This fall, artists representing Cuban, Greek, and American Folk music welcomed students in grades K–2 to Carnegie Hall to explore their voices with our new Musical Explorers host, Sid Solomon. Sid is a native Brooklynite, a graduate of the New York City public school system, and an active arts educator. He will be hosting the second round of Musical Explorers concerts featuring Chinese, Musical Theater, and Indian artists April 15–19 in Zankel Hall. We chatted with Sid about his experience.
I attended New York City public schools from pre-K through high school and was very fortunate to be exposed to arts of all kinds at every level of my education. I made my stage debut in Cinderella at PS272 in Gravesend, participated in class musicals every year at PS114 in Canarsie, was in the school chorus at Andries Hudde Junior High School in Midwood, and began my formal training as an actor at LaGuardia High School of the Arts at Lincoln Center.
I also had the benefit of very artistically supportive parents who took my sisters and me to Young People’s Concerts at the New York Philharmonic, along with great museums, plays, musicals, and concerts all over the city. But I never had an experience like our audiences get to have at a Musical Explorers concert. If I weren’t having so much fun on stage hosting the show, I think I’d probably be a little jealous of the kids. The quality of the programming, the caliber of the artists, and the support of the staff at Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute continually amaze me. It’s an incredible opportunity for our students; one I know I would have loved if I’d had the chance.
The week of concerts that I did this fall exceeded my greatest expectations. As an actor, I’m used to performing in character, wearing a costume, playing a part. I’ve had a lot of experience performing in front of young people, but the prospect of actually having to be myself was a little nerve-wracking.
What surprised me the most from the very beginning of the first concert was the generosity and warmth of our student audiences. They were engaged, prepared, and excited to be at Carnegie Hall, and it was a joy to lead them through the concert, introduce them to a stage full of incredible musicians, and help them think and learn about music in ways perhaps they hadn’t before.To have this opportunity to work with students from New York City schools just like those that I attended means the world to me.
If you're in the NYC area, learn how to register your school as part of Musical Explorers. Registration opens this spring.
I’m looking forward to learning some things myself! I have a reasonably well-balanced artistic background, but my real expertise is in theater. So while I’m sure I’ll be familiar with (and love every second of) the Musical Theater section, I’m thrilled at the prospect of learning about Indian and Chinese musical cultures, much as I learned so much from Rolando, Joe, and Magda this fall.