Over the past two years, the number of school age patrons in attendance at Harrisburg Symphony concerts has been growing. One of the reasons for this growth is the now nearly two year old pre-concert Welcome to the Concert program. Begun with seed money from The Foundation for Enhancing Communities, Welcome to the Concert gives elementary and middle school-age students some helpful tools to approach the concert they are about to attend.
The Symphony’s Education Department prepares lesson plans, informative hand-outs, and a mini-workshop for each young concert-goer who wishes to attend the special free pre-concert programs in the Lobby of the Forum. Recent Welcome to the Concert activities have included making and decorating violins; creating bandannas with repetitive patterns in celebration of the HSO’s performance of Aaron Copland’s Billy the Kid Suite; creating the floral tribute bouquet presented on-stage to a guest soloist; and painting a 15-foot mural with beautiful scenes reminiscent of the majestic landscape depicted in Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 3. One of the highlights of each half-hour Welcome to the Concert session is a visit with one of the musicians playing the concert, sometimes, schedule permitting, a guest artist for the concert.
Welcome to the Concert allows families to attend HSO Masterworks performances as informed, prepared concert-goers. Not to overlook the adult concert-goers, the HSO also presents informative Classical Conversations prior to each Masterworks concert. Led by notable local music scholars and conductors, Classical Conversations takes place one hour prior to concert start time inside the Forum auditorium.
Families are also drawn to the HSO’s Masterworks concerts because the Orchestra offers a special deeply discounted subscription for the entire season. The HSO has just announced for its 2012/13 season a new program called Musical Chairs, which offers a $35 per seat subscription for families with school- age (K-12) students.
“We have a serious interest in making HSO concerts accessible to everyone in the community”, noted HSO Education Director, Alice Anne Schwab. “Musical Chairs is our latest venture to encourage young people to explore the world of classical music live in a beautiful concert hall with a top-notch orchestra. We can all enjoy very high level performances without leaving our city.”