Lively Arts Reports on Busy February of Educational Outreach

Posted on 3/1/2013 9:14:08 AM

John Blake - Saltsburg ElementaryFebruary 2013 was an event-filled month for the Lively Arts arts-in-education program, Artspath, with multiple outreach sessions at IUP and in area public schools. Front and center was jazz violinist John Blake, Jr. and the renowned theater company from Philadelphia, Walnut Street Theatre.

The month kicked off with jazz violinist John Blake Jr. visiting to rehearse for his upcoming performance, and also to present and interact with IUP and public school students. On February 4 and 5, he and the piano player for the John Blake Jr. Quartet, Dave Posmontier, visited United Jr./Sr. High School, Indiana Area Middle School, Blairsville Elementary School, and Saltsburg Elementary School (pictured) in presenting programs on African-American composers and their music. The visits supported Black History Month and were very well received by the schools. Among all four, nearly 1,000 students listened and asked questions. Also assisting at two of the schools was IUP bass student Nick Adams.

John Blake - Jam SessionA jazz jam session was a centerpiece of this visit by Blake as he and pianist Posmontier were joined by a rhythm section of IUP students in presenting an evening open jam session for anyone interested in jazz. The session lasted two hours, during which all participants—students and faculty alike—had the opportunity to solo, regardless of their instrument. Blake also spent time in between numbers sharing with the participants his vast experience in the world of jazz.

John Blake - Stapleton LibraryAs part of his return visit, on February 21 Blake and pianist Luke O’Reilly spent an hour in Stapleton Library playing for a noontime crowd in an informal lecture/demonstration preview of his evening concert. The lunchtime crowd was treated to several outstanding jazz duets by two players who spanned generations of jazz, plus learned a great deal about jazz and its roots in the African-American community.

In between the two John Blake, Jr. visits, the renowned and critically acclaimed touring company from America's oldest continuously operating theater, Walnut Street Theatre (WST), presented two acting technique masterclasses and two Q&A sessions to IUP and Indiana Area high school students. At IUP, cast members Bill Van Horn and John Zak worked with theater students exploring character development in a Shakespeare play, and the entire cast attended a Talk Back session with theater students in professor Jason Chimonides special topics course on playwright/director relationships, where they shared their experience in a theater career and answered student questions (right).

WST - Indiana HS Masterclass

Van Horn and Zak also worked with Indiana High School students on their Shakespearian monologues in preparation for those students attending a Shakespeare competition later this spring (left). At Indiana Area Middle School, the entire cast talked with seventh graders who were part of a 20-day ArtsPath residency with literary artist P.J. Piccirillo and English teacher Jeanne Mitsko. As part of their residency experience, they read Around the World in 80 Days, a production WST performed at IUP the night before. Nearly 50 students saw the live performance and were able to ask questions of the cast members the next day at the Q&A session.

If you are a teacher or principal who would like your students and school to be considered for future outreach sessions, please contact Jeff Wacker, ArtsPath associate director for arts-in-education services, at 724-357-2787 (ARTS) or at

ArtsPath is the arts-in-education program of the Lively Arts, serving the five-county region of Armstrong, Butler, Clarion, Indiana, and Jefferson counties.