Arts Leaders “Jump Right In” to a Residency in Kentucky


“Jump right in!” a young lady with long brown hair belts out from the stage, her foot tapping as she dances along with the music, “Let the music pull you in, jump right in!”

The more than 500 middle and high school students in the audience here in Hazard, Kentucky are very familiar with this popular country song by superstar group The Zac Brown Band. They are lip-syncing along, heads bobbing in time with the music. However, instead of seeing it with the familiar rock band instruments – guitars and drums – this arrangement features piano, saxophones, violins, cello, clarinet, and even a harp.

This is the finale for an assembly that kicked off a week-long From the Top residency in Hazard, a small town in the southeastern corner of Kentucky. From the Top alumni from New Hampshire to Seattle will share music with students from all over Kentucky through workshops and performances – this residency is all about making music together. For example, the assembly featured several local musicians including a young soprano from a musical family (her great aunt is country music legend Loretta Lynn), a teenage pianist and composer who draws inspiration from YouTube, and a saxophone sextet from a nearby high school. We also brought back Seattle’s The Sempre Sisters (Charlotte Marckx and Olivia Marckx, whom our radio listeners will know from Show 297 ) for some fiddling just for this special kick-off event. The residency is made possible by generous support from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust.

The residency was largely created by four From the Top radio alumni. They are all passionate about using music to make a difference, a passion that was ignited by the Arts Leadership Orientation they participated in when they were on our NPR radio show. They are harpist Anna DeLoi from Plaistow, New Hampshire; clarinetist Matt Dykeman from College Park, Maryland, saxophonist Chad Lilley from Olney, Maryland; and violinist Ryan Shannon from Boston, Massachusetts. They worked together to develop and present two full-day music workshops on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then present an Arts Leadership workshop on Thursday. Throughout the week, they built their own professional toolkit for arts leadership, collecting skills to facilitate learning in this community and beyond.

As the assembly wound down, and as the last school bus pulled away from the Hal Rogers Arts Center, our Arts Leaders were ready to “jump right in” and enjoy an amazing week of music-making. We’ll keep you posted on what they learned!

Check out this great feature on our Kentucky residency by WYMT TV! See it here.

Special thanks to the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust for their support.