Two Washougal High School seniors had the opportunity to perform with professional musicians in a benefit show for children recently.
T. Walker Anderson and Mikayla Harris participated in the Ten Grands for Kids event at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland on Friday, April 18.
It is a free, 75 minute matinee created by Michael Allen Harrison, a well-known professional pianist who lives in Portland. The goal of the event is to have a show that inspires students to follow their dreams and exposes them to music “at a very high level of proficiency.”
The show is organized through Harrison’s Snowman Foundation, which provides the opportunity for youth to participate in music education, regardless of socioeconomic status.
Anderson has been taking piano lessons from Harrison for the past three years and has been on scholarship through the Snowman Foundation for the past two. In addition, he received a baby grand piano through the foundation’s Pay It Forward program, where community donors give instruments that are no longer being used and the foundation places them with a young student who is passionate about music.
“I am a beneficiary of this program and without it, I couldn’t continue to have the lessons,” Anderson said.
So, when Harrison asked him to perform at the Ten Grands event, it seemed like a good opportunity to give back. But instead of playing a solo, Anderson invited Harris, a talented singer, to perform a duet with him while he played the guitar.
“We performed “Billie Jean,” by Michael Jackson, but I turned it more into an acoustic, folksy, bluegrass style,” he said.
The event was the second largest venue the aspiring musician has performed in so far. In seventh-grade, he formed at what was then known as the Rose Garden Arena, singing the national anthem before a Portland Lumberjacks game.
“This was definitely the most prestigious venue I have been at,” Anderson said. “I got really nervous right before the show began, but then began to get comfortable and really enjoyed the experience. I really liked sharing with the audience what I have been working on.”
In addition to playing piano and guitar, Anderson also plays the clarinet. At the 2014 Clark College Jazz Festival, he was recognized as “Outstanding Jazz Musician.” At WHS, he participates in chamber choir, jazz band and wind ensemble.
Harris has been singing since she was a toddler and participates in chamber choir and X-Tet at WHS. She has been named as a semi-finalist in Portland Teen Idol twice.