the children composed six songs based on the school’s mission. Some Youth Music Monterey participants are invited to perform alongside the Tower Music band during the festival. And besides in-school shows, there’s a free concert in Seaside.

How do they measure progress and success? It’s about appreciation. “We aren’t out to create professional musicians,” Mudge says. “We are out to create global citizens.”

COMMUNITY CONCERT Thursday, July 18, 7pm. St. Francis Xavier Church, 1475 LaSalle Ave., Seaside. 624-1521, bachfestival.org.
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