Jill Baldauf, Blue Ribbon President, with school children outside the Music Center | All photos by Susie Goodman

Over three days in February, nearly 18,000 fifth grade classes from 234 participating schools in LA county were bussed to the Music Center for the 48th annual Blue Ribbon Children’s Festival. 

School buses arrive at the Music Center

The kids got to watch and participate in a performance by Che Malambo, an Argentinian dance group of gauchos who combine drumming with precise footwork, rhythmic stomping, and whirling boleadoras (lassos with stones on the end). Before their trip to the Music Center, the kids prepared by listening to recordings and practicing dance moves. To remember the day, they were given a book about the Music Center and live performances.

The Blue Ribbon Festival began in 1970 and has served more than 850,000 children, making it California’s longest continuing free arts and education initiative.

Fifth graders fill the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

Blue Ribbon President Jill Baldauf told KUSC, “we think it’s very, very important that children be exposed to the arts and understand that this is their Music Center and there are many arts activities that they can participate in downtown. They can bring their families back after visiting here today.”

Mrs. Chirichigno of Rockdale Visual and Performing Arts Magnet in Eagle Rock with students

The festival brings together children from a wide range of local schools. Says Baldauf, “we have private schools and public schools, charter schools, parochial schools – it’s first come first served, so we invite every school in Los Angeles and then it’s just a matter of them being able to respond quickly, because we sell out every year.”

Baldauf describes The Blue Ribbon as a multi-generational group of women committed to the performing arts and to the Music Center (over the 50 years of the organization’s existence, they’ve given more than 75 million dollars to the Music Center).

So what did the local students think about their day at the Music Center? Ten year old Noah King said he loved the percussive sounds of Che Malambo: “I liked how it sounded like horses galloping. To me it just sounded really amazing.”

Fifth grader Noah liked the percussive performance

Delilah (in pink) says she loved watching Che Malambo

Learn more about the Music Center’s Blue Ribbon Children’s Festival here.

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