02 Jan The Particular Magic of All-Ages Musical Groups
The Particular Magic of All-Ages Musical Groups
By Sarah Lyding, Executive Director of The Music Man Foundation
Sitting in the audience of a concert last month, I realized I was experiencing something truly special. This wasn’t just any group of musicians performing holiday classics. I was being treated to something rare.
I was listening to the Eisner Intergenerational Big Band and Choir, featuring musicians aged 14 to 76, representing a range of skills, ethnicities and income levels.
This Big Band and Choir, part of the Eisner Intergenerational Music Programs, are initiatives of Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), an organization with a range of programs supporting community members in a safe, inspiring and nurturing environment.
After the concert, I spent some time with Kevin Robb, the Eisner Intergenerational Big Band’s Artistic Director. He shared, “In our society, there are so few opportunities outside of family when you get together with people of different ages, whether you are young, whether you are middle age, whether you are older.”
He went on to tell how HOLA set out to change that in 2021. The brainchild of Trent Stamp, CEO of the Eisner Foundation, and HOLA’s CEO Tony Brown, the big band, choir, and an intergenerational orchestra now bring together more than 100 musicians from across Los Angeles to learn and connect over their shared passion – making beautiful music.
“For a lot of participants, music has been a part of their lives but they haven’t played for 20 or 30 years and want to pick it up again. Then we have a few who have no experience and are really delighted with the idea of singing in a choir,” said Robb. “It’s a great opportunity to do something that’s out of the ordinary and enriching to everyone’s lives – both the people who take part in it and the people who listen to the music.”
Research shows that too often older adults face loneliness and isolation. Without strong relationships with stable adults, young people suffer as well. HOLA’s cross-generational programs open the door to new connections.
“Everybody brings what they bring to it. The older folks bring their experience and the younger folks bring their enthusiasm,” said Robb. “What’s great is that the more experienced people are so willing to share their experience with the younger people, and the younger people are looking to learn something.”
At The Music Man Foundation, we know that music can overcome cultural and social divisions and improve quality of life, and we fund organizations working to permanently embed the power