Use Your Voice

Sound Impact was resident community engagement ensemble for Music in May 2018. Co-founded by Rebecca Jackson, Tiffany Richardson, and Danielle Cho in 2012, Sound Impact is a collective of musicians dedicated to serving communities and igniting positive change through live performance, educational programs, and creative collaboration. Sound Impact’s passion for community engagement brings music into diverse communities including schools, hospitals, homeless centers, juvenile detention centers and orphanages throughout the US and Costa Rica.

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Refugee Camp Concert – Beirut, Lebanon

Rebecca writes about her latest adventure in Lebanon on December 4, 2016. Festival goers will remember Ani Kalayjian from Mim 2012 and Moni Simeonov from earlier this May:

Thank you Moni, Thomas, Ani, Maya, Alejandro, and Ahmad. Without each of you, today’s remarkable outreach would never have been realized.

Cellist Ani Kalayjian, tenor Randall Bills, and mezzo-soprano Kristin Gornstein perform in Said Gawash/Photo credit: Alejandro Gomez-Meade

It all began with instruction from American filmmaker and photographer Alejandro Gomez-Meade: “Here’s the location to tell your Uber or taxi. I’ve chosen this [meeting point] not because it’s the closest but because it’s incredibly easy to find. In Arabic you can tell them Medni Reyadeah and they’ll know. When you see a huge stadium just ask the driver to drop you off in front of it, on the main road. That’s where I’ll be waiting.”

Waiting at the the wrong stadium

We were too many to fit into one, so we traveled in two Ubers: myself, violinist Moni Simeonov, cellist Ani Kalayjian, tenor Randall Bills, and mezzo-soprano Kristin Gornstein. Fingers crossed, we would reunite and meet Alejandro. We made it to the so called stadium but after an hour, even circling the entire stadium, we still didn’t see Alejandro. During our wait on the sidewalk, a kind man came to ask if we were lost and in need of assistance. (How did we ever manage prior to cell phones?) I suppose we were a bit of a spectacle, with our American-Asian-Bulgarian-Armenian looks and matching carbon fiber cases slung on our backs. After a time we found a spot with wifi in a phone store and as we shared our story the friendly and curious employee informed us that we were at the wrong stadium. Oh dear! On the bright side, thankfully both Ubers brought us to the wrong stadium. On wifi we finally connected with Alejandro who made his way towards us. Continue reading

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Sound Impact outreach in Costa Rica

Donations for Costa Rican music students!

Teaching in Liberia

Rebecca Jackson first met cellist Danielle Cho when she was featured at Music in May 2011. Danielle and Rebecca went on to perform music together in many different settings and eventually, along with violist Tiffany Richardson (Mim 2016), founded Sound Impact, a collective of musicians dedicated to to empowering, connecting, and engaging diverse communities through music. Rebecca and Danielle just returned from Sound Impact’s 3rd annual tour to Costa Rica where they taught, performed and transported musical donations to several schools including La Carpio, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country. Music in May is excited to welcome back Danielle Cho for the 2017 season!

La Carpio

Sound Impact and students side by side.

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Outreach in Santa Fe

By Rebecca Jackson

I have long admired the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and so it’s an honor to be a part of their outreach in the schools. I joined cellist Felix Fan, violist Kim Fredenburgh, and beloved Mim violinist L.P. How performing a program featuring strings quartet repertoire. Throughout the year, the Festival provides Santa Fe and Pecos public school students as well as students at Santa Clara Pueblo Day School with live musical performances they would otherwise have limited or no opportunity to experience. In the last week, the string quartet performed for 4,000 kids! The work accomplished by the SFCMF through individuals like its director of education and outreach, Deborah Ungar, is an inspiration to Mim to continue to expand its work for youth in Santa Cruz County.  In celebration of our 10th Anniversary in 2017, Music in May will present monthly outreach concerts starting next month. L.P. will join me to perform violin duos for the youth at Juvenile Hall. Thank you to Lynn Kidder for donating her keyboard which will allow us to perform repertoire with piano and also offer workshops.


Now I’m on my way to Costa Rica to join the Sound Impact team on its 3rd annual tour to exchange musical gifts with many kids across the country. Special thanks to Deborah Ungar, The Violin Shop of Santa Fe, Mike Brinegar, and Robertson Violins for the unexpected donations of strings, shoulder rests, and tailpieces for the music students in Costa Rica!

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Conversations with Chee-Yun, Bridget, and Jonah

Learn more about our guest artists Chee-Yun, Bridget, and Jonah to be featured at the upcoming 9th Annual Music in May. Don’t miss hearing three superstars making music together for the first time this May!

Chee-Yun Kim

What are your first musical memories?

