The Legendary Music of Star Wars
In April 2021, Aiken Symphony brought the legendary music of Star Wars to Redcliffe Elementary School with a live concert performance in the cafeteria. The students, many of whom had never seen music performed live before, were spellbound. In addition, Board members were on hand (some in costume) to provide “jedi lightsaber training” – there was even a visit from Darth Vader! We received several thank you letters from students following the concert. While all the letters were special, one was so impactful that it spurred one of our sponsors, CCNB, to provide funds for that child to purchase a saxophone (her instrument of choice)! What an amazing morning of music education!
Music in the Classroom
Your Aiken Symphony introduced our first educational outreach program, Concerts in Classrooms, during the pandemic of 2020 when in-person outreach was prohibited. The collaboration with the Aiken County Public School District created a set of 12 videos, all professionally recorded and produced by Meadows Media LLC. These videos were edited into sets of three – one geared toward elementary children, one to middle school, and the last to high school students. Each video set featured our Cover Conductor and Librarian “interviewing” a musician. Their instrument (violin, clarinet, cello, and percussion) was highlighted as well as a brief summary of their experiences as professional musicians, including amusing anecdotes, and discussion about famous composers. The videos were sent to every public school in Aiken County for use in the classroom.
It had long been a goal for your Aiken Symphony to find a way to establish an educational program to introduce students to the wonders of classical music. It was, however, surprising that with the upheaval in the 2020-2021 school year, we would find such a great opportunity to begin these efforts.
North Augusta High School Partnership
Your Aiken Symphony’s education outreach for the 2023-2024 school year has begun! With thanks to the Aiken County Public School District (ACPSD) and their Fine Arts Coordinator, Dr. Kimberly Fontanez, we have an exciting year planned! These efforts are funded in part by the South Carolina Arts Commission which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts.
We are partnering with North Augusta High School’s orchestra program to offer its students small-group instruction from several of our professional musicians. The opportunity to enhance instruction in ways that benefit the students and the school is one we embrace! Pictured are Aiken Symphony violinist Drew Preston, cellist Emily Napper, violist Brent Hooper, and bassist Jonathan Burns along with students from NAHS. A visit to the school by our Music Director & Conductor Scott Weiss, additional musician visits, funds for instrument repair and supplies, and complimentary tickets to Aiken Symphony concerts help make this outreach effort extra rewarding.
Partnership With Young Concert Artists
For the second year, we are so pleased to be working with Young Concert Artists and ACPSD’s Fine Arts Coordinator Dr. Kimberly Fontanez to arrange for visits to area schools by talented soloists who are in Aiken to perform in our MasterWorks concerts. In September, pianist Ying Li entertained students from Jackson Middle School and Hammond Hill Elementary with not only her vast talents but also with tales from the stage and what it’s like to travel as a professional musician. Students from each school had the opportunity to ask questions and take photos. Ms. Li’s passion for her profession was on full display and these area students and their teachers were so appreciative of the visits. Additional school visits are scheduled for February and April, 2024.
Artist’s residency activity is made possible through the Annaliese Soros Educational Residency Fund of Young Concert Artists.
With the onset of distanced learning brought on by the pandemic, your AS, with the support of grants and sponsorships, offered patrons the opportunity to purchase livestream access to two concerts. While not recorded for the general public, the livestream was made available for free to all Aiken County Schools.