MyCincinnati Free Youth Orchestra

Learn how a trip to the Middle East changed one photographer's approach to storytelling while another uses drawing to explore her Paraguayan roots. Then see how one Cincinnati musician is shaking up the idea of what it means to be successful in musicianship and how 29 artists have built a creative collaboration under a single roof.

AIRED: September 08, 2018 | 0:26:46


>> male announcer: In this

edition of "KPBS Arts," a

photographer seeks

everyday moments.

An artist discovers her roots.

Learning the meaning

behind music.

And creating art from space.

It's all ahead on this

edition of "KPBS Arts."


>> BJ Robinson: Hello, I'm BJ

Robinson and this

is "KPBS Arts."

With the click of her camera,

photographer Connie Frisbee

Houde captures stunning

images across the world.

Based in Albany, New York, this

photojournalist discovered her

method of storytelling after a

trip to the Middle East.

>> Connie Frisbee Houde: When I

first went to Afghanistan in

2003 and I got back, I realized

I had very few photographs of

the women because, to me, I was

not seeing--I didn't see a face.

I just saw this blob, this

ghost, this, you know.

So the second time I went, I

wanted to be much more conscious

of photographing the women as

they saw themselves, which

is dressed in the burka.

I don't try and hide that I'm a

photographer 'cause I just think

that's not fair to the people

that you're trying

to take pictures of.

But I also don't want to do the

posed, crummy smile,

that kind of thing.

I wanna capture people as

they're doing something.

These women were feeding the

pigeons and it just seemed like

a contrast to me of these women

covered and the pigeons

are so free.

So it was just a contrast.

I'm looking at the light,

I'm looking at the people.

What is it that strikes me as

interesting but I also try to

say, "What's the everyday

thing," as well 'cause I don't

wanna just photograph

the odd things.

I wanna photograph

the everyday things.

Street market.

This is in Herat.

Often, women feel like they need

to have a male family member

walking with them so this could

be a son that's traveling

with these two women.

This is my green-eyed girl

and she's in a internally

displaced camp.

This is a family that probably

came back to Kabul.

They might have wanted to go to

their own land but they don't

own land in the same way that we

own land with a deed, and so

anybody else could be on their

land and then they're stuck

with no place to go.


>> Connie: I think that, you

know, if somebody were to take

my cameras away from me, I don't

think that would stop me from

traveling and learning and

gaining that part of it.

I think what I would miss would

be the opportunity to share

it with others.

I'm not a writer like some

people could describe it in

words and that is not--that's

just not my way so the camera

is my extension of being able

to share that.


>> Connie: You can read things

in the newspaper, you can read

books, you can read, you know,

listen to people talk about it,

and it's just--it's not the same

as really walking the streets

and really meeting the people.

After Hurricane Katrina, I went

down with our church and worked

in Mississippi and New Orleans.

It just hit me in the gut when I

saw the Ninth Ward, that this

was like a war-torn area.

It was just like Afghanistan.

So then I started to put photos

together, you know, each one has

its own sort of sister image.

You know, this part of this

metal whatever it is here with

the destroyed houses behind

and this kid's toy just out

on the street, you know.

The typical thing that you saw

in Afghanistan were the

pockmarked walls of all of the

gunshots, you know, whatever

caused those pockmarks, and then

here you have the dried mud and

probably whatever animal that

is that remained.

These were three of the people

that were down when we were

in New Orleans doing work.

And this was our R&R fun

afterwards and New Orleans is

masquerade, the whole idea.

And it just seemed to fit to me

with the whole idea of the women

in the burkas and that we play

around with masks

in a different way.

But it just--people to people is

what it's about to me, is seeing

these--the relationship,

the contrast, the similarities.


>> Connie: In the end,

we're just all people.

We're all the same.

>> BJ: To see more of

this artist's work, visit

And now, here's a look at

some of the arts events

happening around San Diego.

>> BJ: Drawing is an opportunity

for artist Gabriela Riveros

to express her culture.

A native of Milwaukee,

Wisconsin, she traveled hundreds

of miles to discover

her Paraguayan roots.

