Students on a musical ride with instruments of hope Private schools flying donations to Caribbean
Toronto Star, Frank Calleja, Staff Reporter
Feb 27, 2006

TUNING UP: Students, left to right, Frederick Tang, 19, and Andrew Brankley, 15, both of St. Andrew's College, and Sarah Colangelo, 18, of Bayview Glen School, inspect instruments going to a Dominican Republic school. The sound of music at a school in the Dominican Republic is pulling at the heartstrings of a group of Toronto and area students.

But at the moment, the melodies at the Elila Mena Arts School near Santo Domingo are muted because the 1,000 students, aged 8-14, have only 40 usable instruments to share, says OAC student Sarah Colangelo.

So Colangelo and 11 other music students at Bayview Glen School in Don Mills have organized an instrumental airlift to Elila Mena.

The students will jet off to the Dominican Republic on March 10 for eight days to personally present more than 100 donated tubas, trombones, violins, bagpipes, drums, guitars, French horns, clarinets, recorders and other musical items to the school.

They'll also take 60 specially designed T-shirts, donated by Roots Canada, which students say will be hot items among the children.

"It's a wonderful project that began at Bayview Glen and has expanded to include six (more) independent schools," Bayview Glen music director Aris Grammacione said yesterday.

Students from Ridley College in St. Catharines, St. Andrew's College in Aurora, Country Day School in King City, Pickering College, Royal St. George's College and Upper Canada College in Toronto, and several Toronto music shops have made contributions.

An assembly to update students on the project and other community works scheduled for the Dominican Republic was held yesterday at Bayview Glen, with representatives from the other schools in attendance.

"We have new instruments, so we contributed our old ones to the project," said Frederick Tang, 19, an OAC student and head of student music at St. Andrew's.

Colangelo, 18, who plays the clarinet, said students at her school have established many ties with communities in the Dominican Republic.

In particular, they're involved with the El Jardin de los Ninos orphanage east of Puerto Plata, which has been operated by Canadian Pauline Tremblay for the past 15 years.

Students have raised thousands of dollars to pay for dental care for the 18 orphans and travelled there to help with a variety of construction projects.