At South Union Community Development Corporation, we are committed to inspiring leadership, creativity and innovation in the city we call home. From time to time, opportunities arise to create something new and exceptional where nothing existed before. A new collaboration with Performance English and the Houston Arts Alliance certainly fits that description: the “Bach 2 Soul” Program.

The program is the brainchild of Mariam Haddad, CEO of Performance English and a group of talented creative change-makers, including Efrem B. Jernigan, Vel Lewis, Francesco Attesti, and Matteo Galli.

Efrem Jernigan is the president of South Union Development Corporation, where he makes it his mission to “sow seeds of success” in youth through exposure to science, technology, engineering and math careers, and in seniors, through fellowship, food, fun and fitness.

Grammy-nominated artist Vel Lewis is a Hammond organist, consultant and the founder of ColorSound, a company that focuses on music composition, publishing, recording, editing, production and artist development. Lewis is currently an artist-in-residence in Houston, on the auspices of the South Union Development Corporation.

Francesco Attesti is an Italian classical concert pianist of international acclaim who is considered a refined and skilled performer of the 19th and 20th Century repertoire. Attesti has performed over 500 concerts in Europe, North and South America and is also an artist-in-residence in Houston, on the auspices of the South Union Development Corporation.

Matteo Galli is an Italian chief organist and artistic supervisor at the St. Maria Presso St. Satiro Basilica in Milan.

Mariam Haddad, CEO of Performance English, is a concert pianist, opera singer, and an entrepreneur who uses her creative skills to help people communicate at a higher level through her work with Performance English. With Bach 2 Soul, Mariam’s goal is to create a conversation across communities that supports creativity and innovation in the sciences by incorporating the arts, while helping children find their self-expression.

The idea for the project arose after Mariam and her son, Bryan, attended a local performance by Francesco Attesti and Matteo Galli. During the event, Bryan became fascinated with the trajectory of sound, as it traveled from the pipe organ located in the front of the church, and out the pipes in the rear section of the church. Because Francesco is a friend, they had an opportunity to discuss this after the performance, and that was followed by a discussion about the speed of sound. Mariam quickly realized that the pipe organ provided a physical means to discuss mechanical engineering with kids in a way that was compelling and beautiful. Knowing that Efrem was looking for a way to better integrate the arts into South Union’s STEM program, she mentioned the idea to him, and the rest, as they say, is history. Back 2 Soul received its first funding this year and the first step, bringing this interdisciplinary curriculum to life, has been realized.

The premier event for Bach 2 Soul is scheduled for Saturday, May 6th at the Houston Community College Auditorium and will feature Attesti and Lewis performing the Bach Goldberg variations on classical with a ‘jazzified’ retake. The event will also include a STEAM component to inspire Houston’s youth.