For Family Fest I had the pleasure of working with four different music presenters all in one day! They were a fabulously diverse line-up and exemplified the aspects of music-making that we try to emphasize in our regular performing arts programming. I recently posted about Tony Fonseca’s program and the importance of musical experimentation. The Boston City-wide String Orchestra, on the other hand, inspired the audience by encouraging observation.
One of our modes of performing arts programming at BCM is “kids performing for kids”. This mode has two purposes: to provide a venue and performance opportunity for Boston area youth; and to expose visiting families to the opportunities for artistic engagement that Boston has to offer.
The Boston City-wide String Orchestra is a multi-generational ensemble open to any string player that reads music and can commit to practices. There is no age limit – currently the ensemble ranges from 5th grade to adult – with the majority being middle and high school students. They practice once a week for three hours at Timilty Middle School and operate under the umbrella of the National Center for Afro-American Artists.
This type of program inspires visitors in many different ways. Museum president, Carole Charnow, was moved to tears by the demonstration of these young artists’ dedication and aspirations. A young girl was ready to join up, then and there. Her parents were drawn into conversation with BCSO leaders Betty Hilmon and Josue Gonsalez. During the performance, younger children were asking their grown-ups questions and families kept them engaged saying “Look, do you see that one? That’s a cello. Listen, doesn’t it sound different from the violin?”. BCSO also encouraged active observation by having the audience identify musical themes, introducing the instruments and finally inviting a member of the audience to conduct the orchestra.
Every time we invite kids to perform at the museum, we hope that families are inspired to listen, look and imagine how arts education could enrich their own lives.