Our first ever `Til Dawn Sing Out at the Fenix on Sunday, December 29 in San Rafael was a great success, with two performances featuring smiles, laughter and an extraordinary array of vocal talent. The event and related alumni fundraising campaign also brought in nearly $4,000 to benefit Youth in Arts programs for teen artists.
The Sing Out was inspired by Mentor Artist Austin Willacy’s experience with The Dartmouth Aires as an undergraduate. Austin wanted to create an annual event that convenes the community of current members and alumni in a way that allows them to connect (or reconnect) with each other and make music.
‘Til Dawn’s first Sing Out brought together current `Til Dawn students and almost 40 alumni, many of whom are working artists, in town for the winter holidays.
New York-based musical theater composer Drew Gasparini and L.A. vocalist Lily Elise performed sets at both shows. Drew shared an impromptu mix of original compositions and familiar medleys, accompanying himself on guitar and chatting amicably with the audience. As he prepared to launch into one tune with “Here is something you all know…” a young fan in the front row shouted out “The ABC Song!” causing Drew to lead the audience in a sing-along of the alphabetical classic.
Lily performed with accompaniment on guitar by Sean Simerly, another `Til Dawn alum. Demonstrating the powerful vocals and heartfelt style that took her to the finals of NBC’s The Voice, she shared beautiful original songs inspired by personal challenges and triumphs.
In addition to donating their performances, alumni artists also helped raise funds for `Til Dawn scholarships and other Youth in Arts teen programs with an online fundraiser leading up to the Sing Out event throughout December and repeated pitches for donations during the show. Speaking of how they had benefitted from `Til Dawn themselves and especially of the value to teens of an amazing mentor like Austin, the group encouraged audiences to support current students with their contributions. The event raised a combined total of $3,900 for Youth in Arts.
Even more impressive, “Still Dawn” was able to perform with only minimal rehearsal hours—testimony to the fact that many `Til Dawn alum are still working artists who sing professionally on a regular basis. Rehearsal was a fun part of the experience, lasting late into the evening with many of the performers seeing each other for the first time in years.
We thank our fabulous alumni artists and current students for all their work in creating the Sing Out and raising funds to support the arts. We look forward to next year!
Scroll down for a gallery of photos by Peter Rodgers from the “Still Dawn” reunion/rehearsal at Youth in Arts.
Click here for video from the Fenix of the Sing Out performances