Background

eastsideFounded by Chris Bischof in 1996, twenty years after the closing of East Palo Alto’s only high school, with a class of eight ninth grade students, Eastside Prep has grown to 255 students in grades 6 through 12. The school has met its goal of preparing all students for admission to four-year colleges. To date, every Eastside Prep student has gone on to a four-year college. From their mission statement:At Eastside College Preparatory School we are committed to opening new doors for students historically underrepresented in higher education. … Eastside students who are the first in their families to go to college create a ripple effect, changing their own lives, the lives of their families, and the life of their community

In January of 2009 a core group of San Francisco Bay Area musicians presented a program that included works by William Grant Still. Intrigued by his beautiful and masterful compositions, they continued to explore his music, along with the works of a host of other African American composers previously unknown to them. Dedicated to music-making and education, they invited colleagues to join in on this journey of enlightenment and discovery. In 2010 they began presenting annual concerts of music by African American composers, concerts located in the Performing Arts Center of Eastside College Preparatory School, East Palo Alto. All concert proceeds benefit the school.

Drawing audiences from throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, the concerts have become an annual focal point for the sharing and celebration of outstanding music by African American composers, from works of the last century to premieres of vocal and chamber works composed expressly for these concerts.

This journey that began with a program of music by William Grant Still has grown to include works by over 25 African American composers whose lives have been dedicated to composition, to education, and to the enhancement of life through music.

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