2011-03-04 / Schools
Santa Su senior turns passion for music to community service
Teen planning concert to aid Valley Vet Clinic
Music for Life, a benefit concert set for 6:30 p.m. March 10 at 118 West Studios in Simi Valley, is the culmination of Sill’s senior project, which examines how music can be a powerful tool in moving people to action.
In this case, the 18-year-old guitarist is hoping to raise awareness about the overpopulation and high kill rate at animal shelters across the state.
“ A few months ago I had a few ideas floating around in my head about what I wanted to do for my senior project, and I knew it would involve music,” said Sill, who’s played guitar since he was 12. “I thought it would be important to be involved from a social aspect as well so it wasn’t just me writing music, because I do that all the time.”
Inspiration struck when he spoke to his aunt, Kim Sill, an animal activist who’s worked with several rescue groups, including the Bark Avenue Foundation, and with “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan.
“We came up with the idea that I would write music that she would use in her awareness videos,” Sill said.
Taking that idea a step further, Sill decided to host a benefit concert, with the funds to be used locally. All the proceeds will go to Valley Veterinary Clinic, a nonprofit spay and neuter clinic at 1659 E. Los Angeles Ave.
The clinic’s mission is to significantly reduce the overpopulation problems and high euthanasia rates of cats and dogs by providing low-cost spaying and neutering programs.
Valley Vet also helps injured homeless animals and works to educate the public on the importance of controlling the overpopulation of animals.
Although his family has two rescue dogs— Maltese mixes Louis and Gaucho—Sill said he didn’t really understand how big the problem of overpopulation is until speaking with his aunt and seeing it firsthand during a visit to the San Bernardino Animal Shelter, which has a very high kill rate.
“For me, it’s too big for my mind to comprehend how many animals are killed. The conditions at that shelter in particular were pretty squalid,” he said. “ You just walk down these aisles and aisles and aisles of dogs, and they are probably going to be killed in a matter of days, if not that day.
“It’s hard for me to grasp, but it’s really sad.”
Footage from that trip will be shown at the concert. The video will be set to music—an instrumental piece written and performed by Sill for the project.
“I didn’t know how serious an issue it was, how many animals were dying each year in California,” Sill said. “I just saw writing music as a nice medium to tell people what’s going on at the shelters in California.”
Lonnie Sill, who’s been in the music producing and publishing business for 30 years, said he’s proud of his son.
“It’s amazing. He’s driven by his music, and part of his senior project was the power of music . . . and being able to use that in an impactful way that drives people, motivates them—kind of a call to action, that’s what Alex is calling it,” said his father, director of the film and TV division for FirstCom Music.
The concert will include six songs in total, both original and cover tunes, including “Free” by Marcus Miller and “I Wish” by Stevie Wonder. Alex Sill’s band, The Way Up, will perform, and three jazz choir members from Santa Su will join the band to sing the final song, an arrangement of “The Way Up” by Pat Metheny.
The original music from the concert will soon be available online, Sill said, and those proceeds will go toward various animal rescue organizations.
Sill said he hopes concertgoers will walk away with a new sense of how harsh the conditions are for animals in shelters and the importance of spaying and neutering pets.
But he also hopes the music will stir in listeners a personal desire to get involved and make a difference.
“Music is one of the best mediums you can use to get a point across to people. It can change people’s lives in a lot of ways,” Sill said. “Just hearing facts, it’s not going to do much . . . but with music it can inspire people to do things.”
To buy tickets, visit http:// musicforlife.vbotickets.com/event/ music_ for_ life/588. General admission tickets are $10; third-row premium seating is $18.
Tickets can also be purchased the night of the event.
Some tickets are available at no cost for middle-schoolers and those with financial burdens. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
For those who cannot attend the concert but would like to help the cause, donations can be made to Valley Vet on its website, www.valleyvetnonprofit.com.
What: Music For Life benefit
When: 6:30 p.m. Thurs., March
Where: 118 West Studios, 2251
Ward Ave., Simi Valley
Why: The culmination of Santa
Susana High School student
Alex Sill’s senior project, the
benefit concert will raise funds
for Valley Veterinary Clinic, a
nonprofit that offers low-cost
spay and neuter programs.
Find out more at