Children from 36 schools in six area counties will play recorders along with West Michigan Symphony

MUSKEGON, MI, April 26, 2023—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 more than impressive—it’s life changing.

Couple that with the fact that many of them have never been downtown, let alone seen the inside of the historic Frauenthal Center with a live orchestra onstage. Many will remember this day for a lifetime.

Children from 35 area schools will have this experience on May 9 when West Michigan Symphony (WMS) presents its Link Up beginner music concerts live at the Frauenthal Center. The performances are scheduled for 9:30, 11:00 and 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday the 9th. For many, this will be a first live concert experience—but they will be participants, not 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 for teachers and comes with classroom materials, online video and audio resources.

WMS is an 19-year participant in the acclaimed program, developed by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. Since its inception, more than 65,000 West Michigan students have participated. For those for whom live attendance is impossible, WMS offers an online version, “WMS Moves,” its own unique adaptation that utilizes many of the Link Up features and techniques.

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 Moosic for 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 added Tune Up, a free after-school orchestra program for underserved youth in partnership with Muskegon Public Schools.

Link Up is sponsored by DTE Energy, Fifth Third Bank, Fremont Area Community Foundation, Gerber Foundation, Grand Haven Area Community Foundation, Howmet Aerospace, Mart Dock Corporation, Mike & Kay Olthoff, RENK America, Sparta Community Foundation, Trinity Health, Women’s Division Chamber of Commerce, and by a generous grant from the Michigan Arts & Culture Council. ###

Michigan Arts & Culture Council
National Endowment for the Arts