VerdiProvidence’s Avodah program provides their students with exposure to many different
aspects of Los Angeles culture, and on January 30, a group of students were able to
step into the world of classical music and experience Verdi’s Requiem, conducted by
Grant Gershon and performed by the skilled Los Angeles Chorale and the L.A.
Philharmonic. Before the excursion, the in-house specialist Professor Milton spoke to
the group about the leading part Los Angeles plays in the rise of the high arts. The
students not only got to listen to a production that an L.A. Times reviewer called “the
greatest live performance of the Verdi Requiem,” they were able to admire firsthand
the grandeur of the Walt Disney Hall.

As an extra component to the Avodah experience, Providence students were able to see their music professor performing on stage. Both the instrumental ensemble and the Chamber Singers of Providence are Verdi 3under the direction of Visiting Professor of Music and Theatre, Christina Bristow. Professor Bristow’s full-time occupation is performing as a soprano with the Los Angeles Master Chorale. While finding time in her busy music career is hard to do, Professor Bristow also gives voice lessons to several Providence students who greatly benefit from her training and expertise.

One student, Melissa Paramo, (class of 2017) remarked on the diversity of the audience
in age, ethnicity, and dress. As predicted by Professor Milton, people were dressed in
everything from suits to Hawaiian shirts. As organizations such as the L.A. Phil and the
Master Chorale become more mainstream, its target audience is changing. More and
more people, including Providence students, are able to experience an art that has
long been typified for the wealthy and elite. “Even though it’s not for me,” Pablo
Garcia (class of 2017) said, “I was amazed by the amount of hard work and skill it took
to create Verdi’s Requiem.”

The director of the Avodah program, Max Belz, says this is what he hopes is the first of
many opportunities students get to attend Walt Disney Concert Hall, in order to
cultivate an appreciation and love of a beautiful art form that is making a comeback in
Los Angeles culture.

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