Engaging the Next Generation


Youth Ensembles
On Saturday, March 26, 2022, the West Michigan Symphony Children’s Choir, Debut Strings, and Premier Strings presented their spring concert at the Frauenthal Theater. “We are Music Together” appropriately described the beautiful sounds and melodies these talented young musicians presented.  The evening began with the sweet sound of 25 choristers appropriately singing “How Can I Keep From Singing” with solos from five choir members. An ensemble of Premier Strings accompanied the choir on Aiken Drum, a Scottish folk song, and provided a soothing blend of instruments performing with the voices of the choir.  Five pieces of music in all were presented by the Children’s Choir before Debut Strings took the stage.

Debut Strings, the string ensemble made up of 49 members, filled the Frauenthal Stage performing Everyone’s Guide to the String Orchestra from The Carnival of the Animals, Remember Me from Coco, and Greater Than, a challenging piece that showcased these musicians wonderfully.

The Premier Strings, the advanced string ensemble made up of 19 talented musicians, showcased Naomi Zziwambazza on cello during the performance of Cello Concerto no. 1 in C Major by Franz Joseph Haydn.  Naomi was allowed to showcase her abilities and talent throughout this piece. Prelude in G Minor (Op. 23 no. 5) finished the Premier Strings portion of the show.

The concert concluded with all singers and musicians on stage performing The Gathering Clouds, and Sing Together, with a special string arrangement created by Angela Corbin.  The “We are Music Together” concert, reminded us of the joy, peace, and happiness music can bring, as well as the powerful impact it has on our youth, providing a place for creativity, teamwork, joy, and fun.

Link Up
We are pleased to host, once again, the annual school Link Up concerts in person on May 3, 2022.  The West Michigan Symphony Link Up beginner music program partners area schools with the WMS for a year-long journey of learning to read music, play the recorder, and meet the West Michigan Symphony.

More than 60,000 students from six West Michigan counties have participated in the WMS Link Up program since 2004. Many move on into band, orchestra, or their school choral programs once graduating from Link Up.

We are thankful for the many supporters who have made this program possible and helped the WMS annually partner with over 50 elementary school music programs.  It is a tradition in Muskegon each spring as over 4,000 students take over the Frauenthal Theater to showcase their recorder playing skills in is once in a lifetime experience.  

Tune Up
This fall the West Michigan Symphony will launch a new after-school music program in partnership with Muskegon Public Schools. In collaboration with the 21st CCLC Impact program, Tune Up will provide after-school students with free music instruction, free string instruments, and opportunities to perform. 

A new Teaching Artist position has been created and we are currently looking to fill this before the program launches in September of 2022. The job description can be found online here.

For more information on how you can be a part of these music groups or to support these programs please contact Karen Vander Zanden, Director of Education at kvanderzanden@westmichigansymphony.org

Michigan Arts & Culture Council
National Endowment for the Arts