Welcome! Here in Philadelphia, All City means music. More specifically, it refers to the select city-wide high school music ensembles: Orchestra, Concert Choir, Concert Band, Jazz Orchestra, Chamber Groups, and the Concerto Competition.
Auditions are held each year on the first Tuesday after November 1st, when schools are closed on Election Day, and most kids are sleeping in. That is, except for the musically talented ones. Teenagers from across Philadelphia are up early, making their way to the Olney section of the city. They converge on Girls High, where they line the halls, and wait for their turn to play scales, prepared selections, and to site read unfamiliar passages for the judges. Results are tabulated and lists are posted on bulletin boards in schools across across the city.
The excitement of acceptance is a matter of pride, but it also means that the real work is about to begin. Rehearsals, practice time, musical retreats… If only work could always be so satisfying and rewarding! Friendships evolve along with musicianship, and citizenship too. These kids learn what it means to show up and perform your part for the greater good. They all need to learn and to contribute, because in five month time they will be appearing on the stage of Verizon Hall, at the Kimmel Center, one of the great music venues of the world, and the home of the the celebrated Philadelphia Orchestra.
You never hear anyone say.: “Kids these days… All they want to do is perform in an outstanding concert on a world-class stage.” But ask All City musicians about the highlights of their high school years, and they sing the praises of music education and the awe inspiring performances through which they learned to step up and reveal their potential. Very few of them become professional musicians, although several members of the Philadelphia Orchestra got their start in All City, but all of them learned the value of stepping up and learning to perform in a group where the whole is so much more than the mere sum of its parts. These are lessons young people can take anywhere and everywhere they go.
Are you an All City member, conductor, teacher or graduate? Whether you were in All City last week or 50 years ago, we want to hear your story and see what impact it has had on your life. You don’t have to be a professional writer, just a half-way decent story teller. We’ll take care of the editing. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll get write on it!
The blog was created in May, of 2015, in advance of the historic All City Orchestra Italy Tour. All of those posts have been reposted here, indicating the date on which they originally appeared.