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In front of a capacity audience for its Free PopUP Concert in Verizon Hall on Thursday, April 7, Philadelphia Orchestra President and CEO Allison Vulgamore stood alongside Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin and announced HEAR, a series of collaborative learning initiatives that represents the most comprehensive and dynamic community engagement in the Orchestra’s recent history. Spanning four categories—Health, Education, Access, and Research—HEAR is a portfolio of programs that promotes wellness, champions music education, eliminates barriers to accessing the Orchestra, and maximizes impact through research, all throughout the Philadelphia region.
HEAR identifies the channels that the Orchestra will use to build partnerships and invest in Philadelphia, not only with Orchestra musicians, but also with additional musical assets, including community leaders, teaching artists, music therapists, and more.
“Philadelphia is our home, and the Orchestra dwells here in service to the people in its many communities, performing music, encouraging music-making, and improving the quality of life,” said Vulgamore. “HEAR will expand the Orchestra's reach on and off the stage, and utilize our talents and resources in support of the social compact we share with all Philadelphians. We are eager to join ‘all in’ with Philadelphia through the enriching power of music.”
At any given time, there are hundreds of people living on the streets of Philadelphia, many of whom have behavioral health challenges, encompassing mental health and substance abuse issues. In partnership with Temple University’s Arts and Quality of Life Research Center and Broad Street Ministry, Philadelphia Orchestra musicians have received training to develop intimate and informal opportunities to bring comfort to our neighbors who will benefit from music therapy.
Through a comprehensive partnership with the School District, the Orchestra will address key needs by strengthening existing programs, optimizing the supporting ecosystem of arts partners, and investing in its future. Working in tandem with the School District, the Orchestra will increase access to high-quality music education throughout Philadelphia, starting with the most underserved neighborhoods where students will benefit from the cognitive and social-economic benefits of music.
A highlight of the education initiative is an unprecedented partnership with the Eastman Music Company. This summer Eastman and the Orchestra will launch a “buy one, give one” program. Incorporating feedback from Philadelphia Orchestra musicians, Eastman has designed La Scala, a new line of instruments specifically developed for the program. For every one purchased, one will go to a student in need in Philadelphia.
In March the Orchestra announced the formalization of its partnership with the School District of Philadelphia’s All-City Orchestra as Lead Artistic and Presenting Partner. The Orchestra will now present the All-Philadelphia High School Music Festival in Verizon Hall annually and will provide significantly increased leadership, mentorship from Orchestra musicians, tickets to Orchestra concerts, and an increased number of sectionals. Yannick has worked with the All-City students numerous times in the past, including at the 2015 and 2016 festivals.
Philadelphia Orchestra President and CEO Allison Vulgamore announcing the details of HEAR at the April 7 Free PopUP performance. Photo by Jessica Griffin
A full array of Orchestra programs eliminate barriers to access for listeners of all ages to experience orchestral music either as listeners or performers. These include participatory programs such as PlayINs, SingINs, Side-by-Side rehearsals with amateur musicians, the Albert M. Greenfield Student Competition for young musicians in the Greater Philadelphia area, and NYO2, the newly-launched collaborative project with Carnegie Hall that expands the existing National Youth Orchestra (NYO) and makes it available to more students. There are regular opportunities for all Philadelphians to experience this great Orchestra throughout the city with Sound All Around concerts for children ages 3-5, Family Concerts, School Concerts, Free Neighborhood Concerts, and PopUPs. The Orchestra also provides numerous ways for audiences to learn more about music with open rehearsals, PreConcert Lectures, and its innovative in-concert app, LiveNote™.
Each initiative within HEAR leans on an existing body of research that underscores the benefits of music and music education. Through research in collaboration with local universities and other partners, The Philadelphia Orchestra expects to gain insights for actions that will create social and community benefit under HEAR programs. The partnership with Temple and Broad Street Ministry is one example of how the HEAR initiatives will be enhanced through ongoing research over time.