2019 Viola Award Finalist for Excellence in Community Impact (Organization)
“The Carnegie Link Up program is, I think, the most important thing we do all year. This is a program that combines the schools and the orchestra so that the kids come to a concert and they perform with us. It is such a thrilling thing to be a part of.” FSO Music Director Charles Latshaw’s words capture the audience impact of the Link Up program. Those audiences begin with 3600 students from Flagstaff and regional schools, “I was excited to play my recorder on stage this year with the orchestra. I liked the way all the instruments came together to make really nice music,” says Madisyn. Tobias adds, “My favorite parts were playing ‘The Blue Danube’ and dancing together to ‘Cidade’ at the end. I want to come back next year.” These animated responses create a wider ripple, impacting audiences who experience the excitement and joy of the children. Heather Marshall Pierce, a parent writes, “From the mouth of my son, ‘My eyes teared up.’ He was emotionally moved by the music. It’s incredible. Thank you from a mom who believes in its power and so does her kid. Bravo!” A teacher, Diane Dawson Immethun, tells us, “The children I took from Cromer were amazed. They were so excited to rattle off favorite moments and were eager to journal about the experience.” School administrators and community members echo these sentiments. The ripple widens to FSO Board members and funders who see the ideals they support come to life, and finally to Carnegie Hall as they follow every Link Up performance around the world. Link Up generates community through shared creative experience.
“Link Up is a powerful orchestral engagement program because of the quality of musical content and presentation, the inclusion of students as active audience participants and as guest performers, and the dynamic scope and impact of the program,” states Mary Nebel, FSO Link Up Coordinator and Chair of Educational Engagement. “Link Up concerts highlight a year’s worth of musical learning led by classroom teachers. At the concerts, students are not passive audience members. They know the music they are about to hear. They are ready to sing and play with the orchestra on selected pieces and to demonstrate their understanding of musical concepts.”
This season’s program, The Orchestra Rocks, features orchestral works by Verdi, Orff, Tchaikovsky, Holst, and Stravinsky. Students from 22 Flagstaff and regional schools, including Page, Grand Canyon and Sedona will attend one of three concerts March 5, 2019.” Teachers from Grand Canyon and Williams echo a common theme, “Without Link Up, my students would never experience the magic and power of a live symphony in a concert hall.”
FSO joins the Carnegie Hall Link Up community of over 300 orchestras world-wide. Carnegie Hall creates and provides the script, the score, and the animated visual presentations. FSO invests all the resources to manage the program and to present the 3 full-orchestra performances each year. Schools provide essential classroom learning expertise and student transportation. The Flagstaff Community Foundation provides significant financial support to underwrite the concerts. Each musician in FSO chooses to participate in a daytime service that requires time away from work. The Link Up performance connects adult volunteers with school children on concert day. Students receive a sticker, “I played with the Flagstaff Symphony today,” to wear and share with their parents.
A non-revenue generating performance like Link Up requires a significant investment of resources for an orchestra to launch. FSO is one of only a few of the participating Link Up orchestras that does not charge a per pupil fee for attendance at the concert. All Flagstaff public, charter, private and home school students are invited to participate. Schools in Grand Canyon, Williams, Parks, Sedona and Page are also included. The investment makes concrete the mission of the organization: To enrich, engage, and inspire our community through the performance of orchestral music. Cheryl Ossenfort, FSO Executive Director affirms, “The Link Up performances are truly a collaborative effort to extend the experience of the concert hall into the classrooms and lives of the youth of Northern Arizona.”
To see a video highlight of the March 2018 FSO Link Up concerts, go to this link.