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Plácido Domingo Performs With Esperanza Azteca Youth Orchestra

More than 850 guests attended the inaugural Esperanza Azteca Los Angeles Youth Orchestra Concert and Tribute Gala Friday evening at the historic Ricardo Montalbán Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles. The gala, presented by Grupo Salinas, Azteca America and the Andrew Nikou Foundation, honored the legendary Spanish tenor, conductor and arts administrator, Plácido Domingo.

The first ever concert and gala event raised vital funds to support the Esperanza Azteca Los Angeles Youth Orchestra, the first U.S.-based chapter of the Esperanza Azteca youth orchestra program, and its 198 young musicians from the Los Angeles area.

Executive Director of Esperanza Azteca Gilbert Lopez kicked off the evening introducing the Esperanza Azteca Los Angeles Youth Orchestra, which then played a selection of seven songs for a thrilled audience of Los Angeles luminaries and tastemakers.

"This is a good investment because these young men and women will become much better citizens. This is what we need, not only in America, but in the whole world. What we need are citizens that know how to work together. They're not thinking about divisions, they're thinking about coming together," said Ricardo Salinas, founder, Grupo Salinas.

"And you can see the diversity here. Diversity not only in terms of instruments, we have all different kinds of instruments and different sounds, but we also see all kinds of different faces, and colors, and origins. And this is what a better world is going to be like when we learn to work together to create something that's worthwhile," Salinas added, who recognized Plácido Domingo.

"To make music is a privilege, because to make music it gives us the possibility to make everybody happy," said Domingo. "Esperanza Azteca does amazing, amazing makes people better, music makes people happier, and more than anything, music unites people and really they become friends for life just for the music."

Domingo led the Esperanza Azteca Los Angeles Youth Orchestra at the conductor's podium in an uplifting performance of "Hallelujah," and then closed the show singing "Solamente una Vez," which received accolades and encores from the audience.

"When you perform music, you learn timeless lessons about striving for excellence and enjoying the journey to your highest potential. That's what Esperanza Azteca does for our children and that's why, when Fundación Azteca asked me to help make L.A. the home of its first U.S. pilot orchestra, I didn't hesitate to say yes," said Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles. "As mayor and as a musician, I am grateful that public-private partnerships like this are ones that are making sure that the arts have a vibrant and enduring presence in our schools."

Esperanza Azteca helps bridge the gaps budget cuts have left in public school arts education, offering a high-caliber music program to kids who otherwise might never have access to it. The free, conservatory-style program teaches students between the ages of 6 and 17 the fundamentals of music and offers group and private vocal or instrument lessons, as well as full orchestra rehearsals. Over 70% of participants have no previous musical experience and most are unable to afford instruments - teachers, lessons and instruments are provided free of cost. Along the way, these young people learn about teamwork, discipline, loyalty, honesty, excellence and respect - Esperanza Azteca's core values.

Founded in Mexico in 2009 by Ricardo Salinas, chairman of Grupo Salinas and its Fundación Azteca, the Esperanza Azteca program has grown to include 87 orchestras and choirs throughout Mexico, El Salvador and - most recently - the United States. Through afterschool programming, Esperanza Azteca provides more than 17,000 school children ages 5 to 18 the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument in a positive environment where they develop creative skills, resiliency, strong work ethic and determination. The Los Angeles Esperanza Azteca orchestra was launched in October 2014 as a public-private partnership between Grupo Salinas, the City of Los Angeles and other community partners. The program plans to expand to New York City and other U.S. cities.

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