BSO Announces OrchLab, A Music-in-Schools Program for Students in Montgomery County

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The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) in partnership with the Montgomery County Public Schools announces OrchLab, a music-in-schools program for elementary, middle and high school students in Montgomery County.

Students from Wheaton-Loiederman Middle and High School observe Marin Alsop leading a Baltimore Symphony Orchestra rehearsal.

The BSO seeks to...create meaningful impact in the lives of a new generation of music-lovers.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) in partnership with the Montgomery County Public Schools announces OrchLab, a music-in-schools program for elementary, middle and high school students in Montgomery County. OrchLab was created to enrich the instrumental music program in schools within the MCPS system that have the greatest need, as well as to provide professional development opportunities for MCPS music instructors. For the 2012-2013 academic year, OrchLab will be piloted in 23 of the schools located in the Downcounty and Northeast Consortia of the MCPS System.

To launch the program, student musicians from the A. Mario Loiederman Middle and Wheaton High Schools had the unique experience of sitting onstage adjacent to their instrumental counterparts for the BSO’s rehearsal of Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8 under the direction of Maestra Alsop on November 13, 2012 at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. In advance of this session, the BSO Library provided parts and scores to the students for study. A photo of this experience is available here.

OrchLab is an outgrowth of BSO on the Go, the Orchestra’s education outreach program that has provided more than 12,000 students with classroom instruction and performances from BSO musicians since that program’s start five years ago. The new OrchLab program will continue to encompass interactive classroom visits to elementary schools by BSO musicians. New, however, will be OrchLab’s enhanced service to middle and high school music students, with particular focus on reaching Montgomery County’s underprivileged students. Instrumental ensembles from MCPS’ middle and high schools can now benefit from up to three mentorship visits from BSO musicians. Further, participating middle and high school musicians will have the opportunity to attend one BSO concert at The Music Center at Strathmore.

OrchLab will also provide professional development opportunities for MCPS instrumental music teachers in forums featuring BSO musicians. In the pilot year, OrchLab intends to conduct a daylong seminar featuring student ensembles from cluster schools in sessions that will be mentored by BSO musicians, with topics that range from breathing techniques to how to mentor student concertmasters.

“The BSO seeks to not only serve Montgomery County with excellent performances at The Music Center at Strathmore, but also create meaningful impact in the lives of a new generation of music-lovers,” said BSO Vice President of Education Carol Bogash. “OrchLab does exactly that: we are coming alongside MCPS’ existing programs to further enrich the musical training of some of that county’s neediest youth.”

In collaboration with the BSO’s education team, BSO Community Liaison Dick Spero was the key staff member who oversaw BSO on the Go and he will also coordinate this new initiative. He explains, “OrchLab is a great example of the kind of outreach an orchestra should be doing in the 21st century: giving back to its community by nurturing the musical creativity of the next generation.”

To develop the parameters of the initial OrchLab pilot, the BSO worked with the MCPS fine arts curriculum team and Betsy Brown, Director of Curriculum and Instruction. This team shares OrchLab’s vision: when practitioners connect with students, young people have the chance to learn the specific methods and rewards of a particular field of study. Further, Brown expects that participation in music ensembles can contribute to students’ academic success. She expressed her appreciation of OrchLab’s effort to support young musicians, stating, “The BSO-MCPS partnership will benefit students, teachers, and the greater community.”

About the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
The Grammy Award-winning Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) is internationally recognized as having achieved a preeminent place among the world's most important orchestras. Acclaimed for its enduring pursuit of artistic excellence, the BSO has attracted a devoted national and international following while maintaining deep bonds throughout Maryland with innovative education and community outreach initiatives.

The BSO made musical history in September 2007, when Maestra Marin Alsop led her inaugural concerts as the Orchestra’s 12th music director, making her the first woman to head a major American orchestra. With her highly praised artistic vision, her dynamic musicianship and her commitment to accessibility in classical music, Maestra Alsop’s leadership has ushered in a new era for the BSO and its audiences.

Under Music Director Marin Alsop’s leadership, the BSO has rapidly added several critically acclaimed albums to its already impressive discography. The BSO and Maestra Alsop partnered with the Naxos label to record a three-disk Dvořák symphony cycle. The first disc, which includes Symphony No. 9, “From the New World” and Symphonic Variations, was released in February 2008. The second disk in this cycle features Symphonies Nos. 7 and 8, was released in June 2010, and the third disk features Symphony No. 6, Nocturne in B major, and Scherzo capriccioso was released in 2010. Following the success of the BSO’s cycle of Dvořák recordings, the BSO released two new recordings in 2012. The first features Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra and Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, and the second, Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, “Titan.” The BSO and Maestra Alsop also recorded and released with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet a one-disk recording of Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue & Piano Concerto in 2010. In August 2009, the BSO and Marin Alsop released Bernstein’s Mass featuring baritone Jubilant Sykes, the Morgan State University Choir and the Peabody Children’s Chorus. The album rose to number six on the Classical Billboard Charts and received a 2009 Grammy nomination for Best Classical Album. The Orchestra made its foray into online distribution in April 2007 with the release of a live-concert recording of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring on iTunes, which quickly became the site’s number one classical music download.

In addition to the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, where the orchestra has performed for 28 years, the BSO is a founding partner and the resident orchestra at the state-of-the-art Music Center at Strathmore, just outside of Washington, D.C. With the opening of Strathmore in February 2005, the BSO became the nation’s only major orchestra with year-round venues in two metropolitan areas.


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Laura Farmer
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
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