WEST VALLEY CITY — The Oquirrh Mountain Symphony and the American Preparatory Academy charter school launched a new music education program last Monday for high-risk youth along the west side of the Wasatch Front.

The program, which the Oquirrh Mountain Symphony has named "Crescendo!", is based on a world-wide music project for impoverished children, called El Sistema.

David France, a music educator and one of only 30 specially-trained El Sistema/Abreu fellows in the world, traveled to Utah to teach American Preparatory Academy students the program’s first music lesson at a special event for the launch.

El Sistema started in 1975 in Venezuela and has been successfully institued in more than 43 countries.

"Crescendo!", the Oquirrh Mountain Symphony's version of the program, will allow students to study music for an additional 15-20 hours a week both after school and on Saturdays. The program will give youth the chance to participate in recorder ensembles, bucket bands, choirs, wind ensembles, flute choirs, brass ensembles, orchestras and even mariachi bands.

“I am so excited to bring an El Sistema music program to Utah,” said LeAnn Hord, executive director of Oquirrh Mountain Symphony. “I raised 10 children in impoverished conditions. I used music as my teaching tool, and as a way to keep my family close to home and productive. I’ve seen this method work and, now that my kids are grown, I’m happy to share it with other families like my own.”

“This is the type of intensive study that will impact not just their lives, but their families and the entire community,” said Carolyn Sharette, executive director of American Preparatory Schools.

The symphony and school say they have launched the program because of ample research showing that music education positively impacts grades, test scores, memory and development.

"Crescendo!" will offer employment opportunities for Utah music educators. The Oquirrh Mountain Symphony is looking for students, teachers and partners to help build the program, which is currently open for administrative development. Classes will begin in June.

The Oquirrh Mountain Symphony, founded in 1999, provides concerts to more than 15 cities along the southwest area of the Salt Lake Valley. American Preparatory Schools started in Draper in 2003, expanding to West Valley in 2009.

For more information about the program and the Oquirrh Mountain Symphony, visit omsymphony.org/elsistema. For more information about America Preparatory Academy, visit www.americanprep.org.