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On The Blog: A Love Letter to Segerstrom’s Summer at the Center

The art of music is transcendent. Its rhythmic pulse surges through veins causing feet to shuffle, hips to swivel and friends to be made, especially within Segerstrom Center for the Arts’ Summer at the Center program.

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This past Friday, July 29th, The Marconi staff was  personally invited to witness the magic of  music and its  impact on 36 high-risk high school students. Summer at the Center is  a unique five-unit arts program  designed to empower students through active  participation  in the creative process over the coarse of  two weeks.

Students were selected from the Orange County Department of Education’s Alternative,  Community and Correctional Education Schools and Services (ACCESS), and given the  opportunity to build self-esteem and confidence through the power of performance arts – a critical element the late Dr. Maurice Allard believed could change lives and the    reason he founded the program.

This year’s performance was the season’s silver year, celebrating its 25-year anniversary. In  its 25-year run, 730 participants have sang underneath the bright stage lights and have  learned over 47,500 dance steps.

Statistics have shown graduation rates for Summer at the Center participants have exceeded  those of their peers, and participants have improved grade point averages and school  attendance.

“It made me realize that I can do more things out there than just dell drugs. I was lost with no one to guide me. My mom was tired of looking for me with my gang member friends, but now she sees the respectful gentleman she raised. Thanks to Summer at the Center!” — Emmanual 2014

The Marconi Foundation for Kids would like to give a HUGE round of applause for Segerstrom and its work with at-risk children throughout Orange County. It’s an honor to support the Segerstrom Center for the Arts and look forward to a very long and musically influenced relationship.

There is no greater gift than being able to physically see donor’s dollars hard at work and making a difference, thank you Segerstrom!

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Now, a personal love letter from a Marconi Automotive Museum staff member to Segerstrom’s Summer at the Center program.

Dear Summer at the Center staff, participants and everyone else who made it possible:

This year’s performance was my first experience at the Segerstrom AND as an audience member for the Summer at the Center production. I had no idea what to expect. After I took my seat and lights began to dim, I was pleasantly surprised this show would not be a quiet one.

Current art students lined the top tier of Samueli Theater and showed the crowd how to properly express gratitude for the actors’ performance–loud hooting, clapping, and fist-pumping were encouraged at any moment because no impending shhhh would be allowed. If you felt inspired to kick off your shoes and stand up in your seat to get your groove on, all the better. This was my kinda party!

In honor of the program’s 25th year the opening act was a mash-up of songs from previous openers of each year. The students and teachers came out, dancing, jumping and playing “pass the mic” as each kid took turns singing portions of each song. Performers hummed classical ballads written by Bach and Beethoven, to belting out the hits from rock and roll icons like Elvis Presley and Tina Turner, finishing the segment with The Isley Brother’s SHOUT!

And this when the audience came alive.

As soon as the song’s iconic beat bled through the speakers, my rump was out of my chair and my hands thrown up in the air [waving like I just didn’t care.] Cast, crew, audience members and the professional cheering team on the top tier all stood and got “a little bit softer now [shout]” twisting lower to the floor and then back up again to get, “a little bit louder now [SHOUT].” 

In this collaborative moment between students and audience, the impact of your program flooded over me and took my breathe away. I grew up with the opportunity to express myself  in the performance arts all through school, and I never realized how lucky I was to have that outlet until Friday night, where I was able to see the kids’ faces changing by the minute-gaining more confidence; their smiles infectious. I didn’t know any of the young participants personally, but I was overwhelmingly proud of each and every one of them.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for putting in the time and effort to make this program possible. It was such a gift to see the positive influence music had left on the kids after two weeks and listen to them express how it has helped show them they are capable of anything they put their mind to. A whopping visual the arts can change lives.

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If you haven’t gotten a chance to see the Summer at  the Center performance, mark it on your calendar for next year. Looking to donate to a good cause? The Marconi Foundation for Kids suggests to support Segerstrom Center for the Arts, the organization has The Marconi stamp of approval (in the shape of a Ferrari, of course)!


The Marconi Automotive Museum and Foundation for Kids is a class 501 (c)(3) nonprofit and a special events venue located in the heart of Orange County–its best kept secret. Net proceeds from museum visitors and booked events are donated to local at-risk children charities throughout Southern California.

The museum is open Monday-Friday from 9am-4:30pm to the public if a private event isn’t booked, check our website calendar. If you’d like to get more information about hosting an event at The Marconi, please call one of the museum’s event coordinators at 714.258.3001

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