A Magical Visit from Esperanza Spalding

In the seven years that I have been a part of the Conservatory Lab community, I’ve experienced countless moments and days of joy alongside my students. This past Tuesday will stand the test of time. On February 26th, Grammy award-winning musician, artist, creator, and composer, Esperanza Spalding came to visit students at the Lower School.

Conservatory Lab board member, Lisa Wong, connected me with Esperanza through her channels at Harvard, where Esperanza has joined the music faculty as a Professor of Practice. When I was corresponding with Esperanza about coming to visit Conservatory Lab, I could have never imagined the person who was about to grace us with her energy, wisdom, kindness, and spirit.

From the moment Esperanza walked through our doors, I was taken away by her authenticity and how genuinely moved she was to learn that we had named our second-grade orchestra in her honor. Esperanza spent time with the Esperanza Spalding Orchestra, listening to them rehearse and teaching them to sing one of her original songs, Black Gold. In my students’ eyes, I saw joy and pride that the woman for whom their orchestra was named was listening to and admiring them.

After the second grade rehearsal, sixth-grade students who had traveled from the Upper School workshopped pieces of music composed by two sixth grade bass players.  Esperanza listened to performances of these compositions in awe. The discussions she and our students had after each piece were honest and profound. Esperanza asked our musicians thought-provoking questions, and in return, was met with the insightful and complex questions they had prepared for her.

At the end of her visit, Esperanza played bass and sang a breathtakingly beautiful arrangement of Throw it Away by Abbey Lincoln. She didn’t have her own bass with her, but she was happy to borrow one of our student’s. “You can never lose a thing, if it belongs to you” are lyrics from the song. Esperanza shared several times how moved she was by the power of Conservatory Lab, and I have to imagine she chose to sing that song for a reason. The lyrics remind me of the way I think about music. At Conservatory Lab, music belongs to all of us, and if you love music, it’s something you can never lose.

Esperanza Spalding Singing

Esperanza shared her love for music with our community in such a special way, and I truly believe the experience will stay with all of us forever. I am so grateful for the time she spent with our students, the words, wisdom, and music she shared, and the inspiration she brought to us all.