Guest post by Barbara A. Ballard
I was never a big fan of American Idol – not because of the lack of talent from the contestants, or because I thought it constituted “bad” music – it just wasn’t my thing. I, like many other people, followed the show enough to root for the home-grown talent from the Lehigh Valley area that made it through the preliminary rounds. I never gave the show much more thought than that, until I met, and began working with, the first person from the Lehigh Valley to make it to the Top 50, Ian Holmes.
Ian, like many other contestants on the show, used it to launch his musical career. While building his connections in the biz on both coasts, Ian began teaching at Community Music School (CMS) in Allentown in 2008. CMS is a non-profit organization which was founded in 1981 by four music teachers. Since then, it has grown to serve more than 1,000 annually in the Lehigh Valley. The organizations offers financial aid to students who want to pursue music studies but are unable to afford it;. Last year alone, CMS provided over $80,000 in financial assistance and scholarships. In addition to offering private lessons & ensemble work, CMS offers music therapy as well as outreach programming in both Allentown & Bethlehem School Districts.
Ian directs the Vocal Fusion group at CMS, which performs pop, rock, soul, & other contemporary selections. He also teaches private lessons in voice and piano. In addition, Ian has led outreach programming at Central Elementary School in Allentown through CMS, providing a chorus ensemble class to students whose music education budgets have been cut. Ian often travels to the West Coast to work with Taboo from the Black Eyed Peas. He performs locally, in Philadelphia and New York City, and has recently joined the Latin Grammy Winning Pop/Rock group Camila.
Before Ian leaves the Valley to go on a nearly two-year world tour with Camila, he will be performing a Benefit Concert for Community Music School, “An Afternoon with Ian Holmes & Friends” on Sunday, November 10, 2 pm at the Rodale Community Room in Miller Symphony Hall. The concert will feature CMS’ student ensemble Fusion, with a reception to follow. A free will offering will be taken at the concert to support CMS programs, and a percentage of all CD sales will also go to CMS. For more information and to reserve your seat, call 610-435-7725.