On December 1st, the Allegro and Presto Orchestras of Jason Lee and Gaiser Middle Schools performed in a combined concert for a crowd of approximately 500. The concert also included Oregon Hall of Fame group 3 Leg Torso thanks to a Foundation for VPS Engagement Grant awarded to the schools’ orchestra teacher, Ann Medellin.

“I’m excited for these opportunities for students who might not otherwise be exposed to professional music like that,” said Medellin, who is also a professional violinist.

Medellin describes 3 Leg Torso’s music as “an eclectic synthesis of chamber music, tango, klezmer, Latin, and Roma music.”

Luci, a viola player at Gaiser enjoyed the experience, saying “I was listening to the 3 Leg Torso and they inspired me a lot. Orchestra is one of my favorite classes because I like trying new things and this was my first concert, so I was very excited.”

In addition to bringing in 3 Leg Torso, Medellin used the opportunity as a way to inspire her 150 students and “elevate engagement, enthusiasm, and the confidence to perform for others.” Leading up to the concert, her class discussed concert preparation and performance expectations, using the opportunity to reinforce what they wanted to accomplish in goal-setting.

Medellin also saw the event as a way for students and audience members to have a shared experience of live music after the pandemic delayed in-person concerts for students. “The power of music and having a common experience together is key! The hope is to inspire, build confidence, and relationships with others who enjoy this craft,” said Medellin.

Each year the Foundation offers Engagement Grants to all VPS schools as a way to strengthen the engagement of students through enrichment projects and activities; mentoring programs and activities; and family engagement efforts and events. Since 1998, the Foundation for VPS has awarded more than one million dollars to fund innovative and exciting projects that enrich student learning.

Medellin expressed gratitude to the Foundation and donors for helping inspire her students, saying “The students at Jason Lee and Gaiser are so excited about playing music. It means so much to them. Thank you for this amazing opportunity to share music and great experiences with my students.”