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Updated Jan 7, 2014 - 9:32 am

Phoenix Symphony plays classics for the homeless

Twenty-season veteran of the Phoenix Symphony, Michael Kazepides performs on the double bass at Phoenix's Lodestar Day Resource Center, answering questions about his instrument, the music and the symphony in between songs. (Mark Remillard/KTAR)
PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Symphony is giving back and working to make sure their crafts and talents are accessible to everyone.

Rather than playing in front of some of Arizona's elite, members of the symphony are playing for crowds that rarely have the opportunity to see live entertainment.

Every two weeks, various musicians travel to homeless shelters in Phoenix to play music for the city's less fortunate.

"This is the Phoenix Symphony, this isn't some high brow (or) high art thing that isn't accessible to the general public," Jordan Drum, the interim director of education and community engagement said. "This is something that anyone can listen to and anyone can enjoy."

On Monday, residents at the Lodestar Day Resource Center near West Jackson St. and 9th Ave. received a taste of what the symphony has to offer.

"These performances are about an hour, sometimes more, sometimes less," Drum said. "Often times we'll have a lot of audience members that are really interested and they'll ask a lot of questions."

But while exposing people to the music is one goal of the symphony's visit, it is also about education.

"This is just not an ensemble or type of music that a lot of people get to learn about," Drum said. "They may not know the difference between a trumpet and a French horn, or they may not know the difference between at xylophone and a marimba.

"So not only are we coming out here to entertain and give these folks some high-quality music, but we're also trying to educate the community."

Julliard-trained and a 20-season veteran of the Phoenix Symphony, Michael Kazepides performed at the shelter Monday afternoon and welcomed questions in between songs.

Kazepides informed audience members about his instrument, the double bass, the symphony itself and the music he played.

"I played a lot of Baroque stuff, I played -- on bass we always play Bach, which we steal repertoire from the cello," Kazepides said.

Monday was the first time Kazepides had played at the shelter and said he enjoyed getting some solo times away from his counter parts at the symphony.

"Huge difference," he said. "Hey, I play on my own I get to do what I want."

Kazepides said the response from the listeners was good and he would enjoy playing at the shelter again.

"At first it's a little quiet, (people wondering) ‘why is he playing that bass like a violin and not playing it like a big stand-up acoustic slap bass kind of thing?'" he said. "But (they) seemed to enjoy it."

Drum said they have had several different combinations of musicians that varies each time the symphony comes to play, from clarinets and pianos to string quartets.

He said he's seen a good response whenever the symphony comes and is happy to see the music enjoyed by many different types of people.

"It's not something you (need) several degrees to enjoy, it's not something you have to have been listening to your entire life," he said.

"Every person in any walk of life can get something, whether it's emotional, spiritual or just entertainment, out of music."

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About the Author


A southern California native, Mark Remillard began working in radio in 2010 while in community college as a host of late night and weekend programming for publicly supported 88.5 FM KSBR. While working through college, Mark also interned for the Bill Handel Radio Program at Los Angeles' KFI AM640, where he began his work in journalism. Mark moved to Arizona in August 2012 to finish his bachelor's degree at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and graduated in August 2014. Mark began working as a reporter for KTAR in November 2012.

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