3,000 area students will attend the first live symphony Link Up concert in three years

Children from 30 schools in six area counties will play recorders along with West Michigan Symphony

MUSKEGON, MI, April 26, 2022—Few things in life are more impressive than getting to play along with a 60-piece live orchestra, no matter what your age. For a fourth-grader, it’s life-changing.

For the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic descended in 2020, children from 30 area schools will have this experience once again—as West Michigan Symphony (WMS) presents its Link Up beginner music concerts live at the Frauenthal Center. The performances are scheduled for 10 and 11:30 am on Tuesday, May 3. For many of these youngsters, this will be a first live concert experience—but they are not just passive recipients. Link Up is a classroom-to-concert program, and the students will be applying musical concepts they have been studying all winter. The concert even includes segments where they play the recorder along with the orchestra from their seats.

Through a hands-on curriculum, Link Up pairs orchestras with students to explore symphonic repertoire and fundamental musical skills, including creative work and composition. Link Up effectively provides a free yearlong curriculum that even schools lacking a music specialist can utilize. It includes professional development and support and comes with classroom materials, online video, and audio resources.

WMS is an 18-year participant in the acclaimed program, developed by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. Since its inception, more than 60,000 West Michigan students have participated. Last year a live concert was impossible, so WMS offered an online version, “WMS Moves,” its own unique adaptation that utilized many of the Link Up features and techniques. This virtual option is still available to schools not yet able to return to the live concert.

WMS is a professional orchestra with an annual core series of eight subscription concerts held in Muskegon’s historic Frauenthal Center. Music Director Scott Speck specializes in an informal, welcoming environment at concerts, often talking from the podium and providing interesting insights into the music.

WMS also operates The Block, a downtown music listening room presenting 15 annual performances of classical crossover, jazz, and indy-folk.

In addition to Link Up, WMS’ education programs include Click Clack Moosicfor children ages 3-7 and their families; West Michigan Children’s Choir for ages 8 – 13; Debut Strings for beginning to intermediate string students; and Premier Strings for intermediate to advanced students. In the fall of 2022, WMS launches Tune Up, a free after-school orchestra program for underserved youth in partnership with Muskegon Public Schools.

Michigan Arts & Culture Council
National Endowment for the Arts