In Philadelphia, I collaborated with the Play-on, Philly! Orchestra, an El Sistema-inspired initiative started by my colleague Stanford Thompson, to produce a performance as a part of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s education programming initatives. The Orchestra invited the youngster from West Philadelphia, to perform on the stage of the Kimmel Center as a prelude to Sir Simon Rattle’s performance with the professional group. Rattle, who was instrumental in bringing the project to fruition, noted that by bringing the Philadelphia Orchestra and Play-on, Philly! together, both organization would fulfill “a commitment to the Philadelphia community and highlight the importance of music education in the lives of young people.”
Maestro Ratte and I prepared an arrangement of themes from a Brahms Symphony. The children performed to a sold-out crowd, eliciting a strong emotional response from the audience. For the Philadelphia Orchestra, it was a way of saying, here we are, we want to invite the community-at-large to be a part of our family. We want to be involved in the dreams of a community that sees itself growing with music. The Orchestra is now thinking about how they can best channel some of their existing resources for the benefit of the youngsters. In helping to sustain and grow their work, they have already sent some of their musicians and guest artists to work with the children at the St. Frances De Sales School. In being one with music and community, the Philadelphia Orchestra, is beginning to build a new identity, expanding their artistic role, and placing it in the context of a larger more participatory and inclusive endeavor.
Philadelphia residency (April 21-29), working with the Play on, Philly! Orchestra in preparation for their debut with Sir Simon Rattle, http://philorchtoday.org/news/april-2012/play-on-philly-po
With Sir Simon Rattle at the Curtis Institute of Music, April 29, 2012
Sir Simon Rattle leads the Play on, Philly Orchestra at the Kimmel Center, April 28, 2012