For his work through Viols in Our Schools, Dr. Phillip Serna received the 2010 Early Music America Outreach Award, which honors ensembles or individual artists for excellence in early music outreach and/or educational projects for children or adults.
Viols in Our Schools is organized by Dr. Phillip W. Serna of the Spirit of Gambo – a Chicago Consort of Viols and New Comma Baroque and is supported by the Viola da Gamba Society Third Coast as well as a pilot program of the Viola da Gamba Society of America. Based in the Chicago area, Dr. Serna works to bring the early western string instrument family known as the viola da gamba into many area schools – demonstrating solo literature from the Renaissance, Baroque and early Classical periods for treble viol, tenor viol, bass viol & violone. Future endeavors include bringing consort music into the classroom performed by the Spirit of Gambo – a Chicago Consort of Viols. Including day-long residencies in schools (focusing on string, music & history departments) as well as possible coaching of early string repertoire performed on modern strings and possible collaborative concerts. Viols in Our Schools seeks to entertain, while educating audiences about the rich literature for this family of bowed string instruments. Viols in Our Schools is an interdisciplinary educational outreach endeavor organized by Dr. Phillip W. Serna, adjunct faculty at Valparaiso University and formerly affiliated with the Music Institute of Chicago’s Early Music Department. In addition to bringing demonstrations of the viola da gamba (or ‘viol’ family) to schools, Dr. Serna’s presentations focus on art, drama, historical and social currents to give context to the composers and music surveyed. Dr. Serna’s enthusiastic and high-speed style is meant to keep young people interested while never talking down to his audiences. Renaissance music for viols, as well as performance of early-western string instruments, is very seldom heard within the school setting, even those schools that offer a music history program. Viols in Our Schools seeks to remedy this by offering performances/ lecture-demonstrations enhancing the music program experience. Additionally, Viols in Our Schools attempts to offer resources to make viols available to students.