Music Is always eXtraordinary at the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music (OPC), where preservation through music education is their mission. Victorious over gentrified promises of urban renewal, the OPC has relocated from Franklin Street to 2323 Broadway in Oakland, California. Without missing a beat, the OPC has resurfaced and resumed its passion for musical exploration and excellence with extraordinary resilience. The Oakland Public Conservatory of Music remains an essential Oakland staple and indispensable creative sanctuary for African-American Classical Music (Jazz), as well as all global musical traditions of conscious cultural innovation.
The Oakland Public Conservatory of Music has a sustained history of musical mastery and intoxicating creativity which is evident the moment one steps into this sacred space. Founding Director of the OPC and Musical Director of the Count Basie Orchestra, master musician and trombonist, Angela Wellman, orchestrates the OPC’s magic by sharing the unifying power of music with the world. While Oakland is busy displacing entire neighborhoods, the OPC is busy embracing all styles of music and welcoming all to its world stage of harmonic synchronicity.
Just two decades ago, Oakland was an eclectic cornucopia of vibrant ethnicities celebrating the fathomless creativity of African, Afro-Cuban, Caribbean, African-American, and American culture. Djembe drums echoed across this diverse city, families flocked to multi-cultural festivals, Mosswood Park ushered in Caribbean Carnival season, and African-American Classical Music/Jazz filled the air. They were and are valued events, elements, and ethnicities that made Oakland one of the top five tourist destinations in the United States. These days gentrification seeks to displace HUE-manity from Oakland and all of metropolitan America.
While Oakland is busy white-washing Oakland’s social landscape, OPC staff, students, supporters, families and friends are busy increasing the caliber of musicianship and quality of social benevolence needed to keep Oakland extraordinary. In partnerships with the non-profit, SF Jazz Education, the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music has identified several goals related to issues of ethnic and gender equity and access to jazz education. Battling the pseudo-improvements of urban renewal, the OPC is determined to keep the people’s music accessible to ALL people of the community, irrespective of one’s socio-economic background, age, skill-level, or cultural heritage.
The OPC brings an array of distinguished programs to all members of, and visitors to the Oakland/Bay Area: (1) Community Music Education Programs provide private and group instruction for all ages in the form of private lessons on an instrument or voice and multicultural workshops. Community members interested in offering a course are encouraged to contact OPC Music to learn how to become a workshop leader. (2) The OPC Preparatory Program is available to students ages 7-17, providing conservatory quality training complete with private lessons, master classes, keyboard and theory classes, ensembles and performance opportunities. Moreover, participants in the Preparatory Program are required to complete 30 hours of community service yearly; (3) the OPC’s Teen Music Mentors program is for high school students. Participants in this program support students in the Preparatory Program as music, academic and social mentors. In turn the mentors receive music instruction on their instrument or voice. They are required to perform in OPC Music ensembles and participate in community service projects. Development of leadership skills and civic participation are integral components of the OPC’s Teen Music Mentors Program.
The OPC offers something for serious students, novice spectators, and music aficionados alike.Thanks to the OPC, Oakland continues to be blessed with an array of musical opportunities and world-class concerts ranging from the Bay Area’s own Steve Turre and John Santos to Zimbabwean Master Drummer, Ronnie Daliyo, and a host many other celebrated and world-renowned master artists (http://opcmusic.org/Archives.php). Master Classes and concerts are common place at the Oakland Public Conservatory.
Home to the Fredrick Douglas Youth Ensemble and the Count Basie Big Band, the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music is the place for unparalleled ingenuity where all cultures and genres of music can be experienced, internalized, and shared. So don’t miss their summer session which begins soon. An impressive array of music from James P. Johnson and William Grant Still to Bach and Stravinsky await students seeking workshops, lessons, individual, beginning, and/or master classes. Yes, everyone is invited to get into the OPC MIX because Music Is eXtraordinary at the Oakland Public Conservatory. For more information contact the OPC at (510) 836-4649, or opcmusic.org.