Every year, the North Carolina Symphony and its small ensembles present over 45 free education performances to elementary and middle school-age students across North Carolina. The series forms the core of the most extensive education program of any U.S. orchestra.
Twice during this week’s Western Tour, which includes four public North Carolina Symphony performances in the Western part of the state, the orchestra stops to provide free entertainment for the area’s young people.
Music Director Grant Llewellyn leads the Symphony in the engaging education concert program at Mars Hill College’s Moore Auditorium on Thursday, April 26 at 10:00 a.m. An education performance will also be held at Charles Beall Auditorium at Haywood Community College in Clyde, N.C., on Friday, April 27 at 10:45 a.m.
The concerts feature special demonstrations by the Symphony’s renowned staff of conductors and world-class musicians. Along the way, students and teachers are asked “What Makes Music Music?” with a rich and engaging musical lineup that highlights the building blocks of the art form: rhythm, dynamics, texture, tempo, form and melody.
“We break down music to its fundamentals to provide students with the essential tools for understanding the total influence of orchestral music in their lives,” says North Carolina Symphony Director of Education Jessica Nalbone.
This year’s lineup includes powerhouse selections by Mozart, Haydn and Strauss. Students will recognize one of music’s most famous melodies in Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” and get a little American flavor in Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer,” well-known as the theme to the Paul Newman and Robert Redford film The Sting.
The cinematic thrills do not end there. All of the day’s lessons are brought together in the concert’s stirring finale, Reinhold Glière most famous work—one of classical music’s most frequently quoted scores and one featured in movies from The Right Stuff to The Hunt for Red October—the Russian Sailors’ Dance from The Red Poppy ballet.
“It’s so exciting to see students’ faces light up when they realize how these individual pieces relate to them,” says Nalbone. “These concerts are an enriching educational moment that will remain them for the rest of their lives.”
Glenwood Elementary music educator Carole Dolber attends the North Carolina Symphony Workshop for teachers annually and incorporates North Carolina Symphony lesson plans in her class.
“For some this is the only time they will see and hear a symphony orchestra live,” she says, “for others it sparks their interest to learning how to play an instrument…[Students] love to talk about everything after the concert: Meymandi Hall, the musicians, the instruments, the conductor and the music they have just heard.”
Symphony Resident Conductor William Henry Curry puts it even more succinctly. “Classical music is just as entertaining as any other kind of music,” he says. “That, to me, is our number one mission at the concert.”
Education concerts are presented free in schools or concert halls for school groups and are closed to the public. They are generously supported across the state by the North Carolina General Assembly, as well as BB&T, GlaxoSmithKline and Progress Energy.
The Western Tour is made possible with support from The Cannon Foundation.
For complete information on the Symphony’s education programs, including how to attend or schedule an education concert in your area, visit www.ncsymphony.org/educationprograms.