Every Spring, Valley Public Radio hosts a 12-week-long series featuring live performances from talented student musicians from throughout the San Joaquin Valley. The performances are largely classical music, some some exceptions. Host David Aus interviews the students in between their performances, and also serves as program producer. We serve a wide and diverse region covering two markets (Fresno and Bakersfield) and Young Artists Spotlight is a great opportunity to bring together our communities and celebrate the unique platform that Valley Public Radio brings our region. We work hard to ensure that the year’s lineup represents the various communities we serve. The students range from grade school to college and each have the unique opportunity to perform live on the air, without a safety net, from our Barmann-Chaney Performance Studio. Over the years we have had everything from string quartets to opera soloists to students playing the Chinese zither and percussion instruments made from PVC pipes. Both soloists and ensembles are featured. This year we added a video component, first involving Facebook Live streaming from our studio. For the final broadcast of the year, we partnered with the staff of the Community Media Access Collaborative, (CMAC) a local public access video center to produce a higher quality video of the broadcast. (see YouTube link). We plan to expand this collaboration next year.
As you might imagine, we feature many musically gifted students who are fortunate enough to have families who can afford to pay for them to take private lessons, and have dreams of going to the conservatory to pursue a musical career. But we also feature groups from communities where most students don’t have those opportunities, such as the acclaimed Lindsay Guitars of Lindsay High School or Brian Garcia’s Central High School Guitar Ensemble from Fresno. We’ve watched many of these students grow as people and musicians over the years in return performances and our audience loves supporting these talented tweens, teens and young adults. The diversity of these groups and the power of their performances underscores the unique power of public radio, and our role in the community.
We partner with a number of organizations to help make this project a success. First we work with local youth music programs to identify groups and schools who have a particularly outstanding collection of talent. These partners include the Youth Orchestras of Fresno and the Bakersfield Youth Symphony. We have a staff member(based in Fresno) and a station volunteer (based in Bakersfield) assist with the booking of student soloists and ensembles. We also worked with the aforementioned CMAC to expand and improve our video production efforts.