By Tyler BIDDLE
On Tuesday afternoons from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., the Crescenta Valley United Methodist Church transforms into a musical classroom. The class is Music Appreciation: An In-depth Look at Six Composers taught by Dr. Ted Stern, professor of music at Glendale Community College. The project was conceived by La Crescenta resident Dianne Thompson who continues to manage it, working to create an environment where anyone can be professionally educated in the arts.
Stern and Thompson are now in their 25th semester of collaboration for the class. They describe it as an effort to bring college quality instruction into the community at large
“We thought, ‘Hey, let’s bring this out to the public,’” recalled Stern. It’s the perfect opportunity for those eager to learn about classical music to do so without having to enroll in the college system.
Stern and Thompson have been working together for over 12 years to bring the community a range of musical appreciation classes including classical opera, film composers, popular music before the 21st century, and music in culture.
“I have had so many people tell me that it’s the highlight of their week,” said Thompson. The current semester covers Praetorius, Handel, Mozart, Berlioz, Puccini and Stravinsky.
The class focuses on the historical perspective of each composer by examining their lifestyle, family and cultural background. Stern helps to train the listener’s ear by highlighting the individual elements of each composition rather than letting them simply wash over the audience.
Not only are the classes fully featured with slides, videos and audio clips but they are actually more detailed than GCC counterparts.
“This is much more in depth,” said Stern. “We have more time to spend on each composer.”
The mostly elderly attendees are there not for a grade but for pleasure and enrichment; many are accomplished professionals and musicians themselves. Often times they learn about the class through recommendations from their own children who have studied with Stern at GCC.
The classes are $90 for 14 weeks and the next semester will begin in the fall. For questions, call Dianne Thompson at (818) 445-2390.