West Michigan Symphony Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Link Up School Partnership with Concert on May 7

Muskegon, Michigan, May 2, 2014 – The West Michigan Symphony will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Link Up program during a special concert on Wednesday, May 7.

The concert will showcase and demonstrate the new musical abilities of students who have spent a year studying music through Link Up, a free program brought to the public schools through the educational outreach efforts of the West Michigan Symphony.

More than 4,000 third-fifth graders from 53 elementary schools across West Michigan will be both audience and performers in three concerts at the Frauenthal Center in downtown Muskegon. Through the one-year Link Up curriculum, the students have studied the orchestra and its instruments, as well as how to read and play music on the recorder.

Back-to-back concert performances will take place at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. utilizing Link Up’s “The Orchestra Sings!” curriculum for the second time. The symphony will perform eight classical and pops pieces, inviting its student audience to join in by playing their recorders, singing or moving. They will be joined by the West Michigan Symphony Children’s Choir under the direction of Beth Slimko and local actor and teacher, Chad Martin, who will host the concert.

“This concert gives students the opportunity to showcase the musical skills they’ve learned through Link Up,” said Karen Vander Zanden, WMS director of education and community engagement programs. “The students have spent the last year learning the recorder, singing, composing, meeting musicians and now will have the opportunity to perform together for an audience.”

WMS is one of more than 50 orchestras around the world affiliated with the Link Up program of Carnegie’s Weill Music Institute. The WMS Link Up partnership includes professional development in the fall for teachers, classroom visits from WMS professional musicians, curriculum materials, assistance with transportation and a highly interactive Link Up concert.

The Symphony has raised more than $60,000 to support the 2013-14 program. For the fourth year, the Symphony will host three performances to accommodate increased demand from area elementary students.

Vander Zanden and WMS Music Director Scott Speck spend months enhancing the script provided by Carnegie. The interactive performance, which is free to teachers and schools, allows the students to see and understand how the orchestra moves together. General tickets for the public, which is welcome on a first-come, first-served basis, are $10, which is used to defray the costs of the program.

“The Link Up program gives us an opportunity to get kids exposed to music at a young age, allowing them to develop a much deeper understanding and appreciation for it,” Speck said. “The children not only learn how to identify and create different types of music and sounds, we give them an opportunity to enjoy the music think about how the music makes them feel.”

Students have spent the year in classrooms from Muskegon to Hudsonville to Sparta learning to play their recorders. They receive instructional visits during the year from WMS musicians who have adopted schools through the program.

In addition, as part of the Link Up program, the Weill Music Institute provides participating schools with:
• Curriculum guide and CD for teachers featuring lessons on singing, playing the soprano recorder or violin, reading and notating music, and composing and improvising music
• Workbook for each student
• Professional development for teachers and orchestra administrators
• Complete concert script, repertoire list and accompanying visuals
• Access to Carnegie Hall’s Online Resource Center with educational materials, including the Link Up Beginnings skills-focused curriculum and audio for teachers and students
• Ongoing support and consultation in the areas of professional development, program implementation and media/publicity planning

Parents and those interested in attending should call the WMS ticket office at 213.726.3231, ext. 223 to reserve a seat since the concert typically fills up.

About West Michigan Symphony
As one of the few professional regional orchestras in Michigan, West Michigan Symphony has played a leading role in the region’s cultural community for nearly 75 years. Founded as the West Shore Symphony Orchestra, WMS now serves a regional audience with eight pairs of concerts annually, along with dozens of educational and outreach activities for children and adults. For more information, visit www.westmichigansymphony.org.

Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall
The Weill Music Institute creates broad-reaching music education and community programs that play a central role in Carnegie Hall’s commitment to making great music accessible to as wide an audience as possible. Woven into the fabric of the Carnegie Hall concert season, these programs occur at Carnegie Hall as well as in schools and throughout neighborhoods, providing musical opportunities for everyone, from preschoolers to adults, new listeners to emerging professionals. For more information, visit carnegiehall.org/weillmusicinstitute.

Michigan Arts & Culture Council
National Endowment for the Arts