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Barry Manilow gives back to music students in Atlantic City

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Barry Manilow, the legendary musician whose music has stood the test of time andBarry Manilow gives back to music students at Atlantic City. Photos by: Tom Briglia / PhotoGraphics Photography impacted generations and inspiring millions along the way, recently graced the stage in Atlantic City for his only east coast performance last weekend when Caesars Atlantic City  presented, “Barry Manilow with the New York Pops."

The performance showcased the icon’s many hits in addition to songs featured on his new album, “The Greatest Love Songs of All Time.”  Manilow, along with his band and vocalists; shared the spotlight with the country’s largest pops orchestra, the New York Pops, as they performed to a sold out crowd at Boardwalk Hall.

Between songs, Manilow said he was truly happy to be back home and accompanied by the famous 60-piece orchestra.

“This is such a wonderful, exciting evening because not only do I have my usual, talented band of musicians, singers and dancers," says Manilow, "but tonight as you know we are going to be accompanied by the world famous orchestra, the New York Pops with us tonight! If we sound as good tonight as they sounded this afternoon, we’re in for a real, real treat!"

During afternoon rehearsal, not only did Manilow practice with the New York Pops for the first time, he also invited some very lucky musicians behind the scenes, to see the crafting of a live show. The Atlantic City High School  Band, Manilow’s exclusive guests, watched from the edge of the stage as the ultimate showman conducted a professional rehearsal. The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was made possible thanks to Manilow’s ongoing commitment to preserve music education. In 2008 in response to the severely depleted music programs of public schools, Manilow gathered some friends and formed the Manilow Music Project (MMP) as part of his non-profit, Manilow Fund for Health and Hope. The MMP donates instruments and materials to further music education around the country.

This priceless experience is one these students said they will never forget. Sophomore, Genesis Heart, who plays cymbals in the ACHS band, shared her thoughts, “It inspires us to do better in our music, and it’s very interesting for all of us.”

Manilow spent a significant amount of time speaking to the students, as heBarry Manilow gives back to music students at Atlantic City. Photos by: Tom Briglia / PhotoGraphics Photography explained what was happening during the rehearsal on stage, offered advice and words of wisdom. The celebrity meeting has already motivated Heart musically, “It’s very encouraging for us to hear that (advice) from someone at his level and it makes us want to do better.”

Junior, Sarah Martin, who plays saxophone with the ACHS band, says she feels extremely lucky to have had this special opportunity and is still surprised how much the superstar is helping her band, “It’s really cool, the fact that he would do that and take his time out to come over here and talk to us and he’s that famous—it was nice of him.”

Also in awe of Manilow was ACHS band member, Ellis Bonds, who plays the trumpet. The senior recalled, “It’s been a good experience, he gave me a lot of good tips to use in life, so after I graduate high school, I know what to do,” he added, “It’s nice, I mean it’s Barry Manilow so it’s cool!”

Darryl Robinson, the Band Director and Instrumental Music Teacher at ACHS said what his students learned from Manilow was truly unique and unparalleled, “It’s something that we can’t do in the classroom it’s invaluable, the fact that they’re sitting there and they’re watching professional musicians play the instruments that they actually play and then Barry just came down and told them that they’re looking at the music for the first time, it reiterates a lot of the things I talk about in class like sight reading and just how great these musicians are and for these kids to watch them is an invaluable experience.”

Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Manilow attended Eastern District High School, which was voted the country’s most dangerous school. Growing up in a rough neighborhood, Manilow said he couldn’t image how he would have survived had he not been able to take orchestra class.

“I don’t know how to do anything else and if I didn’t have the orchestra class to keep me grounded, I really don’t know what I would have done with my life,” he said in between songs, “and these things over the last couple of years, that I’ve been reading and of course we all know now because of budgetary problems they’re cutting music and arts classes of all the high schools and middle schools and when I heard about that—it just about killed me. And so I do what I can do and that’s what’s going on out there and it’s really terrible so I donate whatever I can.”

The best-selling artist also encouraged all of his fans to give back through a number of different ways by giving or possibly buying older instruments for their former school that might be in disarray today. Manilow also encouraged students go to the Barry Manilow Music Fund, which repairs instruments and sends them out to the various schools.

The Atlantic City's high school music programs will benefit from Manilow’s show by sharing in the proceeds of the special Platinum Experience Tickets. Organizers say proceeds from the Platinum Experience Tickets will go directly to the MMP which will then put instruments into the hands of middle school and high school students in the Atlantic City School District. Acknowledging Manilow’s extraordinary generosity, Robinson states, “It just shows you how unbelievable he is and his group is.”

The memorable experience has allowed the Atlantic City High School band members, the opportunity to learn from a giving artist, the chance to profit artistically and the advantage to grow as musicians. While the captivating music filled Boardwalk Hall, the hearts of the students were also filled with a beautiful melody of hope.

You can reach Veronica Dudo at vdudo@philly2philly.com

Photos by: Tom Briglia / PhotoGraphics Photography 


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