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Ten Grands event pays it forward

Harrison's annual show raises money for young musicians

'Ten Grands' is celebrating its 10th anniversary, and founder Michael Allen Harrison is proud of the work his Snowman Foundation has done with the fundraising effort to help local music programs.

The composer/pianist Harrison figures the Snowman Foundation has raised about $2.5 million during the past decade for the community and endowments, given away 60 new pianos and another 300 through its donor program. In addition, the group works to fund string and band instruments for various organizations and works with rural programs.

The 10th anniversary will feature six shows at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

Four of the shows are 'Ten Grands for Kids,' an invitation-only event at 9:45 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. Thursday, April 1, and Friday, April 2. The Snowman Foundation will bring in about 11,000 children to the shows.

'We have three professionals playing, and the rest of the pianists are kids,' Harrison says. 'It's a really inspiring show.'

The two big 'Ten Grands' evening shows, fundraisers, are at 7 p.m. Friday, April 2, and Saturday, April 3. Tickets range from $25 to $125 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster outlets.

Friday's show is dedicated to Young Audiences to help boost its music education outreach. Saturday's show is for Metropolitan Youth Symphony, Park Academy, Conestoga Middle School, Multnomah Arts Center Association and One of a Kind Drumline.

Harrison has worked with many kids over the years, including Hailey Rowden of Gresham, 14, a pianist who he funded with a personal scholarship to study with him. She's part of the Salvation Army music program in Gresham. She has reciprocated by teaching 11 other kids for free.

'It's a pay-it-forward story,' Harrison says.

- Jason Vondersmith