Oakland students rent, borrow instruments for concert after thieves steal $25K worth of equipment

ByAnser Hassan KGO logo
Friday, February 17, 2023
Oakland students' concert goes on after $25K worth of equipment stolen
Oakland School for the Arts students rented and borrowed instruments for their concert after thieves stole $25,000 worth of their equipment.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- There is the old adage, "The show must go on." That was especially true for Oakland School for the Arts senior Roselind Harris at Thursday night's concert, as her cello was stolen by thieves who broke into the school.

"I went to go look for my cello (on Monday), and it wasn't where I normally keep it. And I went to the (classroom, and asked), 'Does anyone know where my cello is?' And they were like, 'There was break in this morning,'" says Harris, after learning that her cello was stolen. "And my heart sank! I was like 'No!' I've had my cello since I was 12!"

That meant Harris played the final concert of her high school career with a rented cello.

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"I think any musician knows that it's not just an instrument to us. So, just being able to pick up a different one, it's like every single instrument has a different sound," explains Harris.

She wasn't the only one. Many of the students used rented or borrowed instruments for the concert following Monday's break-in.

Surveillance video shows thieves breaking into the school and stealing instruments.

VIDEO: Thieves steal instruments from Oakland school for 2nd time

Thieves broke into the Oakland School for the Arts for the second time in recent weeks, stealing a several instruments and it was all caught on video.

"I would guess somewhere around $20,000 to $30,000 worth of instruments," says Emily Tian, chair on the Instrumental Music Department at the school.

Tian says it's a huge loss for this public school that is already struggling with school funding. And, it's the second break-in in two weeks.

"We scrambled for sure. I was running around, trying to get instruments. Borrow instruments. It has been tough, the past two weeks," she says.

James Kirksey is the orchestra conductor and director of Classical Music Study at the school. He says they held a meeting with the students, who decided they still wanted to perform.

"Especially, they are young musicians training to be in this for the long haul professionally. So, this is one of those things, we came together and we said, 'The show must go on!'"

MORE: Thieves steal 60 computers during Oakland school break-in

Harris says it's been tough, but she's looking at the bigger picture.

"I just feel like we're showing who we are in this performance. And I am really happy that this is my last orchestra performance, (ending) in such a good way," says Harris.

Despite the loss for the students and the school, there's good news - financial help could be on the way. The Bill Graham Memorial Foundation is pledging $10,000 as long as the school can find a match.

As for the burglaries, no arrests have been made.

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