From September 11-17, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will be celebrating National Arts in Education Week. Designated by Congress in 2010 through House Resolution 275, this nationally recognized celebration was created to highlight the importance of providing equitable access to arts education for students to elected officials and decision makers across the nation.
During this week, artists, arts organizations, and arts educators across the country will share stories that highlight the value and the transformative impact of the arts in students’ lives.
As part of the celebration, the CSO will be sharing examples of the many ways that music education is celebrated in and outside of Orchestra Hall, from the century-long history of concerts for children, in-school chamber performances offered by CSO musicians, multi-year school partnerships, and unique training opportunities for young musicians across the city of Chicago.
Tune in to this page and on Facebook to learn more throughout the week. You can also share your own personal story: let us know how arts education has had a positive impact in your life, using the hashtag #ArtsEdWeek and #BecauseOfArtsEd.
A Century-long Tradition Continues: Frederick Stock’s Children’s Concerts and the Civic Music Student Orchestra
During the 1919-20 season, CSO music director Frederick Stock inaugurated three major initiatives to provide access to extraordinary music making for the Chicago community and cultivate future generations of musicians and concertgoers: Children’s Concerts, Youth Auditions, and the Civic Music Student Orchestra.
Stock led the first of a regular series of Children’s Concerts designed to introduce young Chicagoans to music in November of 1919. This tradition has continued for nearly a century, with the CSO offering over 15 concerts each year for school groups and special access to select CSO rehearsals for invited high school audiences, reaching over 50,000 students annually.
In March of 1919, Stock founded the Civic Music Student Orchestra, which is now known as the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. Today, the Civic presents over a dozen public performances each year and has a strong presence in community locations and in schools, offering chamber music performances and short-term residencies in community music schools and Chicago-area high schools.
CSO Musicians Share Their Artistry With Young Instrumentalists
Members of the CSO share their skills and artistry nearly every day with young musicians in Chicagoland and abroad. As mentors and coaches to the Civic Orchestra, CSO members pass on the wisdom of their experience to the next generation of orchestral musicians. Many CSO members serve on faculty at Chicago-area universities, teach in private studios, and offer lessons and masterclasses while on national and international tours. And in self-organized chamber ensembles, they joyfully offer educational performances at Chicago schools and community organizations reaching over 7,000 students each year.
The Civic Orchestra of Chicago Collaborates with Schurz High School Students
On June 10, 2016, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago spent the day with students and staff of Carl Schurz High School. The event, which was the culmination of several planning meetings between members of the orchestra and teachers at the high school, was a celebration of music and arts education.
Members of the orchestra arrived at Schurz on the morning of June 10th and spent several hours with students in the Visual Arts, Music, English and Dance departments. The orchestra members and students collaborated on short performance pieces which they later performed during an all-school afternoon assembly, which also featured a side-by-side performance of the Civic Orchestra and members of the Schurz band, orchestra and chorus.
In the evening, the Civic Orchestra took the Schurz stage once again to perform Mozart’s 40th Symphony and Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. Students in the Schurz music department joined the Civic Orchestra on stage to perform Beethoven’s Ode to Joy as a finale to the event.
The CSO Provides Programming and Resources to Schools
The CSO’s Negaunee Music Institute offers a variety of programs and resources to share the transformational power of music with students and teachers in Chicago Public Schools each year. From inspiring in-school performances by Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Civic Orchestra musicians, collaboratively planned teaching artist residencies, extensive professional development for teachers, and coaching of young instrumentalists, the CSO is proud to engage with more than 130 CPS schools each year.
“This joint partnership between the CSO and Chicago Public School is outstanding and is a great way to introduce students to classical music and to the world-class musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The professional development offered through this program is some of the best I’ve ever attended.” Chris Dixon, music teacher, Edwards Elementary School
The Chicago Youth in Music Festival Celebrates Young Musicians
The Chicago Youth in Music Festival is an annual celebration of young classical musicians from across Chicago, presented in partnership with thirteen community music schools and youth orchestras who bring exceptional music education to thousands of students each year.
In past years, the festival has provided community youth orchestras with the unique experience of an on-site residency featuring musicians from the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, later performing side-by-side with Civic Orchestra members on stage at Orchestra Hall.
The 2017 Festival will include extensive coaching opportunities for young instrumentalists, beginner to advanced, by CSO Music Director Riccardo Muti and musicians of the CSO and Civic Orchestra, as well as a free concert by the CSO’s Percussion Scholarship Group for Chicago Public Schools students in grades 4-5.
The CSO’s Percussion Scholarship Program
For over 21 years, the CSO’s Percussion Scholarship Program has offered intensive, weekly percussion instruction to Chicago youth in grades 3-12 at no cost to the participants. The students, who come from schools all over the city of Chicago, work intensively with CSO percussionist Patricia Dash and Lyric Opera percussionist Douglas Waddell.
Every student who has graduated from the Percussion Scholarship Program has gone on to attend college, and many of the program’s earliest graduates have graduated from the nation’s finest universities and music schools.
Members of the program perform several concerts each year as a performing ensemble, including a free performance for Chicago Public School students during the Chicago Youth in Music Festival.
The CSO Welcomes Students to Orchestra Hall
Each year, the CSO welcomes approximately 30,000 students to Orchestra Hall for one-of-a-kind concerts that inspire a life-long appreciation for music and connect with musical and non-musical skills. The CSO offers a continuum of age-appropriate concerts experiences for school audiences, including: Once Upon a Symphony (grades Pre-K–K), intimate, story-based concerts that introduce young children to the world of classical music and instruments of the orchestra; CSO School Concerts (grades K–8), featuring a full orchestra, masterworks of the repertoire, dynamic conductors, special guest artists and collaborations with other Chicago cultural organizations; and a series of open rehearsals for grades 9-12, which offer access to a working rehearsal of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
The student card to the right reads: “Dear Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Congratulations on your 125th Birthday! You wonderful people are so important to our community. I really appreciate the effort you are doing for our community. Watching you is like a wish come true. I wish you many more. You guys excite me because I am a fan of music. I have a piano and when my teacher Ms. Milstein played the music I tried to copy the tunes and play it on my piano. I am such a lover of your music…I really hope you have a very wonderful birthday. Sincerely, Denis B.”