Symphony orchestra earns Arts Council support

Local News

The Quad City Symphony Orchestra has been awarded a $10,000 Virtual Arts Experience Grant from the Iowa Arts Council.

The orchestra was one of only eight arts organizations and schools in the state to receive funding in this first round of this new grant opportunity that addresses the needs of arts organizations to pivot some or all of their programming and services to their communities from in-person to online, digital engagement, a news release says.

According to the IAC website, the funding serves to “help arts organizations and educators develop creative ways to reach students and adults in an online learning environment” and recipients will have access to “professional-development and multi-part training, which will help educators create innovative online arts resources and navigate multiple modes of instruction”.

The grant funding will help the orchestra continue to provide two of its popular, annual education programs – Symphony Day and classroom engagements – in the remote learning environment by providing digital access for area schoolteachers. Held each February, Symphony Day is the largest single-day music education program available in the Quad Cities.

Annually, more than 6,000 fourth- and fifth-grade students from more than 80 schools attend one of three free classical music concerts performed by the Youth Symphony Orchestra (YSO) with educational instruction provided by YSO Conductor Ernesto Estigarribia The IAC funding gives the orchestra capacity to record the program through a professional production company and make the content available, via a private YouTube link, to area teachers for free to utilize in their classrooms on their own time.

“We are extremely grateful and excited to receive this support that will allow us to reach thousands of elementary school students through technology,” said Estigarribia. “In times of distancing and isolation, we must innovate to continue engaging with the youngest members of society, inspire them about music and the orchestra, and support the herculean efforts of music educators in the classrooms.”

Additionally, the grant will allow the orchestra to continue with its K-8 education engagements in the classroom. These classroom engagements will now take on two virtual formats. Our usual elementary school presentations on the instruments and elements of the symphony orchestra will now happen as interview sessions that QCSO Director of Education Marc Zyla will record on Zoom with various musicians, presenting talking points on orchestra instruments and elements of orchestral music.

The second format will be comprised of four recorded ensemble performances of QCSO musicians with educational instruction. The recordings will be available as YouTube links for teachers to use as digital assets when it fits their curriculum.

“Connection with our local school systems is paramount,” said Zyla. “In this time of constant change, this funding will allow us to have a constant presence in local music curriculum and continue to build strong bonds with teachers, parents, and students. The Quad City Symphony is proud to say that it’s musicians have been engaging with local students for decades, and we proud that with IAC’s help, a global pandemic couldn’t stop that effort.”

As with the normal Symphony Day and in-person engagements, digital access to these programs will be provided at no cost to area schools.

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