The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Rocco Landesman announced today that Lexington Symphony will receive an NEA Art Works grant. Lexington Symphony has been awarded $10,000 to support its celebrated educational program, Orchestrating Kids Through Classics. There were only 96 music grants awarded nationwide, making this an extremely competitive category.
Congressman Ed Markey congratulated the Lexington Symphony, writing in a letter that “Orchestrating Kids Through Classics introduces children to the power of music at a young age and greatly enhances their educational experience.”
Orchestrating Kids Through ClassicsTM (OKTC) began in 2009. Created collaboratively by Lexington Symphony Music Director Jonathan McPhee and a group of Lexington Symphony musicians, the program was supported by a grant from the Lexington Education Foundation. That first year, OKTC was presented only to Lexington students. Four years later, the program now serves nearly 3,000 students each year from towns from all around the Boston area and the state, including Lawrence, Dorchester, Framingham, Wilmington, Burlington, Arlington, and many more. This grant from the National Endowment from the Arts will help Lexington Symphony expand the program even further and reach more children.
The grant supports “public engagement with artistic excellence” and projects that provide “Americans with new opportunities to have profound and meaningful arts experiences.” We at Lexington Symphony are pleased and proud that NEA recognized our OKTC program as an innovative project that meets their high standards.
OKTC is part of the symphony’s commitment to music education. It begins with a group of four Lexington Symphony musiciansvisiting each elementary school, where the musicians engage the students in small groups and prepare them for the concert. Click here to read about some of the questions students ask the musicians!
Then comes the big concert! Click here to see a Lexington Patch video of the OKTC concert. At the concert, the orchestra, led by Music Director Jonathan McPhee, winner of the Gabriel Award for his work with kids, takes the audience on a tour of the orchestra from its very beginnings 500 years ago through present-day Star Wars, with many creative flourishes along the way, including ringing cell phones, chanting monks, a virtuosic child performer, and an appearance by Darth Vader.
The children often come in with no preconceived ideas about or experience of classical music and love it. One student wrote after the concert this year, “It was amazing! Someday I hope I’ll be able to play in an orchestra like you.” Another wrote, “The music was awesome, I wish I could go again…You guys convinced me to play an instrument.”
Parents love the program, too. Jennifer Lawrence, a Lexington paren, recently wrote, “A few years ago, I chaperoned the Orchestrating for Kids [sic] program for all Lexington third graders and was absolutely amazed by the program’s ability to introduce kids to the history of music in such a compelling way. My daughter was completely entranced!”