When 500 elementary and secondary students arrived at Schoenberg Hall at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music for the 2023 Gluck Fellows Showcase Concert, few may have thought they would have work to do. But when Mathew Harget stepped to the mic, he set things straight.
“This is UCLA,” he told the young audience. “We are one of the premiere research institutions in the country. And today, we need your help with some research.” Harget, the soprano saxophone in the Gluck Saxophone Quartet, let that one sink in before describing the medley to come.
“We will play themes from Monsters, Inc., the Incredibles, and Up!, and we need to find out which is the best one,” he continued. “So, I want you to clap during your favorite tune.”
As it turned out, the audience needed little encouragement. The saxophone quartet dug into the medley, Harget’s own arrangement, and the audience roared. (For the record, the winner was Up!)
From start to finish, the year-end showcase brimmed with excitement. Students from Los Angeles Elementary, Broadway Elementary, Braddock Elementary, UCLA’s Horace Mann, the UCLA Lab School, and the Geffen Academy at UCLA arrived at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 12 to see seven Gluck ensembles perform. It was all made possible by the 28-year partnership between the Max H. Gluck Foundation and the School of Music.
The Gluck Foundation’s mission is to bring music and the arts to underserved communities across Los Angeles. UCLA students apply to the Gluck Fellows Program for the opportunity to join one of the performing ensembles. The showcase concert is only one event put on by the Gluck ensembles, which spend most of their time conducting runouts to schools, libraries, and retirement homes.
“The Gluck Fellows have to learn how to play for different kinds of audiences,” said Jan Berry Baker, professor of saxophone and faculty artistic advisor for the Gluck Fellows Program. “Community engagement is a critical part of any musician’s life, and it is important to understand how to reach different audiences so that they get the most out of concerts.”
The showcase certainly gave the ensembles plenty of space to bring music to life for their audience. The concert opened with the Gluck String Quartet playing a lively piece by Maurice Ravel. The Gluck Classical Voice Ensemble wowed with its performance of “We Kiss in a Shadow” from The King and I by Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Là ci darem la mano” from Don Giovani, by Mozart. The romantic pieces, both touching on forbidden love in some way, did not quite scandalize the audience, although there were audible gasps in the audience when soprano Tivoli Treloar took Mattia Venni’s hand at the end of their aria.
The Gluck Jazz Ensemble featured a piece written by their bass player, but also took the opportunity to explain to the audience how jazz improvisation works. “We play it differently each time,” said trumpet player Samuel Kredich. “We’re writing the piece on stage, for you, right now.”
The Old Time Ensemble led the group in a singalong to “Creek’s All Muddy.” The audience members stomped and clapped along with the band. The Gluck Trombone Quartet introduced their slide instruments and then played some Thelonious Monk.
The showcase ended this year the way it often does, with a standout performance by the Gluck Mariachi Ensemble. Clad in their bright blue Traja de Charro apparel and sporting the traditional instruments of a Mariachi band, they opened directly with ethnomusicology major Saveena Patel singing a commanding solo in “Mexico Lindo y Querido.”
One last time, the audience roared and clapped along in time, no instructions or prompting necessary.
Since 1996, the UCLA Gluck Fellows Music Outreach Program has been the beneficiary of a generous grant from the Max H. Gluck Foundation, which enables our finest UCLA music students to offer educational performances at over 150 schools, libraries, senior centers, and other nontraditional venues throughout Los Angeles County.
Each academic year, the school hand selects top-tier UCLA student performers to participate in the Gluck Fellows Music Outreach Program. Known as Gluck Fellows, these students perform in chamber ensembles or as solo artists, offering free educational performances across an immense diversity of musical styles