Up next, see how she

incorporates her heritage

into her designs.


>> Gabriela Riveros: I am

Gabriela Riveros and I grew up

on the west side of Milwaukee,

born and raised, and my parents

are from Asunción, Paraguay.


>> Gabriela: So growing up, I

always kind of been into drawing

and then I happened to go

or be lucky enough to go to

schools that specialized in art.

So amounting to my college

career, I thought illustration

was the best fit because my

drawings always told

a story of some sort.


>> Gabriela: So my designs, I

like to focus on, like,

history and culture.

I'm really into heritage,

especially Latino heritage, so I

try to integrate as much, like,

history and, kind of like,

lineage and I research a lot of

tradition and, kind of like,

re-translate that into

something that people can

relate to modern-day.

Recently, my biggest inspiration

is, like, Latino literature so I

really draw my inspirations

from, like, the past.

For my audience, though, I'm

really inspired by people like

me who want to know more about

their identity and, kind of

like, connect more with that

'cause I think a lot of times

children kind of lose their,

like, cultural roots.

I first started really getting

into it when I actually went

back to Paraguay and then I've

been just taking notes and,

like, creating art while I was

there and soaking up, just like,

their own traditions that I

would normally, kind of like,

look past and just do.

And then doing on my own time,

researching, like, Paraguayan

history and art and

understanding where everything

comes from that we have present

in our culture, like all the

indigenous roots and the, like,

Spanish roots and how all of

those combine.

I think I really love, kind of

like, the mythology 'cause

Paraguayans are like--well,

they're like the ultimate

mestizo for the most part, but

like the indigenous is Guarani

and the Guarani traditions and,

like, culture is very present

with us so one of my favorite

things I take away from that is

all the old tales and I love all

the art along with it.

They do a lot of traditional

weavings and they have these

really special delicate weavings

that I incorporate a lot into my

work as, like, an inspiration.


>> Gabriela: So the ones that

I've done that have been most

important to me was--probably be

some pieces from my undergrad


There was one that I made that

was very conceptual.

It was about Day of the Dead and

it was this young girl that was,

kind of, reconnecting with her

roots and she had a bunch of,

like, José Posada skeletons

dancing around her.

And after that was, like, "Oh,

like, I really liked the way

this looks," so I guess that was

one of my most important pieces

that kind of launched the series

of my current work.

I have worked with Colectivo

Coffee, Café Corazon.

I recently just worked with this

non-profit called Noxtin out of


Milwaukee Film Festival, this

year they wanna do something

crazy, colorful, and detailed,

so they were trying to look for

an artist that fit that bill.

So I had a professor that

recommended me so we linked up

and they said, "Oh, your work's

perfect for this."

The theme of it was the wild

side of Milwaukee.

So my main inspiration for that

piece was medieval art so the

main layout is based off

Hieronymus Bosch's "Garden of

Earthly Delights," the center

panel, where it's kind of like

this heavenly landscape.

If you know your history well,

you'll notice, like, medieval

beasts that I've, kind of,

re-interpreted as Milwaukee


And then I was also inspired by

jewelries which were

medieval--they were like really

weird medieval doodles in the

margins of illuminated



>> Gabriela: So I usually start

my drawings on paper and then I

scan them in the computer and

then with the computer I

basically draw and paint


I start out with the research.

That's always my base so I,

like, read--I have a subject I'm

kind of interested in knowing

more about so I research it and

then I do a lot of drawing and I

collect a lot of images and I

just keep drawing 'til I find

the composition I like and then

I transform it into, like, an


I always encourage younger

people to just, kind of, don't

be afraid to experiment and try

out new things 'cause you never

know it could push your work in

a whole new direction.

>> Gabriela: I'm torn between

the actual researching part and

then, like, the final piece

'cause it feels really good when

I have--just see it all finished

and pristine.

It's really cool seeing more of

the audience come out and relate

and connect with my work.

I love it when other Latinos

come up to me and are saying,

like, "Oh, I love this.

Like, this is--like, this

is--identify with it and I'm,

like, "Awesome.

That's my goal."

Ha, ha.


