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Behind the scenes: University High Orchestra performs score of “Trafficked in the U.S.” live-to-picture

Ensemble nominated for LAUSD Human Relations Award

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Behind the scenes: University High Orchestra performs score of “Trafficked in the U.S.” live-to-picture

Zoe Byers, Advisor

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In University High’s Macgruder Music Complex, a multi-million dollar facility fitted with the latest recording arts technology, new music teacher, Micah Byers, prepares his classroom for rehearsal. Video and microphone cables of various sizes and colors tangle together and converge into a massive 16-channel mixer, somehow syncing the images of a film projected on-screen above with a click track. The clicks, meant to keep musicians in time with the film, are then transmitted through a headphone amplifier to sets of headphones to be worn by orchestra students on Thursday, April 12, when they will perform the score of the short documentary Trafficked in the U.S. live-to-picture for an assembly of around 800 students. The gripping film features two women from Los Angeles who were trafficked and now work to rescue others who are being trafficked, as well as a score composed by Byers himself. Following the concert, advocate Kayla Henry from A21, a global non-profit working to end modern day slavery and human trafficking, will speak about ways to make a difference. The performance is part of Byers’s initiative to have his classes serve the community through music, and has earned the orchestra a nomination for the LAUSD Human Relations Award. The prestigious award recognizes “exemplary LAUSD student-led efforts in high schools that enhance the culture and climate to promote positive human relations,” according to the LAUSD Commission on Human Relations, Diversity and Equity. Last semester, Byers took orchestra students on a field trip to attend a screening of Stephen Spielberg’s E.T. with a live score performed by the American Youth Symphony at UCLA’s Royce Hall. It was many students’ first time attending such a performance. “They really enjoyed it,” says Byers, who has a background in writing music for film, “and so I thought, why don’t we do that?” Byers scored Trafficked in the U.S. in 2015, and felt that it was a perfect fit to serve the community and for the orchestra’s capabilities. The concert is also made possible by generous grants from the United Talent Agency. “None of this would have been possible without the money they gave us to buy this equipment,” says Byers, referring to microphones, mic stands, mic cables, headphone junction boxes and more. The experience is having a positive impact on students as well. “It’s exciting to have the chance to play to film,” says Uni senior and first violinist Sarai Benitez. “I feel more of a need to practice because the film’s got an important message, and we have to make sure we play well so we can get it through to everyone.”

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Behind the scenes: University High Orchestra performs score of “Trafficked in the U.S.” live-to-picture