Beyond the Concerts: How our Symphony Orchestra Benefits the Community
Photos & Article by Bravos Valley Symphony Orchestra
To instill the appreciation of fine music, the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra performs five classical subscription concerts each season. Aside from paid concerts, however, the BVSO also provides several other events and opportunities to further enrich the local community. Through various outreach programs, the BVSO continues to promote the musical arts for both cultural and educational purposes. More specifically, part of the BVSO’s mission is to help young people develop a love for classical music.
One of the organization’s educational outreach programs is the award-winning Symphony Belles service program for young women in their junior or senior year of high school. At BVSO concerts, Belles fill important roles by taking tickets, passing out programs, and ushering. They interact with Symphony patrons and often aid the community by assisting in food drives or wrapping holiday gifts for CASA children. The two-year program also benefits the Belles themselves by helping them enhance their social skills and etiquette, as well as learning important skills such as self-defense and customer service.
Payton McGinnis, a senior Belle, states that the program gives her, “a well-rounded perspective on life.” She also says that her greatest takeaway from it all is learning, “how important it is to give back to your community, whether that’s through donating materials or donating your time to a cause that you’re passionate about.”
Educational outreach is not, however, limited to just high school students. The Symphony Goes to School Program provides 4th and 5th grade students with a personal presentation from symphony musicians. Each year, selected schools are invited to host a visit by different ensembles that come and educate young students about musical instruments and the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra.
An educator from North Zulch ISD also praises the BVSO for its music education efforts through the Symphony Goes to School program and said, “I cannot thank you enough for making such a difference! The kids really enjoyed it and learned a lot. I am hearing wonderful things. This was awesome.”
Other efforts also include the Brazos Valley Youth Concerto Competition and the annual Children’s Concerts. At the Concerto Competition, students under the age of 18 submit their performances and are selected as finalists by Marcelo Bussiki, Music Director and Conductor of the BVSO. The finalists then perform in front of a panel and a winner is selected to perform with the BVSO in the upcoming Children’s Concert.
The annual Children’s Concert is a private event held to bring thousands of fourth and fifth graders on a school day field trip to the concert. In preparation for this event, teachers are provided with curriculum materials created to help teach students about symphonic music. The children are treated to a live concert performance with music programmed specifically for them and visual elements, such as dancers and audio-visual presentations. To make the entire experience more engaging, a single student from each concert has the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to “guest conduct” the orchestra. Mary Koeninger, the Executive Director of the BVSO, praises these “outstanding educational programs” and explains that it is important for children to gain an understanding of music.
Furthermore, the BVSO performs at an annual July 4th Celebration, the organization’s largest community event. The family-oriented event is free to the public and offers a variety of activities for families to enjoy throughout the day. As the grand finale, the BVSO performs a patriotic concert in front of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library. Koeninger explains, “Thousands of attendees are treated to a wonderful concert that ends with an incredible fireworks display.”
With all of these different programs and activities, the BVSO continues to spread appreciation for music and the performing arts in general. The BVSO not only believes in philanthropy and community service but also believes in music as an overall enhancer to community life here in the Brazos Valley. Learn more at bvso.org.