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Osmo Vänskä /// Music Director

Minnesota Orchestra Partners With Student Groups Through Arts Access Grant

 Minnesota State Arts Board funding allows Orchestra to develop partnerships with ComMUSICation and MacPhail Center for Music

On May 6, multiple student groups perform at Orchestra Hall to culminate the first year of the Arts Access project


Throughout the 2016-17 season, the Minnesota Orchestra has been building relationships with music students and their families from Minneapolis’ Northside and Saint Paul’s Promise Neighborhood, thanks to a generous grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. The program, called the Arts Access project, is providing the students with opportunities to perform at Orchestra Hall, enjoy Orchestra concerts with their families, and create enriching relationships with musicians from the Minnesota Orchestra. Culminating the first year of the partnership, the student musicians will present a joint performance in Orchestra Hall’s Target Atrium on Saturday, May 6, at 7:00 p.m. The performance, which precedes that evening’s Ellis Hall concert, is free and open to the public.

About Arts Access                 

Orchestra staff and musicians have collaborated over the course of the season with two premier partner organizations, ComMUSICation and the MacPhail Center for Music. ComMUSICation is an afterschool choral youth-development program based in Saint Paul’s Promise Neighborhood, and the MacPhail Center for Music has longstanding string music programs at Ascension School and Harvest Preparatory School, both located in Minneapolis’ Northside.

“Accessibility isn't a one way street,” says Jessica Leibfried, the Orchestra’s Director of Education and Community Engagement. “Thanks to this generous funding, the Orchestra and its musicians are given a great privilege to learn more about these communities, how to serve them better and how the work of our organizations intersect. At the heart of this work is each organization opening its doors to each other, learning from each other and making music together.

The centerpiece of the project is the deepening of connections between student musicians and Minnesota Orchestra players. Minnesota Orchestra musicians are supporting MacPhail’s programs at Ascension School and Harvest Preparatory School by playing alongside students in rehearsals and providing supplemental instruction for small groups and individual students. At ComMUSICation, musicians and students are collaboratively composing arrangements to five folk songs that represent students’ cultural backgrounds—and these songs will be featured in a future ComMUSICation performance at Orchestra Hall.

Sara Zanussi, Founder and Executive Programming Director of ComMUSICation, said "this project has allowed our young musicians to reflect on their own cultural backgrounds by exploring musical concepts in new ways with professional musicians." She also added that "during a community mapping activity where youth had to draw a map of their neighborhood, they insisted on putting Orchestra Hall on the map, because, they said, ‘we’re there all the time!’”

Each site has a cohort of two musicians visiting students monthly over the course of the winter and spring, plus occasional special visits from small ensembles of Orchestra musicians. Orchestra members involved this year have included violist Kenneth Freed and bassist David Williamson at ComMUSICation; violinist Pamela Arnstein and cellist Pitnarry Shin at Ascension School; and violinists Catherine Schubilske and Deborah Serafini at Harvest Preparatory School.

Additionally, throughout the year, students from these organizations have performed in the lobby and Target Atrium at Orchestra Hall; received free tickets and bussing to attend Minnesota Orchestra concerts; and were provided with free tickets for their friends and neighbors to attend Orchestra concerts following their performances.

“Our young musicians feel welcome in Orchestra Hall because, through this program, people who make music at the Hall also come to see them where they make music,” said Katie Condon, director of School Partnerships at MacPhail. “After our students performed at Orchestra Hall, our ensemble conductor said, ‘I’ve never seen an experience have such a dramatic impact on student musicians.’ They were full of questions, excitement and enthusiasm, and are more motivated than ever to practice and continue performing.” 

A second year of collaboration with the same school partners is now being planned for the 2017-18 season.

About the Final Concert, May 6
On Saturday, May 6 from 7:00 to 7:40 p.m., the ComMUSICation Choir and the MacPhail Northside Youth Orchestra, which includes many students from both Ascension School and Harvest Preparatory School, will present a joint performance in the Target Atrium at Orchestra Hall, preceding the Minnesota Orchestra concert that evening with Ellis Hall. The performance will serve as a celebration of the first year of this collaboration, and will feature music selections such as Draw the Circle Wide and Simple Gifts. The performance is open to the public; a ticket is not required.

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PRESS CONTACT:

Gwen Pappas, Director of Public Relations 
(612) 371-5628 • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jessica Leibfried, Director of Education and Community Engagement
(612) 371-5650 • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Emma Plehal, Public Relations Writer and Coordinator
(612) 371-5625 • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Gwen Pappas

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Communications Office

Minnesota Orchestra
1111 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55403
Phone: 612.371.5600
Fax: 612.371.7170

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Showcase Concert Magazine, September-October 2017  

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