Friends and family enjoy the musical stylings of youth ages 8 to 18

Published in the August 30 – September 12, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life

Photo by Heather Faulhaber
From left, Majhon Phillips, Esha K., and Sarina Sharma, perform a song during Rock for a Reason.

As a crimson sun sank behind El Toro, guests enjoyed wine, Mexican cuisine and musical performances by a talented group of young performers at San Martin’s Miramar Vineyards the evening of Saturday Aug. 19.

With a theme this year of “A Night at the Movies,” the third annual Rock for a Reason show raised money for Morgan Hill Community Foundation projects that benefit the South Valley region. About 20 children between the ages of 8 and 18 performed on instruments and with vocals.

“We started the show because we wanted to give our children the opportunity to perform with professional musicians,” said Majhon Phillips, director of Music As Language, which organized the event. “This show creates a whole band setting so they get to be professionals for a day — and it’s just really exciting for them. And on top of it, it’s bringing out so many people from professionals to our students. It’s really connecting people in our community.”

Arjun Bharadhwaj, 13, plays a piece from the movie “La La Land.” He dedicated his performance to his mother, who he said loved the movie.
Photo by Marty Cheek

Starting off the Rock for a Reason show was 13-year-old pianist Arjun Bharadhwaj who performed a solo on the piano, masterfully entertaining the audience of about 50 people with his rendition of the romantic jazz melody “Mia and Sebastian” from the 2016 film “La La Land.”

“I just think it’s a really beautiful song and it’s for my mom because she really enjoyed the movie and I wanted to do it for her,” he said.

Bharadhwaj started playing the piano seven years ago and feels a deep passion for creating music.

“When I play I just get into it and I really lose myself in the world of the piano. I forget about everything around me,” he said. “I have performed in a few other shows. And all of them have been spectacular experiences and I have enjoyed each and everyone of them.”

He’s proud that he and the other Music As Language students teamed up to share their music with the audience to raise funds for the Morgan Hill Community Foundation.

“I really feel that I’m not just doing a good thing for me but I’m doing a good thing for charity,” he said. “And I’m really happy to be doing this. It’s really a good opportunity.”

Nine-year-old Leah Thomas sang the song “I See Fire” from “The Hobbit.” She enjoys sharing the gift of pop song music with others.

“I love singing. It just makes me feel happy,” she said. “I feel confident and happy.”

She encourages other children to try out singing.

“If it makes me feel happy then it will just make them feel happy, too,” she said.

The other students who performed at the 2017 Rock for a Reason show are: Josh Thomas, Sarina Sharma, Kavita Sundaram, Nikhil Sharma, Sandhya Sundaram, Anika Prasad, Emily Hansen, Esha K. and Claire Huang, Kyle Strenfel, Sophia Roberts, Ivory Walters, Ishani Sikdar, David Africa, Gemma Pott, Haley Torres, Sophia Campbell, Neeya Devanagondi, Danielle Pangan, Erik Mintz, Srikanth Pillai, Morgan Pott, Oliver Pott.

The students were accompanied by professional band members Danny Grez on bass, Brandon Walters on drums, Esha K. playing guitar, drums and keys, Brian Gibbs on guitar, Heather Faulhaber on keys, and Majhon Phillips on keys.

P.A. Walsh STEAM Academy Principal Teresa Sermersheim attended the show with her daughter, Flore, and their friend Teri Larice and her son, Cris Larice. She was impressed by the quality of musical talent shown by the young people who performed.

“I think it helps keep music and the arts alive, and that’s an important thing,” she said. “And children need a chance to express themselves and we in the audience get to be a part of it all. It’s a mutually wonderful event.”

Last year’s event was held at the Morgan Hill Community Center with the theme “Dancing Through the Decades.” Miramar Vineyards owner Ed Castro attended and suggested the 2017 event could be held on the stage area of his winery.

Money raised came from a silent auction, a 50-50 pot drawing, the purchase of clothes merchandise and donations. The Modern Woodmen of America fraternal financial pledged to match proceeds up to $2,500. Phillips told the audience the Morgan Hill Community Foundation was chosen as the recipient because of its involvement helping organizations that benefit the entire South Valley region.

“We are grateful to support the efforts of the Morgan Hill Community Foundation this year,” she said. “These amazing people do incredible work in our area. They seem to have a hand in almost everything good and generous coming out of Morgan Hill.”

The show was a bit international, with grandparents from Taiwan and India attending, showing that music is a language that transcends geography, she said.

“Music doesn’t see color religion creed or background,” she said. “Here we are one people, a unified force that can help others and help strengthen society and our world.”

Marty Cheek

Marty Cheek

Publisher at Morgan Hill Life
Marty Cheek is the publisher of Morgan Hill Life and Gilroy Life. He is also the co-author with Congressman Jerry McNerney of the book Clean Energy Nation: Freeing America From the Tyranny of Fossil Fuels.
Phone: (408) 782-7575
Marty Cheek