The axe is falling on music education in public schools. The star of James Durbin is rising on American Idol. Put those two trends together, and the purpose behind the Young Performers Showcase (Durbin is an alum of the event) becomes potently clear. Now in its third year, the fundraiser this Saturday, April 9, at The Rio Theatre, presents a full lineup of local youth strutting disparate skills to raise awareness and moolah to continue music programs in Santa Cruz City schools. It all started when Rick Linzer saw how the economic downturn was threatening music lessons. The veteran jazz saxophonist, who says that music “really saved my life in a lot of ways; it gave me a sense of purpose and camaraderie,” has gone on to coordinate an annual concert that provides family entertainment while ensuring that school bands can be armed with instruments and kids can be exposed to the nurturing and healing nature of music. As a music major in college, Linzer learned how effective music is in a child’s cognitive, social and emotional development. “Numerous studies show that [music] gives kids a sense of connection to school and helps with self-esteem, creative and analytical thinking, coordination, problem solving and team building,” he says. Culling performers in their early teens to their late-20s, Linzer and his team scour newspapers, shows and Pacific Avenue throughout the year to find “hard-working and talented kids” for the Young Performers Showcase. There is certainly no shortage, and this year’s benefit features singer-songwriter Bridget Johnson (pictured), teen rockers Almost Chaos, classical guitarist JP McShane, a cappella singers The Hightones, vocalist Alysha Antonino, hip-hop dancing, ballet, ukulele, juggling and more. Along with ticket sales, a raffle, donation-matching by local philanthropists (David Kaun, and Rowland and Pat Rebele), and a silent auction will pool finances to directly support music, instruments and instrument repair in local schools. In its first two installations, the concert raised more than $20,000. Community involvement seems to have grown exponentially—and hopefully so will the funds raised.
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 9. Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $8-40. 423-8209.