Co-Creation Project, Grizzly Academy

“At­-risk youth open their hearts, and our eyes, with their visual and narrative expressions choreographed to Ravel’s evocative Pavane.”

The Co-Creation Project
A few years ago, music advocate Eva von Franqué saw the movie, “I Am Not A Rock Star” at the SLO Film Festival. She was very enthusiastic about Michael bringing the documentary’s subject, Marika Bournaki to SLO.  She also wanted to connect Michael to the filmmaker, Bobbi Jo Hart.

Marika is passionate about bringing music to children, while being a world-class pianist. In the film, she plays for school children who then create art from their feelings about the music. This is then projected on a screen during a live, public concert. This is an original concept by inter­arts creator Bobbi Jo Hart that combines classical music, art therapy and multi­media called “Let’s Play.”

When Michael saw the film, he realized that he wanted to bring this to youth who were experiencing hardship and difficulties in their lives. It was in his own youth that music truly saved his life and gave him a connection to his form of artistic expression. It was through music that he found a way to contribute to the community and a place where he could experience a sense of belonging. Music was the catalyst that sent his life in a fulfilling direction.

As an adult, in his work spanning 40+ years, he has dedicated himself to providing musical opportunities for young people.  The concept created by Ms. Hart inspired him to envision a way to impact youths who would not otherwise have this opportunity. Michael reached out to Grizzly Youth Academy director, Paul Piette and Dr. James J. Brescia, County Superintendent of Schools, and the Co-Creation Project was launched with great enthusiasm on all sides.

The students are all at the Academy by choice and are either high school dropouts or are at risk of dropping out. The transformational experience they undergo during their 5 months at Grizzly turns their lives around and in many cases, is the only hope they have of getting into college and earning a degree.

“Grizzly Youth Academy is like a second family I never had. They have taught me many positive things I can do in my life and growth within myself I learned and earned to be a cadet. I miss the staff, the food, and the morning work outs. I would not have made it far without my staff and the motivation in myself. Grizzly Youth Academy is the best experience of my life.”Elizabeth Luna
During the first week of May, Michael will be presenting a video of Marika that introduces the piece of music and the concept of the art expression to the students. He will also present an audio recording of the orchestral version of the same piece of music. They will then be led in an art session by Grizzly Youth Academy art teachers. The feelings they will express through their art works will be inspired by the evocative power of the music.

Our Concert & Celebration
The students’ creations will be photographed, Michael will choreograph them to the music, and they will be projected on the screen during our May 29th concert, A Triumphant Heart.

Orchestra Novo’s mission is in large part to create transformative and enriching music experiences. This project will enable us to reach youth who otherwise would not be introduced to this music, and at the same time, open the eyes of our community to the beauty of their expressions.

Our concert will also feature the Vocal Arts Ensemble of San Luis Obispo for Hymn to the Fallen by John Williams. Our program also includes Gershwin’s Concerto in F and the Brahms Academic Festival Overture.

Our Timeline

  • The students will be listening and creating during the first week of May.
  • Bobbi Jo Hart will be in SLO beginning May 22 for the screening of her film, “I Am Not A Rock Star” at the Palm Theatre.
  • Marika Bournaki will arrive May 24 and perform at a house concert on Wednesday, May 25.
  • A Triumphant Heart concert on Sunday, May 29 involves 63 local musicians and will also feature the Vocal Arts Ensemble.

Community Access
We are keeping our ticket prices extremely affordable in order to be accessible to as many folks as possible. The majority of the tickets are $40 or less.

This is a significant endeavor and particularly poignant coming at the close of Orchestra Novo’s inaugural season. Visit our Triumphant Heart webpage: OrchestraNovo for more information.