By Sylvia Davis
Metropolitan A.M.E. Church hosted the Allegro Youth Orchestra Music and Arts Institute program this summer. District youth who participated in this pilot program engaged in a non-traditional work experience through music, vocals, and dance. The Daniel Alexander Payne Community Development Corporation, in collaboration with the D.C. Department of Employment Services Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) sponsored the program.
The Metropolitan Spirit went behind the scenes to learn more about this exciting new community service program.
Vernard Dickson, Director of the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church Youth Orchestra is the brainchild behind the program. Colleagues from the local professional music community, including instructional supervisors and volunteers — Ronnie “Chuck” Carthan, Michael Horton, Avon Lyda, Thornton Hubron, Ulysees Little, and Ms. Butler, assist him. According to Mr. Dickson, he was motivated as a result of working with the youth at Metropolitan over the past three years. “The program came into existence as a meaningful work opportunity in a spiritual environment,” stated Mr. Dickson.
Ronnie Carthan, Instructional Music Supervisor, says, ” This opportunity exposes the historical church to more possibilities of growth and helping youth throughout the community.” Mr. Carthan expressed that there were some challenges with the program, which hampered some of the objectives such as limited budget, supplies, and staff. However, he embraced the program’s summer youth employees from various backgrounds throughout the District of Columbia for their efforts. Mr. Carthan stated that he enjoyed this experience working with SYEP, and was able to give back a portion of his talent to help enlarge the understandings of music, rhythm, and key signatures.
Jasmine Sweat, a D.C. resident and a junior at Pace University, NYC campus, is a Hip hop dancer in the program. She says through the program she has learned how to maintain a professional attitude in an unfamiliar working environment. “I’ve enjoyed working with talented youth, although the program was not what I thought it would be. I would have enjoyed being about dance more and to develop as a dancer,” stated Jasmine. In the future, she plans to be a choreographer and “heavily involved in all aspects of the entertainment industry.”
Christopher McFadden-Goodin, Woodrow Wilson High School student, is a vocalist in the program. Through the program, he has learned vocal techniques, which has helped him with his range. He expressed that while he likes gospel music, he would have liked to engage in other music genres. Christopher says he has enjoyed working with other program participants, and observing them expand their skills. He aspires to attend the University of Art Institute in Philadelphia, PA.
Aaron O’Neal, Woodrow Wilson High School student, is a saxophone musician in the program. Aaron says he has improved his skills on the alto sax and learned more scales. “This program has made me feel more inspired to play my instrument,” he said. He had wished to broaden his skills in to other genres of music, i.e. Hip hop, R & B, and Jazz. Aaron says it has been a privilege to participate in the program, and will use his experience wisely. According to Mr. Carthan, Aaron was one of the outstanding program participants.
The Allegro Youth Orchestra Music and Arts Institute ended the summer program with its Summer 2011 Music Performance on August 4, 2011 at Metropolitan A.M.E. Church.