>> BJ: See more of Gabriela

Riveros's artwork online at


>> BJ: With the playing of each

string, composer and performer

Eddy Kwon is teaching the power

of music.

See how he's helping his own

Cincinnati, Ohio, community

think outside the box, tune by


>> Eddy Kwon: What does the 21st

century artist look like?

It's a great question.


>> Eddy: I think the old model

of Conservatory training which

is try to get really good at

your instrument and hope you get

a job in an orchestra, that is

already dead and gone.

It was difficult.

It is even more difficult now.

Some might say impossible.

So if you're looking from a

purely career-oriented

perspective, that model of

musicianship, of professional

musicianship, doesn't make


So you need to branch out.


>> Eddy: You need to make

yourself more accessible.

You need to make yourself more

able to connect with diverse

communities, communities with

different needs, artistic,

social needs, and you have to be

able to work with people.

And you have to be able to work


>> Eddy: Hi, my name is Eddy


I'm the director of


MYCincinnati is a free daily

youth orchestra program for

children in Price Hill.

Price Hill has historically been

a working class community.

It's an interesting time to be

in Price Hill as part of the

MYCincinnati community because

Price Hill is going through some

pretty significant changes.

And we have a unique vantage

point as artists in the

neighborhood and as musicians in

the neighborhood and as teaching

artists that are working with

children, to be a unifying force

for the community and to be an

opportunity for folks in the

neighborhood to come together to

connect over their shared

humanity and to work together

towards a common goal which,

hopefully, and should align with

the goals of the residents.

So a majority of our students in

MYCincinnati are young people of

color, many of whom come from

immigrant families.

So while all experiences are

varied and different and nuanced

in very, very important ways,

I've found that my background as

a child of immigrants and as a

person of color allowed me

unique opportunities and paths

to connect with my students in

important ways.

I am beyond grateful for my time


It's difficult to imagine what I

would be like and what my life

would be like without




>> Eddy: So MYCincinnati has

around 100 students, a little

over 100 students, enrolled.

The vast majority of those

students are coming to orchestra

every single day.

So if you were to walk into our

program building at peak hour,

you would see, you know, at

least two orchestras rehearsing

downstairs, all of the practice

rooms filled with private

lessons happening or mini


Upstairs, you would see another

orchestra performing in one

room, you would see a sectional

happening in the hallway.

You'd see another sectional

happening in the conference


You'd see some mini lessons

happening in the back corner


You'd see the winds happening in

another room.

So really, when you come in,

there's just this unstoppable

and fluid movement of music

happening at all times.

>> female: I like that this is

somewhere safe that I can come

to after school, like, without

being judged by anybody else.

>> male: And also it's free.

I, like, at school, I have to

pay for lessons and--but here

it's mostly free.

>> male: They taught me how to

be a leader, how to lead and how

to picture yourself as a teacher

and as a student, to see both

sides of the spectrum.

>> female: Like, a lot of the

younger kids.

I think some of 'em are getting

the idea that music is a very

powerful tool and some of 'em,

it takes time.

Think some of 'em are getting

that idea, that music is

powerful enough to spark a


>> Eddy: All right, bravo.

Can we give Zion a rumble



>> Eddy: The adult orchestra is

one of my favorite new additions

to MYCincinnati.

The adult orchestra is led by

Laura Jekyll who was the founder

of MYCincinnati.

And it came--it came about

pretty organically.

The only qualification is you

live in the neighborhood;

otherwise, just like

MYCincinnati, it is a completely

free program and we provide all

of the instruments.

So right now, Laura's orchestra

has around 35 adults, some of

whom are MYCincinnati parents,

which is very cool, but mostly

just neighborhood residents.

The kids are, at this point,

definitely better than the


Laura will sometimes ask some of

the older MYCincinnati students

that have parents in the

orchestra to help out, to

demonstrate, to model good

position, to play along.

So that's a really cool

opportunity so the kids have a

chance to be the teachers.


>> Eddy: I think one of the most

profoundly beautiful things

about music and the kind of

music that we're playing here is

that music has its own set of

rules and expectations.

