The TSO welcomes Leadership by Design to the concert hall

This past December, the TSO invited students and parents from the Lifelong Leadership Institute’s Leadership By Design (LBD) initiative to experience Handel’s Messiah as part of their ongoing exploration of performing and visual arts.

Making time amid the chaotic holiday rush, the group joined us for the first performance of this season’s run of Handel’s celebrated oratorio. The large-scale work could be considered a bit ambitious for first-timers, but both students and parents from LBD were up to the challenge. This is not entirely surprising, given that Leadership by Design works to provide high-performing youth in the African-Caribbean community with a wide range of opportunities to inspire, develop, and practise effective leadership. It gives students at least seven years of development support that spans their high-school and university/college years, starting in Grade 10.

Participants are strongly encouraged to engage with their city and all it has to offer. As student David Yorrick explains, arts and culture events fit perfectly into that philosophy: “Musical performances are so important because they can communicate across barriers like language, class, and culture. They can broaden your awareness and invoke emotions that help you learn and appreciate different and unfamiliar art forms. And as a bonus, it can reduce stress when you have the opportunity to really relax and just take in and enjoy a performance.”

Attending concerts, like December’s Messiah, also helps students familiarize themselves with the different aspects and styles of performing arts within the larger cultural community. Student Kendra Austin made a point of noting the venue differences and how they help to amplify and enhance the performance and sound, and spoke to us about the placement of the different instrument sections and vocalists and how that all comes together to maximize the work being performed.

The size and grandeur of Handel’s beloved oratorio proved irresistible to high-schooler Raine Garrell. "I have never seen a choir that large! 120 years old with 150 members! So much to take in and learn." Garrell strongly believes that attending live musical performances and cultivating an appreciation of the arts helps to build and develop so many essential skills that can impact every aspect of life.

A huge thank you to everyone from Leadership By Design who joined us in December. We hope to welcome you back soon!

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