The Open String was founded in 2014 by master violinmaker Robert Brewer Young, along with Lucien Jamey, and Elfin Vogel, as a volunteer-based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization for supporting musical talent and education. Its primary activity is the String Drive program, under which it collects and distributes string instruments and related supplies to the frontline of the music education movement. This is achieved through partnerships with Enriching Lives through Music in San Rafael, The Alameda Music Project in Alameda, Music Team in South San Francisco, and Music Mission in San Francisco. Approximately 300 children have benefitted in 2015 through the delivery of nearly 90 violins, violas, and cellos to students in need.
The organization was inspired by the El Sistema model of music education, using the study and performance of music to inspire youth to achieve excellence in all facets of their lives. In other words music has the power to inspire change in troubled areas around the world. In this regard Director of Development Jamey has observed, “It’s been shown many times over that youth orchestras are correlated with a reduction in poverty and crime by steering kids away from gangs and offering other options through music. Today there are over 400 El Sistema programs worldwide serving close to one million young musicians.”
This year The Open String is initiating a fundraising movement with the intention of it becoming an annual event. This is being called a “Grant Concert;” and it will be held at the beginning of next month. Guest performers will include Amos Yang, Assistant Principal Cello for the San Francisco Symphony since 2007, Swiss violin soloist, conductor, and composer Gilles Colliard, and avant-garde cellist Zoë Keating. (Keating is also a composer. Those who have been following the television series Manhattan will recognize her name from the opening credits.) They will perform on The Guadagnini Quartet, a special set of instruments created by Young based on the finest work of the great Italian master Giovanni Battista Guadagnini. The making of these instruments was completed in 2014.
The Grant Concert will be hosted by the Grand Theater at 2665 Mission Street in the Mission. It will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 8, with a special reception for VIP ticket holders at which aperitifs and hors d’oeuvres will be served. Doors will open for the general public at 7:30 p.m.. The concert will begin at 8 p.m. and is expected to last for about 90 minutes. Details of the program have not yet been announced. VIP tickets are being sold for $95. Priority seating for the general public will be $68, and the remaining tickets are $48. Tickets at all levels may be purchased (with a service fee) from an Eventbrite event page. The Web page has also been set up to accept additional donations. 100% of the proceeds will serve to fund The Open String’s Annual Grant Program.