Barcelona Beats: ABC joins CPS students in Barcelona for jazz education

“Anything is possible, if the opportunity exists.”

From September 1-8, 2022, Activities Beyond the Classroom (ABC) partnered with the Kennedy Heights Arts Center and Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) to take eleven students across the Atlantic to a jazz festival in Barcelona, Spain. 

In addition to several parent chaperones, the CPS Middle School Jazz Combo were accompanied on their trip by Dr. Isidore Rudnick, the Fine Arts Curiculum Manager and Director of the CPS Jazz Academy, as well as ABC’s Executive Director, Sally Grimes. “This is a tremendous, once in a lifetime experience for these students,” said Dr. Isidore Rudnick of the excursion.

The opportunity would never have been offered without the Jazz Festival, an annual event hosted by ABC to connect students across Cincinnati with local and international jazz artists, master classes and workshops, and performance opportunities on the main stage at the Aronoff Center for the Arts. In May 2022, the featured jazz artist was Joan Chamorro, internationally acclaimed jazz artist and educator. He enjoyed his time so thoroughly with our students that he invited them to participate in the 2022 edition of a prominent jazz festival in Barcelona, the Jazzing Festival de Sant Andreu.

With the generosity of a passionate arts supporter, eleven students (and many of their parents) were able to travel to Barcelona to play on an international stage, take classes with musicians from around the world, and experience an entirely different culture. Most of the students on the trip had never left the United States before, and most reported that their greatest anxieties lie around flying for the first time, being away from home, and making mistakes in foreign places. But they also shared their excitement to be learning new jazz skills from people very different from themselves, as well as seeing and experiencing a new culture for the first time. “I’m excited to learn about what it’s like to not be in the United States,” shared Carolina, a seventh grade percussionist from Walnut Hills.

CPS Middle School Jazz Combo Performance in Spain

Check out this video of the CPS Middle School Jazz Combo, featuring the opening song from their performance at the Jazzing Festival de Sant Andreu 2022 in Barcelona. ABC is so proud of what these students accomplished in Spain, and are pleased to share it with our audience.

Jazz Students Make Memories to Last a Lifetime

The students performed at the Jazzing Festival de Sant Andreu on Sunday, September 4th to a packed audience of jazz enthusiasts. The students also attended intimate workshops led by professional musicians throughout the weekend, gaining valuable insight to their craft. Throughout the weekend, the CPS students had the opportunity to socialize and perform with student musicians from Barcelona and the Canary Islands, forming new friendships that cross international boundaries.

The students packed their few days abroad full of amazing experiences. Evelyn, a seventh grade vibraphonist from Clark Montessori, shared her favorite parts of the trip were, “getting to see the view of [Barcelona], performing and practicing with new people, and most importantly being with my band mates.” In fact, many of the students proudly remarked about the bonding experience of doing new things with their peers. “I have a different relationship with everyone,” Tia, a sixth grade flautist from Parker Woods, shared, “I feel like everyone’s closer now.”

“I was only kind of friends with [my fellow Jazz Academy peers], but now I am really good friends with them,” shared a seventh grade saxophonist from Walnut Hills. “We are now going to hang out outside of [the Jazz Academy] too!”

While they certainly learned valuable skills in jazz musicianship and performance, they also shared how excited they were to learn about things completely separate from the jazz experience they’d come for. “I learned that I really enjoy flamenco dancing!” Carolina shared; Tia shared her piqued curiosity in architecture, particularly in La Segrada Familia Catedral; and Ben, a sixth grade trumpeter from Kilgour, learned that soccer is far more than a game in Europe. “Futbol is very important here.”

We at ABC are most proud of the social and emotional skills they honed in Barcelona. Students were reflective on their flight home and shared some of the deeper lessons this trip taught them. “I like adventure,” Jonas, a seventh grade trumpeter from Clark said. Ruby, a sixth grade clarinetist from Parker Woods, shared, “I love flying to new places and exploring their cultures.” Tia proudly shared, “I can be responsible without [the supervision of] my parents.” And finally, one student shared this profound thought: “With the right skills, anything is possible if the opportunity exists.”

ABC Supports Arts Enrichment

ABC is incredibly grateful for the partnership of Dr. Isidore Rudnick, the Fine Arts Curriculum Manager at Cincinnati Public Schools, and all that he contributed to this trip for the students. Dr. Rudnick’s international connections in the jazz world helped create this opportunity in Barcelona, and ABC is proud to have helped turn his vision into a reality. “Thank you to Dr. Rudnick for your incredible dedication to the students you serve,” said Sally Grimes, ABC Executive Director. “We are proud to partner with you on this trip, the International Jazz Festival, and future endeavors supporting musical education for students!”

Please click here to visit and subscribe to our YouTube page, where ABC will upload all of the videos we have obtained during this experience.  You can also click here to access our Facebook page, where our Executive Director kept a public travel diary of the experience as it was happening.

We are so proud to be able to provide opportunities like these to our students across Cincinnati. Do you want to support Cincinnati students having access to experiences like this in the future? Contact our Advancement Department to learn how you can make a difference in students’ lives today!