JK: I remember listening to a few specific pieces as a child. Arpeggione sonata played by Slava and Benjamin Britten, Beethoven 109 by Pollini, Mahler Das Lied von der Erde, don’t remember which record- and finally lots of Spanish guitar, mostly Tarrega played by Narciso Yepes. More pieces from early childhood: Beethoven 130, especially Cavatina and Mahler 4 with Kathleen Battle, also lots of Orlando di Lassus.

CYK: …watching my sister playing the piano. I loved hanging out underneath the piano while she played.

BK: Born and raised in Ohio, my parents were always driving through the night or over the weekends, to take us three Kibbey kids to hear the Chicago Symphony to the Ramsey Lewis Trio for a New Year’s Eve midnight set…I felt so cool staying up late with the big kids, let alone getting to hear such diverse live music from a young age.

What made you/makes you fall in love with music? Continue reading

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“Set free from myself” – 2015 Visit to Juvenile Hall

Much beloved return performers included pianist Christine McLeavey Payne, cellist Jonah Kim, violist Alexandra Leem, and violinist/violist L.P. How.  Making their Mim debuts were the acclaimed Danish pianist Katrine Gislinge and violinist Martin Beaver, formerly of the Tokyo String Quartet and luminary in the chamber music world. At near capacity, record numbers attended both nights. As is the custom at Mim we met together, some for the first time, and within the space of a few short days had to meld our voices. With Martin at the helm, it was truly eye-opening and inspirational. According to Peninsula Reviews, at the end of the performance “…the audience leaped as one to their feet giving a long and vociferous applause… Music in May… lived up to its much-deserved reputation as being one of the Santa Cruz musical high points of the year.” The public performances were the exciting culmination of our 8th annual Music in May season; although, the common sentiment expressed by all the musicians was that the highlight of their relatively brief time together was a private performance given earlier in the week.

Thursday May 28th marked a first and one of the most special performances in Mim’s history. All seven featured musicians, including our two pianists, performed for the youth detained in Santa Cruz County Juvenile Hall. With no piano on site prior arrangements were made for Rebecca’s parents, Annette and John Jackson, to transport a giant, 80 lb keyboard to and from the facility.

L to R: John, L.P., Jonah, Katrine, Christine, Rebecca, Jennifer, Martin, Alexandra

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2012 Reflections on the Eve of our 6th Season

May 2012. It was a momentous season. There were many moving parts but it all came together and the celebration at Soif following the Saturday concert was full of joy and a deep sense of achievement. I don’t know where to begin. I think I will start with the moment that personally was the most profound. It happened off stage right after we took our final bows. David Arben had joined all the artists on stage and there were lots of smiles and hugs as we accepted our beautiful yellow bouquets put together by Lilly Kim. Arben made a point to hug and shake hands with each of us who had just premiered the chamber piece “Haim”, written by Polina, inspired by his miraculous life. As we all walked off the stage and gathered together, still relishing in the afterglow, Mr. Arben, began to tear up, telling us he had not been so touched in a very long time. The tears and strong emotions flowed for all of us in this unforgettable backstage moment. Continue reading

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A feast of chamber music

Last month I had the pleasure of playing on two veteran bay area chamber music series, the Gold Coast Chamber Players ( and EOS Ensemble (  I cannot imagine a better way to start off 2012.

GCCP playing for the kids of Stanley Middle School

Pam Freund-Striplen, violist and director of Gold Coast (GCCP), has done an amazing job cultivating a community in support of chamber music.  We performed an all Mozart concert (I performed the Mozart Clarinet Quintet along with Corina Storian, Eric Gaenslen, & Tony Striplen).  My only experience with the work was reading through it for fun with David Kaun (Mim co-founder, donor, friend, clarinetist) and friends.  [Side note: Chamber music “reading parties” are one of the greatest rewards of being a musician.  Musicians gather at a home with instruments and a stack of music; in between food, drink and chatter, we play through several chamber works.]  Continue reading

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Adventures in the Dominican Republic

Seeing Camille after 12 years!

After 5 days in Haiti, my sister Elizabeth and I traveled by bus to explore the Dominican Republic.  When Elizabeth had the idea to extend our trip to explore this neighboring country, it took me more than a second to realize a very dear friend, Camille Berroa, was there.  In 1997, when I was 16, I met Camille at the two month music camp, Meadowmount.  In addition to the required 5 hour individual practice sessions, we had coachings, lessons, and recitals.

Camille with her students

It was during this intense summer that we became very close.  We met for more music-making on the island of Puerto Rico (Festival de la Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil de las Americas), which coincidentally is also the place where I first met David Arben!  He coached the violin sections.  Continue reading

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