By: Jennifer Ortega
Off the Hook Arts is a nonprofit music education program with large aspirations. Geared towards children and young adults in k-12, Off the Hook Arts provides free and low-cost classical music instruction across Fort Collins and the Northern Colorado area.
As part of the program, Off the Hook Arts produces a winter and summer classical music festival every year. From June 19 to July 14, Summerfest will be executing its relevant theme of human rights and global world music to highlight the idea that music unites people and celebrates life.
“It’s a collaborative experience that brings people from all different cultures and financial levels together – people who wouldn’t otherwise share those experiences. It unites them. It crosses those cultural boundaries and actual physical boundaries,” says Jephta Bernstein, founder and executive artistic director.
From featuring Grammy award winning Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, cellist Kathe Jarka, Miami String Quartet, South African pianist Justin Krawitz and political cartoonist Kal Kallaugher, Summerfest is prepared for a nonstop four weeks in Fort Collins with stops in Greeley, Boulder, Lakewood, Estes Park and Denver.
Though mostly an event designed for adults, the event benefits the young talent associated with the program; however, Bernstein strongly encourages families to bring their children to experience music at that high quality level. “We love the idea of children experiencing live music. They should be seeing performers. A child that has started violin at five that gets to see the Miami string quartet performing? That’s a life changing experience,” Bernstein says.
Accompanying the live music, two films will be shown at the event. Music of Strangers, a documentary about Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road ensemble, and Orchestra of Exiles, a documentary film about Holocaust survivors and the Jerusalem Symphony, will be highlighting human rights in classical music.
Composer Bruce Adolphe will be premiering new material, “Amandla Awethu”, and giving insight to his vision behind the music which may have been confusing before. “When you have a contemporary piece of music explained by the composer of the piece that’s being performed, you enter it in a completely different way and understand it with so much more depth,” Bernstein says.
Regardless of wanting to take over Fort Collins with classical music for four weeks, the primary goal for Summerfest is to bring unique and diverse collaborations between the arts and sciences to the Northern Colorado community.
“The arts, music in particular, has just as an important purpose and need in a child’s development,” Bernstein says. “A diverse cultural art scene in a city is what makes it vibrant, what attracts people to live there, what makes things dynamic, what gives it depth; without it you’re not really appealing to all the people that live in the community.”
With the program’s global theme, Off the Hook Arts plans to create awareness for creative and unique additions to the cultural climate in Northern Colorado while raising money to keep the education program moving forward.