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You Never Know Whose Life You'll Change
Maestro Paul-Elliott Cobbs' gift for engaging students in discovery concerts owes in part to the 25 years in music education that parallels his conducting career.
His frequent conducting engagements are complimented by his educational positions, including director of orchestral programs for Central Washington University, and Music Director for the Tacoma Youth Symphony Association, one of the largest in the United States.
Not only do educational concerts create the musical audience of the future, they change lives and help create the leaders of tomorrow says the Maestro.
"Sixty percent of the CEOs of American corporations participated in music programs, whereas a comparable number of their non-executive employees did not," Cobbs says. Research shows that music and arts education raises overall academic achievement, as well.
"You never know who's life you're going to change" with an educational concert, he says. "For me, it was seeing Dean Dixon, one of the first black conductors in the United States. He was the reason I thought it was possible to be a conductor."
Maestro Cobbs recalls one inner city educational concert whose audience included tough, at-risk teenage boys. "As I was conducting, I could see out of the corner of my eye that these boys were mimicking all of my conducting gestures," he says. "They were not making fun. They were mimicking me the same way they would mimic Michael Jordan's basketball moves." The boys approached the Maestro after the performance and he asked them, "How many of you would like to conduct an orchestra?" Every single one said they would.
Paul-Elliott Cobbs regularly conducts orchestras for appreciative audiences in Vienna, Germany and Poland, where he is considered an expert in his interpretations of works of classical and romantic works. But for this world-renowned Maestro the experience of conducting for young audiences brings a unique sense of satisfaction:
"The average adult will listen to Beethoven or Brahms and say 'Wasn't that nice?' But there's nothing more exciting than watching a child's reaction to Aaron Copland's 'Hoedown' or John Williams' 'Star Wars Suite'. They can't sit still," Cobbs says.
Some of the excitement has to do with his approach to these concerts: "It's not a concert. It's an event." Maestro Cobbs' approach includes elements that makes the concert accessible to students. "They are asking 'Why am I here? Why should I care?' They need to feel there's some type of connection between them and the music."
Sample Discover Music Concerts
Happy Birthday Martin Luther King. Created for the Seattle Symphony, featuring African American Symphonic and Gospel music.
Born in the USA. Created for the Northwest Chamber Orchestra, featuring music of American composers.
Made in the Americas. Created for the Everett Symphony, featuring music of North, South and Central American composers.
Performance information available upon request.
For more information on Maestro Cobbs' programs for youth and students,
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