‘One girl can light a candle:’ Students use music to tell the story of Anne Frank

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A tech rehearsal for The Passion of Anne Frank at Grand Arts HS in downtown Los Angeles

IMG_4682 For years, the Ramón C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts downtown,  nicknamed by those who know it as “Grand Arts,” has struggled to find  and keep a principal and make its place in the community. The imposing  futuristic structures that comprise this campus look like dramatic  cousins to the Disney Concert Hall up the street.

Now, a new show called “The Passion of Anne Frank” will allow the public to step onto the campus . Inside the gorgeous 1000-seat theater, 125 high school  students were recently rehearsing a musical that they’re not just  performing, but that they wrote. With the help of some instructors on  loan from the LA Master Chorale, over the last several months they’ve  been working on this production, in teams, to craft the music and the resulting libretto . The resulting oratorio is based on the story of Anne Frank  (with permission from the foundation that minds her legacy.)

A tech rehearsal for The Passion of Anne Frank at Grand Arts HS in downtown Los Angeles
15-year old Eileen Gurrido of Downey sings the role of Anne Frank
Eileen Garrido of Downey sings the role of Anne Frank

Fifteen-year old Eileen Garrido, who says she hopes to study at Juilliard some day and to become a professional classical singer, said she was thrilled when she learned the piece students would be constructing had to do with Frank. Garrido says Frank’s spirit has buoyed her as she herself as grappled with her own struggles–being born with a disease that’s required three open-heart surgeries.

I asked her what she hopes the audience will take away from the oratorio. “I hope everyone will go home and be grateful for what they have,” she said.

The Passion of Anne Frank, Thursday Jan. 22 at noon and Friday Jan. 23 at 7pm, Grand Arts High School, 450 N. Grand Avenue downtown. Free. Details here. A short video on the LA Master Chorale program at the school is here. The libretto is here.