The Olympia Symphony Orchestra and Emerald City Music embark on a joint partnership from September to December 2020, bringing classical music from their stages at the Washington Center and Minnaert Center into the Greater Olympia community. With concert halls remaining inaccessible during the COVID-19 pandemic, each organization will disperse musicians out into different areas of the community to serve, inspire, and bring hope to those most isolated by the pandemic.
“From our own lived experiences, we know that classical music can provide so much hope and healing during troubling times”, says Emerald City Music Executive Director Andrew Goldstein. “It’s so important to us that, while we can’t be on stage, we remain a steadfast beacon of hope for our community. We might not be on stage, but we’re still working hard and dreaming big for what’s possible in Olympia.”
The partnership will initially focus on bringing music – both in-person (as allowed by restrictions on each given date) and virtually (via high-quality performances on the Zoom video platform) – to community members who are most isolated or affected by pandemic.
“The pandemic and isolation have brought our mission into clearer focus,” says Jennifer Hermann, Olympia Symphony Orchestra Executive Director. “In a typical season we would be preparing for audiences to gather and come to us on the stage. We are embracing this opportunity to reflect on the essential role the arts play in our mental, physical, and emotional health, and mobilizing our organizations to meet those in need where they are. By joining forces, we are demonstrating the power of unity, partnership, and collaboration in times of uncertainty and distress.”
Programs and events will occur from September to December 2020, and will include:
Public School Composition Program: As schools announce online curricula for the Fall trimester, students have had their direct music instruction either entirely cut, or drastically transformed to fit into an online setting. The Olympia Symphony and Emerald City Music both have previously served the schools by bringing live classical music into the classroom setting. Now, the organizations are turning their gazes on supporting the music curriculum for fourth and fifth grade classes, where the foundations for middle and high school music education are built. The collaborative program begins with Emerald City Music’s teaching artists – cellist Claire Bryant and bassoonist/composer Brad Balliett; both members of the Decoda Ensemble and lauded performers and instructors –who will work alongside 80 Olympia-area music students to provide a creative composition experience. Through virtual workshops with Bryant and Balliett, students will meet the members of the Olympia Symphony Orchestra, learn about the instrument families, get to know the composer’s toolbox, and together create a new, collaborative composition based on a meaningful folk or indigenous song of Washington state. The workshops will be provided weekly from October 5 – November 20th, 2020, with a culminating virtual performance of the new composition by the Olympia Symphony Orchestra on Emerald City Music’s free end-of-season livestream on Sunday, December 13, 2020.
Violinist Kristin Lee, Artistic Director of Emerald City Music, shares, “I am so thrilled that Emerald City Music is able to use this unique time as an opportunity to shift our focus to the community of Olympia. The Olympia school district has a close place in my heart, especially after doing a tour through over ten different schools with Jennifer Hermann, the executive director of The Olympia Symphony, in past seasons. This opportunity to partner with the orchestra, and bring musical activities to the students while all classes are going virtual, is extremely meaningful to me. I hope this collaboration – using music as our medium – gives hope to students, teachers, and the Olympia community.”
Outreach to Transitional Housing & Shelters: The Olympia Symphony and Emerald City Music have built new partnerships with Olympia’s transitional housing and homeless shelters to bring classical music to many who are most isolated or affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In partnership with Drexel House (the Catholic Community Services 100-unit transitional housing facility on Olympia’s Pacific Ave), InterFaith Works (operating a shelter on Olympia’s Martin Way), Family Support Center of South Sound, and local church temporary homeless shelters, the organizations will provide monthly performances featuring Olympia Symphony’s orchestra musicians – arranged into small ensembles to maintain social distancing – and Emerald City Music’s eight resident artists featured through their Fall 2020 chamber music offerings. Performances will include music, storytelling, and dialogue with residents, occurring from October to December 2020.