Students shine at Bren Honors concert

In April, more than 1,000 students and their families packed Segerstrom Concert Hall for one of the Irvine Unified School District’s most time-honored traditions: the annual Donald Bren Honor Concert.

“It means the world to us,” Loraine Gesk said as she watched her daughter Naomi perform at the same venue where greats like Yo-Yo Ma and Tony Bennett have performed Said after playing the harp on stage. “I could feel the joy, pride and warmth of the community coming together tonight. It’s amazing!

Before the first note sounded, parents lined the grand entrance holding flowers to celebrate their children’s performances. Backstage, students tuned instruments and rehearsed vocals in the hallway.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Woodbridge High School senior Yuri Yaguchi, who served as concertmaster at the 40th annual Honors Concert. “Music is a big part of my life, and a music education at Owen gave me many opportunities.”

The concert, performed by students in grades 5 through 12, is a prime example of Irvine’s thriving music program, a 20-year, $50 million program of excellence established by Irving Chairman Donald Bren Educational Enrichment Fund to support arts, music and science education at IUSD.

Before the show began, Irvine Senior Vice President Jeff Davis presented the district with its 18th consecutive $2 million check, drawing cheers from the audience and stomping feet of students on stage in appreciation.

“Educational opportunity and excellence have always been at the core of our planning efforts at Irving,” Davis said. “This funding commitment through Excellence in Educational Enrichment deepens our decades-long partnership with IUSD, students and families to support enrichment programs in science, arts and music.”

Leading test scores

Irvine’s $50 million commitment also helped IUSD lead the way in many state test scores.

According to IUSD Superintendent Terry Walker, IUSD ranks first among public school districts with 35,000 or more students on the California Science Test, which measures students’ ability to think critically and solve scientific problems.

On advanced placement exams, IUSD students outperformed the state in art history, music theory, two-dimensional art, biology, chemistry and physics.

“Irvine’s support is the cornerstone of our teaching profile and has a lasting impact on students’ lives,” Walker said. “This extraordinary commitment is extremely rare in education and represents the best of public-private partnership,”

He added that the funding had improved education for nearly 200,000 children over the past 18 years, giving many children their first exposure to science, music and arts education, while developing a lifelong love of learning.

Music teacher Dianna Gray conducts Junior Honors Strings during the 40th Annual Donald Bren Honors Concert at Segerstrom Hall. More than 600 Irvine Unified School District students performed 21 musical pieces.

passion for music

This lifelong love of learning and music was on full display in the finale of the Bren Honors concert, “Branches of a Great Tree,” commissioned by acclaimed composer Sean Kirchner in attendance.

“It’s awesome to be on the same stage that so many great artists have been on,” said Portola High School senior Jack Kendig, who will major in music performance and music in college next year. Compose. “I am so grateful to attend a school that inspires my passion for music.”

Voices from the IUSD Honors Orchestra and Chorus

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