'We Are Hope' concert showcases importance of music education

Published: Friday, Nov. 1 2013 12:45 p.m. MDT

Mark Wood, an electric violinist and an original member of the Trans Siberian Orchestra, is one of several artists who will be performing at MuzArt's "We Are Hope" concert at the LDS Conference Center on Nov. 7.

Provided by MuzArt World Foundation

SALT LAKE CITY — The MuzArt World Foundation is launching its campaign to reinvest in music and art education in schools with the "We Are Hope" concert Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. at the LDS Conference Center.

More than a dozen artists from across the country will come together for the concert, including two local artists — country singer Nathan Osmond and 11-year-old singer Lexi Walker.

Child prodigy and former "America's Got Talent" contestant Jackie Evancho and Mark Wood, a rock violinist and former Trans-Siberian Orchestra member, will headline the event.

Concertgoers can expect a wide variety of performances and styles, from a virtual string orchestra conducted by Wood to the Western style of singer Michael Martin Murphey.

"They are going to see something they've never seen before," Wood said. "I think they're going to be witnessing a once-in-a-lifetime moment of technology meeting tradition."

The concert is aimed at reminding the public of the impact music can have on a young person's life and the role older artists can play as mentors.

Osmond said he was particularly impressed with the young artists, such as Lexi and Jackie, the concert is showcasing.

"(Lexi) is only 11 years old and has this beautiful voice," Osmond said, "It's going to be amazing to see some of the up-and-coming talent that's going to be displayed there."

According to her mother, Lexi has loved music from the time she was a baby. While Lexi's formal training didn't start until this year, she has taken lessons from her grandmother since she was a toddler.

A choir student who is in middle school, Lexi's local fame grew when a video of her singing the national anthem at a Real Salt Lake soccer match went viral.

"I'm always cheered up by music no matter what kind it is — well, except for hard rock or something," Lexi said with a laugh. "I feel refreshed after I have those type of classes.”

Osmond said Lexi was just one example of the talent that's hiding in our public schools, but when art programs are cut, students lose out on the benefits that music education can have on all students.

Growing up in the Osmond family and singing in The Osmonds Second Generation, Osmond said he was always surrounded by music, so his affinity for it came naturally. But it was through the arts that his confidence grew and he came to believe that he can do anything if he works hard enough at it.

"I think that's what the arts do for our young people," Osmond said. "It gives them the boost of confidence that they need, that they can express themselves in many different ways and make an impact in the world."

Early in his career as a rock violinist, Wood said he never thought about the importance of music education. But 10 years ago, he was invited to work with school students.

When he entered the classroom, it was like a lightning bolt went off.

“This is the epicenter of energy and the epicenter of doing good in the world,” Wood said. “Playing in a club at 11 o’clock at night was one thing. Doing the Trans-Siberian Orchestra was wonderful, but when you change a person's life — a kid who's sort of withdrawn in the back of the violin section — when you can engage that kid and change the course of their life? The impact of that, to me, transcends any award or platinum record I may have had. Because one changed life, as you know, changes everyone else around them."

Today, Wood visits more than 100 schools a year with his wife and son as part of his Electrify Your Music program.

The arts are an important part of education because they inspire creativity in students that then leads them to succeed in their other classes, he believes. While some may see the arts and sciences as opposites, music can actually improve a student's work in math and science, according to Wood.

"(Music) is such a tremendously important complement to that type of education that we have to not forget the most important part of what art gives us, which is creative thinking," Wood said. "Without creativity or imagination, we are nothing."

To see a full list of the artists performing and learn more about the MuzArt World Foundation, visit muzartworld.org.

Tickets for the "We Are Hope" concert range from $13-$40 at events.lds.org and muzartworld.org or by calling 801-570-0080. A family package of six tickets is available for a discounted price.

Katie Harmer is a journalism graduate of Brigham Young University and writes for Mormon Times. Email: kharmer@deseretnews.com Twitter: harmerk

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