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A short documentary film about how classical chamber music teaches young people to play well with others--in music and in life! Read more

Palo Alto, CA Shorts
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This project was successfully funded on October 21, 2012.

A short documentary film about how classical chamber music teaches young people to play well with others--in music and in life!

Palo Alto, CA Shorts
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About this project


Hooray!  Bravo!  Brava!  Thank you!   We have met our goal of raising $10,000 for PHASE ONE of our documentary film project.  And, that's not the only good news!  There is still time to help us take the mission of the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra (PACO) to an even higher level.  

Every frame of footage we shoot in PHASE ONE is part of a much bigger and ambitious project.  Now that we've raised the funds to roll cameras in Palo Alto for our short film, we can focus on funding PHASE TWO which is a full length documentary film about the history, the musicians, the teachers, the extended family of PACO--the lives it has touched, the way it has positively impacted so many lives and most of all the worthy mission of the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra!

The message of learning to play well with others continues to resonate with the extended family of PACO across decades and continents.  It has inspired backers from across the country and across oceans to support our project.  

So many people "LIKE" our Kickstarter Campaign on FACEBOOK--we need your help to ask your friends, colleagues, contacts and family to do the same. The numbers so far tell an important story. Almost NINE PERCENT of our contributions come via Facebook.  So please help us reinforce our presence on FACEBOOK.  It's working!

We're like The Little Engine That Could!  And, with your vision and support, we can!

In PHASE TWO, cameras roll as the chamber ensemble travels to Italy--which has a centuries-long history and tradition in classical music to explore.  It is a once-in-a-lifetime convergence where bright, young musicians discover so many different eras and so many significant contributions.  For example, the violin family appeared in essentially its modern form in northern Italy.  It is believed that the violin originated from Italy in the early 1500s.  

We trace these historical footsteps as the young musicians of PACO reach hands across an ocean to their musical brothers and sisters performing in some of the most beautiful and significant concert venues in Italy.  We'll take you there as cameras roll on this amazing journey of discovery and good will.

We really want to make sure this can happen.  We've come so far and we can't stop now.  So, now more than ever is the time to spread the word and tell your friends, colleagues, family and fellow musicians about our Kickstarter page.

Let's finish with a flourish!  You got us this far, now let's hear your cadenza.  

You're amazing!  


So, please help use get cameras rolling for PHASE TWO and remind everyone why this is...


Founded in 1966, the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra (PACO) brings together talented young musicians of high school age and younger.  

The Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra
The Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra

Members often spend 5-10 years working closely and by joining this extended musical family, they learn to play well with others not only as fellow musicians, but as people from diverse cultural backgrounds who form lifetime friendships and learn the skill of working well in teams--something these young people can take away with them for life.  In a world that emphasizes individual achievement, PACO manages to instill a value of serving the group, not individual glory--all through the unique art form of chamber music.  

The results have been remarkable.

As filmmakers, we feel passionate about bringing this refreshing, inspiring and original story to a wider audience because we think it will motivate others and remind them about the power of the human spirit.  But, this is not just about classical music and the arts.  It's about reaching inside someone on a deeply personal level and connecting with a stranger to help someone achieve a greater goal by selflessly giving your time, energy and life force.  And realizing that if you do that in music, you can do that in life.

Every student who enters the organizations goes through a rigorous audition process.  At PACO, it's not just about how well a student can hit the right notes. The soul of the organization is its young people who understand gratitude, humility and valuing everyone's accomplishments.  There are no showcased or principal players.  Every student is regarded with the same level of importance.  Players rotate chairs so everyone has a chance to work under the baton of music director Benjamin Simon.

Music Director and Conductor Ben Simon
Music Director and Conductor Ben Simon

Mr. Simon possesses the rare gift of being able to explain what the music means to people from all walks of life including those in the audience who may have no knowledge of classical music.  He made the successful transition to conductor following twenty-five years as a violist performing with some of the great orchestras of the world including the New York Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  Today, he serves as Music Director and Conductor of PACO as well as the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra which he transformed into one of the premiere professional ensembles in California.

To the filmmakers, Benjamin Simon is reminiscent of the legendary Leonard Bernstein who a generation ago, reached an international audience in his nationally televised "Young People's Concerts" which showed why children and parents should care deeply about classical music.  

The legendary Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concerts
The legendary Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concerts

It's been a long time since we've seen someone willing to share that message with the public.  Through humor, wit and a razor-sharp intellect, Mr. Simon draws you into the world of chamber music and we promise you will be glad you went along for the ride.

Since we've gone "live" on Kickstarter, we've heard from not only current and recent students, but also students who played and cherished their time with the organization's original founder and conductor, William Whitson.

Maestro William Whitson founded PACO in 1966.
Maestro William Whitson founded PACO in 1966.

Mr. Whitson, a respected violinist and teacher, led the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra for its first thirty-seven years. We're hoping to reconnect with some of those students to hear about the lasting impact this experience has made on their lives.


There are TWO PHASES to bring this story to a wider audience.  Currently, we are seeking donations for PHASE ONE, but will start another page to later fund PHASE TWO.

PHASE ONE - A short documentary film of 5-10 minutes in length.

We hope to roll cameras in October 2012.  To do so, we need seed funding to pay for camera and equipment rentals, crew and expenses.  The film director has drawn some of the very best working professionals in the industry to lend their time and talent to this project.  Many of the production team have earned over 100 show credits on network, major cable and film projects.  It is our hope that the film will be shot with Epic Red System cameras and edited on Final Cut Pro on the Apple iMac.

