Park City Institute aims to beef up its student outreach programming
Drummer Danny Seraphine is one of many sessions in the school year
Chicago’s original drummer Danny Seraphine will help Park City Institute fulfill a pact with local students when he holds an outreach session with Park City High School’s varsity Jazz Band during school hours on Tuesday.
“This helps the Park City Institute make complete on the promises of our mission, which is to ‘entertain, educate and illuminate,’” said Ari Ioannides, Park City Institute executive director. “While student outreach has always been an important part of that, I don’t think we really fully did what we could do.”
When Ioannides took the helm of Park City Institute in March 2020, he made these outreach sessions a top priority.
“Before we send someone a contract, we ask them upfront if they have a student outreach component,” he said. “If they do, we ask what it looks like and then we put it in the hopper.”
The second thing Park City Institute does is write up and send a full report regarding these outreach programs to the Park City School District, according to Ioannides.
“We know teachers are busy, but we want to see if they have time to fit these programs into their schedules,” he said. “This year, the teachers have signed off on most, if not all of them.”
In addition to Seraphine’s session, which will culminate into a free Jazz Band performance Tuesday night, other outreach programming will include Second City working with the drama class, Dance Theater of Harlem working with the dance class, an assembly for the whole school featuring astronaut Terry Virts and So Percussion’s performance with students on stage, Ioannides said.
“This is a great list of people we think can help change students’ lives,” he said.
Chris Taylor, Park City High School director of bands, said these workshops are “priceless.”
“Imagine having an artist like Danny be willing to take time to talk with the kids about what it takes to be a professional musician, and show the artistry and craft of playing music for a living,” Taylor said. “Yes, we can get the students to play up to a certain level, and they can play really well, but it’s really special to them when someone like Danny comes in and connects the dots between him, them and music. You see the impact it has on the students’ lives, and it helps propel them to their next level of achievement.”
Tuesday’s workshop will include a variety of music, according to Taylor.
“We’re going to do some tunes we have in our book, and I’ve been having the kids learn some Chicago classics as well,” he said.
Since the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts opened in 1998, the Park City Institute, initially called the Park City Performing Arts Foundation, has organized student outreach programs that included the late jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson and Latin jazz band leader Bobby Rodriguez and the Hispanic Musicians Association’s Salsa Jazz Orchestra to work with Taylor’s students.
“Sometimes wanting to participate in these workshops is selfish for me, to be honest,” Taylor said. “With Danny, I know what Chicago did as an influence on me, and I get super excited for an original member of that band to come into our school to talk about music. If you can use music like the stuff by Chicago to bring them to Miles Davis, Count Basie and Duke Ellington, all the better.”
Ioannides remembers experiencing similar student outreach programs when he was in high school.
“I saw Count Basie’s band and Maynard Fergusen’s band and I also met (playwright) Tennessee Williams during a trip to the theater,” he said. “I think it’s one of the coolest things to provide some of these types of experiences to our students who live in this small mountain town and, maybe, change their lives. And I think we’re doing a better job than we’ve ever done.”
While these outreach programs benefit students, they are sometimes equivalent to an additional performance for each of these artists, Ioannides said.
“They do require additional funding, and most of these artists and organizations charge a nominal fee,” he said. “So if anyone wants to get engaged with them and help us offset the cost, please, reach out to us.”
For information about Park City Institute’s student outreach programs, call 435-615-3114 or visit parkcityinstitute.org.
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