Inspiring the community through music

Eastman to Go inspires the
community through music

Like his fellow Eastman School of Music students, Evan Ritter ’18E, an applied music major specializing in piano, is passionate about his craft and about being a part of community of exceptional artists.

“Here at Eastman, you can get to know someone who is working on an avant-garde film, run into a classmate who just played Carnegie Hall, or meet someone who gives lessons in the community,” says Ritter. “This is the kind of place that makes you want to do more with your music.”

Enter Eastman to Go—a community outreach program that does just this.

Formerly known as Eastman for All, Eastman to Go has been a part of the Eastman student experience for over 20 years. The program gives music students the opportunity to share their talent and love of music with audiences of all ages throughout the Greater Rochester Area.

Ritter and his piano trio have played together since their first year at Eastman. They have performed for school-age children and senior citizens as part of Eastman to Go. “Playing for these audiences, regardless of their ages, has been incredibly profound,” he says. “These experiences have shown me that music can really be a powerful, positive force in anyone’s life.”

For instance, after performing Beethoven for a group of local fifth-graders, Ritter and his trio used Star Wars characters to explain the different sections of the musical piece to the students. Ritter says he knew he made a difference when one of the students told him, “Whenever I listen to music now, I can close my eyes and see Anakin Skywalker fighting a light saber battle in different scenes.”

While he hopes to inspire these students to pursue music, Ritter’s ultimate goal—and the goal of the Eastman to Go program—is to foster an attitude of appreciation. “With music, I hope to instill a love of all things beautiful and emotional and that are hard to describe with words,” he says. “I want someone to go from saying ‘This music isn’t for me,’ to ‘I’m able to find something cool or meaningful to me in this piece’.”

His Eastman to Go holiday concert in a skilled nursing community further demonstrated the power of music and the program’s effect on its audiences. The trio performed for residents with severe mental illness.

Most patients were seated in their wheelchairs, not really understanding where they were. However, when Ritter and his fellow musicians began to play Christmas carols, something amazing happened. “As soon as we started playing, the patients began to wheel themselves towards us and sing along,” he says. “It was an incredibly powerful moment.”

For Ritter, who is currently applying to graduate programs, Eastman to Go has reinforced the importance of engaging with the community—something that is an important part of the University of Rochester experience.

“There’s a world there full of people who need what music can offer,” he says. “This program gives them that.”

Eastman to Go

This video features Evan Ritter and other Eastman to Go musicians as well as community members who have benefitted from what the program offers.

Music as inspiration
Learn more about Eastman to Go here, and view upcoming University of Rochester events in your community here.

—Amy Gallo, January 2018

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