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The Portland Symphony Orchestra receives Innovation Grant from the League of American Orchestras’ Futures Fund – Grant Supports PSO’s Innovative Spirit and Impact

Jul 29 2018

Portland, MAINE – The Portland Symphony Orchestra was one of just twenty-one orchestras from across the United States to receive a grant from the League of American Orchestras’ American Orchestras’ Futures Fund.

The two-year innovation grant totaling $80,000, made possible by the generosity of the Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation, will support the Portland Symphony Orchestra’s Explorers Program for the next two school years: 2017-18 and 2018-19.

The PSO Explorers is an arts-integrated curriculum that uses music to advance the literacy, social, and emotional skills of early elementary school students through frequent and repeated musical experiences. Highly collaborative in nature, the program team includes PSO musicians, PSO education staff, classroom teachers and the school music instructor. The program offers two musicians assigned per grade level. Initially started three years ago with a single pilot program, this program has grown to include kindergarten in two Portland schools: Reiche and Longfellow, and first grade at Reiche. Next year the program will be offered through second grade at Reiche and through first grade at Longfellow. The PSO Explorers was awarded the Yale Distinguished Music Education Partnership Award in 2015 by Yale School of Music, for outstanding service to music education in the public schools.

“We’re honored to receive these funds for the Explorers Program from the League of American Orchestras,” said PSO Executive Director Carolyn Nishon. “We’ve been fortunate to have received support from the Bingham Trust and the Bob Crewe Foundation; to add the prestigious League to the list of funders is further validation of the program’s importance. We’re additionally grateful for the opportunity to set a total of $60,000 from the LAO grant into an endowment dedicated to the PSO Explorers. Everyone at the PSO — musicians, teachers, and administrators — believes this program has the ability to make a real difference in the lives of Maine children.”

John Elliott, PSO Director of Education, spoke of the impact of the program, “One of the kindergarten teachers we work with told me that repeated visits by PSO musicians has increased excitement in her classroom, and that pairing music with the curriculum has helped her students better comprehend their lesson and meet their academic goals.”

“These twenty-one orchestras from across the country were chosen for their ability to influence a positive future for the art form,” said Jesse Rosen, President and CEO, League of American Orchestras. “They are making significant and exciting investments in organizational learning and innovation. We are grateful to the Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation for their visionary support of this new program.”

“We are delighted by the diversity and reach of the twenty-one initiatives chosen in the first round of the American Orchestras’ Futures Fund,” said Lisa Delan, Director, the Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation. “The Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation is deeply appreciative of the opportunity to collaborate with the League of American Orchestras on this program, and for the vision and courageousness of its member orchestras in exploring new ways to impact their communities, field-wide learning, and the future of classical music.”

The $4.5 million American Orchestras’ Future Fund program will include another round of two-year grants for small- and medium-budget orchestras, to be announced in 2018.

The initiatives funded include a wide range of innovation efforts, from community and neighborhood residencies, programs redefining the concert experience, and projects aimed at increasing audience diversity, to piloting new organizational practices, fruitful artistic collaborations, and the use of new technologies within the concert hall.

For this first round, U.S.-based large- and medium-budget orchestras that are members of the League of American Orchestras were eligible to apply. An independent review panel selected the orchestras based on criteria including the organization’s capacity to respond and adapt to opportunities and changed circumstances, and the potential for artistic, internal, community, public value, and field-wide impact. The program and evaluation consultants

for the American Orchestras’ Futures Fund are, respectively, Sarah Lutman (Lutman & Associates) and Dr. Dennie Palmer Wolf (WolfBrown).

This round’s Futures Fund recipients include:

Albany Symphony – expansion of the American Music Festival, the Symphony’s multi-day celebration of living American composers and new orchestral compositions

Boston Symphony Orchestra – launch of BSO in Residence, an engagement initiative to build reciprocal partnerships between neighborhoods and the orchestra

Dallas Symphony Orchestra – support for three audience development initiatives: DSO Teen Council, ReMix concert series, and SOLUNA International Music & Arts Festival

Detroit Symphony Orchestra – expansion of the Neighborhood Residency Initiative, in order to connect more deeply with audiences and diversify learning and service

Handel and Haydn Society – launch of research that will test hypotheses about barriers to attendance and identify strategies for increasing the racial diversity of the audience

Houston Symphony – support for the Community-Embedded Musicians initiative, which expands the orchestra’s team of full-time musicians by adding four new hybrid positions

Knoxville Symphony – launch of the colLABoratory series to attract new concert goers and support of the Music & Wellness program, which enhances the healing process

Los Angeles Philharmonic – expansion of the El Sistema-inspired Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) in order to increase its national as well as local impact

Minnesota Orchestra – enhancement of The Minnesota Model, a framework to address organizational priorities and create shared ownership among all orchestra stakeholders

Nashville Symphony – support for the diversity plan, including inventive programming, preparing young musicians of diverse backgrounds, and altering the organizational culture

New Haven Symphony Orchestra – launch of a string fellowship program to encourage inclusion and diversity in the concert hall and across the community

New World Symphony – support for audience development: a collaboratively sourced symphonic video involving community residents and musician-driven concerts and events

New York Philharmonic – support for Facebook Live broadcasts to reach new and diverse audiences around the world through performances, interviews, and online conversation

Oakland Symphony – launch of the Playlist concert series, blending a concert with a town hall experience to explore the unexpected role music plays beyond the concert stage

Orchestra of St. Luke’s – support for Classical Music Made Digital, an initiative for creating a content strategy and distribution model informed by other musical genres and art forms

Pacific Symphony – support for engaging an increasingly diverse community, including continuing experimentation with site-specific concerts and partnership-based programming

Portland Symphony Orchestra (Maine) – expansion of the PSO Explorers program, an arts-integrated literacy program in the Portland Public Schools that will serve grades K-3

Richmond Symphony – support for several community programs including the Big Tent Project, which brings music to greenspaces, and the VIBE afterschool music program

San Diego Symphony – support for engaging a diverse community, including annual month-long festivals designed around thematic ideas addressing important issues of today

San Francisco Symphony – support for SoundBox, a concert series in an experimental space that enables the audience to approach classical music in a new way

Seattle Symphony – expansion of the Simple Gifts homelessness initiative, including programs for people recovering from addiction and programs for women and children

About the Portland Symphony Orchestra:

Founded in 1923, the Portland Symphony Orchestra (PSO) is the largest performing arts organization in Maine and is widely regarded as one of the top symphony orchestras of its size in the country. Made up of more than 80 professional musicians, the PSO is renowned for its critically acclaimed performances and broad community engagement. The Symphony’s mission is to serve the community by enriching lives through music. More information can be found at www.portlandsymphony.org.

The League of American Orchestras leads, supports, and champions America’s orchestras and the vitality of the music they perform. Its diverse membership of more than 2,000 organizations and individuals across North America runs the gamut from world-renowned symphonies to community groups, from summer festivals to student and youth ensembles, from conservatories to libraries, from businesses serving orchestras to individuals who love symphonic music. The only national organization dedicated solely to the orchestral experience, the League is a nexus of knowledge and innovation, advocacy, and leadership advancement. Its conferences and events, award-winning Symphony magazine, website, and other publications inform people around the world about orchestral activity and developments. Founded in 1942 and chartered by Congress in 1962, the League links a national network of thousands of instrumentalists, conductors, managers and administrators, board members, volunteers, and business partners. Visit americanorchestras.org.

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