Portions of the film will be used to help further brand PACO's existing website which has been built entirely by volunteers.  This is the first major effort by an outside party to bring the story of PACO to a national audience.  Based on the film director's experience in network news and in particular, 60 Minutes, this uplifting message would make a memorable long-form piece.

PHASE TWO - A full-length feature documentary of approximately 90 minutes in length.

The feature will expand on the story of PACO as it travels to Italy to share its message and music with an international audience.  The feature will be hypnotic, modern, visually and aurally compelling presentation that conveys emotion, the power of classical music, the unique message of PACO, set against the cultural backdrop of Italy in all its grand splendor.  We want the audience to feel the joy and struggle of young musicians as they feel what it is like to reach for a higher bar while traveling to the birth-place of modern instrument making in Cremona, Italy, and play well with other young musicians half a world away. 

If you are interested in donating a larger amount that would go towards the feature please contact us through this site.


We're a dedicated group of industry professionals many of whom have earned over 100 show credits working on highly visible films and shows for television networks and major cable networks.  

Director Ty Kim and his childhood idol Muhammad Ali on set
Director Ty Kim and his childhood idol Muhammad Ali on set

Our director is an award-winning storyteller who recruited an experienced production team committed to backing projects that would allow them to use their talents to give back to the community.  This storyteller recently directed a half hour documentary about Native American culture and art hosted by former US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor with a rare appearance by Muhammad Ali who supports the message of peace and social justice.  It's important to take time away from mainstream Hollywood and reconnect with projects that are based on the merit of the story, not the bottom line.


Kickstarter is a crowd-source funding platform that allows people just like you to make donations towards ideas like our film and help turn them into reality.  You can donate any amount you wish to.  We understand the value of a single dollar and what it means to working class families.  In exchange, you can know by doing your part to help "kickstart" this film, you'll receive some cool gifts and a whole lot of gratitude.  Please remember that Kickstarter is an "all or nothing" deal which means that we can only be funded if we reach our total goal of $10,000.  So, please accept our thanks in advance for being generous.  To donate, you can click on the "Back This Project" button on the top right of this page.

Thank you for watching!

Risks and challenges

Risks - This worthy non-profit has been powered by volunteers and generous donors over the years. From a financial standpoint, the organization's health has been sustained by the care of its board and officers. This project represents a new chapter in the organization's timeline and requires a tremendous amount of constant care to help "uplift" the message to a broader audience. It will require patience, time and continued manpower.

Challenges - There really is never enough time or resources. In order to meet deadlines, we must move quickly to complete Phase One. This, in turn, will help us bring the project to try to fund and complete Phase Two.

The ample experience and commitment of the extended family of PACO will ensure that this message sees the light of day. Many of these individuals, both parents, children and educators are highly accomplished individuals who are committed to the organization and its mission.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter


  • The good news: donations made to our project are tax-deductible! However, not through this Kickstarter campaign, but through our fiscal sponsor. The Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts service organization; all donations are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

    The Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra Documentary Film Project is a sponsored project of The Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra (PACO). If you're a US-tax payer and are in interested in making a tax-deductible donation for the purposes of this Kickstarter Campaign, please contact PACO through our website and you will be provided with a tax receipt by PACO.

    We know how hard you work to earn every dollar to pay rent, buy groceries and hopefully put something away for your retirement or your children's college education. From speaking to many donors, family foundations and patrons of the arts, the biggest challenge, however, is finding a worthy organization to give a donation.

    The Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra is one of those special organizations. From a fiscal perspective, it is a healthy organization that has been run by volunteers since 1966. It watches the bottom line and provides value to so many young musicians and audiences.

    Please Google us and visit our website to learn more about PACO. Your donation for this project will be earmarked for the short documentary film and full length documentary film projects.

    In many cases, from a tax perspective many organizations such as foundations must donate a certain amount every year to charitable causes. Even in the case of individuals, a tax deductible donation is a strategic move. So, we appreciate anything that you can give and know that even a dollar will help this worthy cause.

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  • Classical music is as unique an American art form as rock and roll, jazz and swing/big band. The reality is that it is suffering a downturn because a generation or two of kids have not been exposed to classical music. Concert attendance is down, arts funding has been radically cut, major orchestras are declaring bankruptcy, digital music platforms have nearly eliminated record stores and school cutbacks have trimmed music education. Now, the good news... Despite all these external factors, The Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra has somehow managed to raise the bar in terms of music education, quality of performance and donor support. In the words of the legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman, "This amazing group of musicians is one of the finest and most talented I have heard." It wasn't too long ago that classical music programs were seen on television, heard on radio stations across the country, played on records, and its stars were as popular as the biggest athletes, movie stars and world leaders. You can help keep this art form alive by supporting sterling examples of this genre like PACO. If you have a son or daughter or know a young child, then you know the impact that music can have on their lives. It improves their academics. It helps them broaden their minds and make new friends. Music truly is the universal language.

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  • We are only getting started! This kickstarter page began as PHASE ONE to roll cameras for a short documentary about PACO we're filming in Palo Alto. By raising the seed funding for our Kickstarter campaign, you are helping us raise the bar and go for PHASE TWO! A much bigger vision awaits... We are now raising funds for a FULL LENGTH DOCUMENTARY FILM about the history and amazing people who we call the extended family of PACO. This is a worthy and expensive proposition. But, we have come so far and we really want to make it happen. So, if you're reading this far, then you must have it in your heart and mind to help us make this next step a reality. Reach out. We would love your help. Thank you.

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    Thank you note from the Director and a hi-res download of the short film once it is completed.

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    Thank you note from the Director and a postcard-size printed promotional still of original artwork created for the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra. And a hi-res download of the short film once it is completed.

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Funding period

- (30 days)