And when you're playing a piece

of music, you are, in fact,

stepping into a world that has

its own laws, that has its own

culture, that has its own


And this set of laws is

completely removed from our own,

which means that you have to

expand your imagination enough,

you have to be creative enough,

to commit to being in this

alternate reality,

which is what it is.

And when you do that enough--

>> Eddy: All right,

one more time.

>> Eddy: You are then given the

kinds of tools that are required

to make that subtle shift in

your thinking.

>> Eddy: First note should be

like a bomb, boom!


>> Eddy: What can be different

about my life?

What more can I imagine for

myself and for my family and for

my community, for my school?

So in order to do something

expressive, you need to use a

particular kind of technique.

What music does is that it

presents you with that

opportunity to ask that question

and then it gives you concrete

steps to get there.

>> BJ: To discover more about

MYCincinnati, head to

And now, here's a look at more

arts events

coming up around San Diego.

>> BJ: Now, we go inside a South

Florida warehouse that was

transformed into a unique art


Hear what inspired 29 artists to

join this creative collaboration

in Fort Lauderdale.


>> Lisa Rockford: Rough & Tumble

was inspired by the space that

this exhibit is housed within

because it's a very raw

warehouse space.

It's about 8000 square feet and

it's really ideal for projects

that are more experimental and

rough, you know.

A lot of these projects that

you'll see in the exhibit were

made specifically for this


So I gave the artists my

definitions of both "rough" and

"tumble" and they were supposed

to be inspired by that.

So some of the works were made

beforehand and other ones were

made specifically for the show.

>> Leah Brown: This space offers

a lot of challenges and it also

offers a lot of opportunities

because it is so raw and so


So one of the biggest challenges

is actually the height of the


Because this space is so large,

it oftentimes works well to

exhibit works that are hanging.

People's reaction when they walk

in this space is generally,


>> Lisa: As soon as they walk

in, they'll see this, like,

30-foot tank that's made out of

bicycle parts.

It's actually made to be movable

and manned by four different

bicyclists and it kind of goes

in a straight line back and

forth on the street.

But it's kind of in its

conceptual stage right now as a


And, you know, right when you

walk in, there's a giant mouth

made out of ceramic teeth.

>> Leah: There's really not much

else that I know of in South

Florida that's like that.

It's got this wonderful light

during the day from the clear

story windows and the large

garage doors, but then at night

it takes on a completely

different character.

So a lot of the work in this

show actually is

projection-oriented and--

>> Lisa: But then there's also

some interesting intimate works

as well that people can look up

close at.

There are often a lot of

interactive exhibits in here,

like, a few of the pieces in

this exhibit are supposed to be

walked through.

There's a stretchy fabric

installation that's supposed to

look like--it's supposed to be

the idea of flesh and people are

allowed to walk through that, as

well as a couple other pieces

that are in interactive.

So that makes it a little more

approachable for the audience,

to have interactive pieces.

And, you know, having videos,

television is something that

people instantly have a

connection with so that's not

always the kind of thing that

you see in an art museum, that

you do see here in this

exhibition space.


>> BJ: To learn more about this

curator's exhibit, head to

And that wraps it up for this

edition of "KPBS Arts."

For more arts and culture, visit where you'll find

feature videos, blogs, and

information on upcoming arts


Until next time, I'm BJ


Thanks for watching.


♪ I don't know what you

♪ want from me, so careless

♪ in my company.

♪ Oh, if all that you say

♪ is true there'll be no

♪ getting over you.

♪ Slow me down, playing

♪ by your rules.

♪ If you're a joker,

♪ then I'm a fool.

♪ I guess there's

♪ no catching up to you.

♪ If you don't want

♪ my affection,

♪ don't lie,

♪ you're tearing me up.

♪ 'Cause you've got all

♪ my attention.

♪ I won't lie,

♪ you're tearing me up.

♪ I'm trying to

♪ tell your intention.

♪ When you lie,

♪ you're tearing me up.

♪ If you don't want

♪ my affection,

♪ you won't mind,

♪ you're tearing me up. ♪

>> announcer: Support for this

program comes from the KPBS

Explorer Local Content Fund

supporting new ideas and

programs for San Diego.


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