Palm Beach Symphony Programs Reach Nearly 8,000 Students

Symphony musicians present an in-school concert. Photo courtesy IndieHouse Films

The Palm Beach Symphony reached 7,943 K-12 students during the 2021-22 school year via innovative programs presented at no charge to the schools or students. Players of the Palm Beach Symphony mentored young musicians enrolled in orchestra and band classes, and they also performed for student audiences school-wide across Palm Beach County.

“The musicians really enjoyed being back in the classroom working directly with students this year, while the hybrid remote models we employed during the pandemic allowed us to reach more students than ever before through virtual as well as in-person programs,” said Director of Artistic Operations Olga M. Vazquez, who directed the education initiatives.

Musicians provided 611 hours of instruction in a variety of formats to students in the county’s music programs. Music residences were offered at four Title I schools resulting in a total of 40 class sessions per month for those students. Music students also learned technique, tone, posture and instrument position in 216 coaching sessions that included rehearsing alongside the symphony musicians. In addition, the symphony presented 20 in-school concerts.

Building upon the success of the virtual field trips offered during the pandemic, the symphony presented two children’s concerts. “Eudora’s Fable: The Shoe Bird,” an adaptation of Pulitzer Prize winner Eudora Welty’s only children’s book, was performed to children and families as part of the Dale A. McNulty Children’s Concert Series and in virtual field trips to more than 5,200 students. The concert was a collaboration that featured students from the Young Singers of the Palm Beaches. In addition, workshops relating to the concert were led by symphony music teaching artists in elementary through high school classes.

The symphony also reprised “One Small Step,” encouraging STEAM interest through a trip to the moon, in virtual field trips of the concert to more than 1,100 students. Workshops were also presented to Glades students in conjunction with the concert through collaborations with community partners such as the Cox Science Center and Aquarium and the Demetrius Klein Dance Company.

Student musicians also shared the limelight as 291 participated in performance opportunities at symphony events and in the community. Students and music programs received 109 instrument donations from the symphony that included any necessary accessories such as bows, reeds and mouthpieces.

For the first time, the symphony extended its support of young musicians beyond high school in its inaugural year of the Mary Hilem Taylor Music Scholarship Competition that presented a total of $25,000 to Katie Riley, a graduate student at Lynn University, and Alexandre “AJ” Meyer and Rafael Mendez, both of whom study at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music.

The Lisa Bruna B-Major Award once again presented advanced level instruments to talented graduating high school seniors, as Dion Sellitti, a baritone saxophone student at Santaluces High School, was named the winner, and Dreyfoos School of the Arts oboe student Ellen Dahlstrom was recognized as runner-up. The symphony also paid tribute to dedicated music teachers when Wesley Lowe, Jr., director of instrumental arts at the King’s Academy, was honored as Music Teacher of the Year.