News Column

Exploration of Music through Orchestra concert Friday grows to 13 schools

May 29, 2014

By Kevin Kilbane, The News-Sentinel (Fort Wayne, Ind.)

May 29--In its first year in 2011, the Exploration of Music through Orchestra concert attracted about 100 high school musicians from two schools.

This year, the concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday at South Side High School will involve about 300 students from 13 schools in Fort Wayne Community Schools district.

"Come ready to listen to great music and to hear the talent we have in the community," said Jamal Robinson, founder of the nonprofit Believe in a Dream foundation, which organizes the event.

Robinson and others started the Exploration of Music concerts to encourage more youngsters to join school orchestra programs and to continue with them through high school.

In the past three years, the event also has raised nearly $10,000 for orchestra programs at the participating schools, Robinson said. The money has helped the schools buy instrument strings, repair instruments, purchase music and, in one case, replace tuxedo shirts that had been used for 13 years.

Originally for full orchestras, Exploration of Music through Orchestra organizers chose to focus on string music players last year because more schools have string music programs, Robinson said. They will do the same this year.

The number of schools participating increased to seven last year, and nearly doubled for Friday's concert.

Along with students from original 2011 participants Northrop and Snider high schools, this year's concert will include youth musicians from North Side, South Side and Wayne high schools; Blackhawk, Jefferson, Lane, Memorial Park, Northwood, Portage and Shawnee middle schools; and Weisser Park Elementary.

The event was moved this year to South Side High School from Northrop because South Side is more accessible and centrally located among the schools taking part, Robinson said.

Smaller groups of students will play a few songs at the beginning of the concert, he said. Students will close out the concert by all playing together on "Over the Rainbow."

Robinson also expressed excitement about a possible partnership next year with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic.

Details haven't been worked out, but possibilities could include side-by-side concerts with students playing next to The Phil's professionals or Phil musicians serving as mentors in school classrooms, he said.

"Getting students to play with professionals, that would be awesome for them," he added.


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