2006 MetLife Awardees
Mill Valley Philharmonic
Based in California’s Marin County, Mill Valley Philharmonic is organized around a Comprehensive Community Involvement (CCI) program, offering all of its concerts free of charge in donated venues. Each year the MVP presents from nine to eleven concerts in three distinct programs, mostly in collaborative venues such as senior-citizen facilities, community centers, and places of worship. It performs with a core of amateur musicians reinforced with professional soloists and section principals. The orchestra seeks out local agencies, such as the local Boys and Girls Club and community-services districts, to help with concert preparation and publicity.
The MVP’s goal is to provide first-rate performances while collaborating with the community, with all 50 of its musicians involved as volunteers in the CCI program. CCI strategy calls for rotating performance venues and creating variable contexts to attract different publics. It also systematically integrates audience education into each performance, attempting to reach the entire community by making the orchestra an active member of that community rather than a “visitor.”
San Antonio Symphony
For the past seventeen years the San Antonio Symphony has presented a one-week residency at St. Philip’s College. Located on the city’s East Side, and primarily serving residents from its immediate neighborhood, St. Philip’s is the nation’s only institution designated by the Department of Education as both a Historically Black College and a Hispanic-serving institution. The typical residency week includes four music-appreciation classes; six to seven open rehearsals; master classes taught by guest soloists and San Antonio Symphony members; two chamber-orchestra concerts, one for elementary students and another for high-school and college students; and a culminating event consisting of a pre-concert conversation with guest conductor and soloist, a full-orchestra concert, and a post-concert reception that allows orchestra members to mingle with community residents.
All residency events are free and open to the public as well as the college community. Approximately 2,400 attend each year, and as a result of the residency St. Philip’s students attend regular San Antonio Symphony concerts, either individually (through the half-price student discount program) or as a class arranged by their instructors, in which case the orchestra offers complimentary or $1 tickets. The residency is a vital component of the Fine Arts Department at St. Philip’s and has spawned a high-school fine arts academy at the college designed to engage talented young students in the arts, keeping them in school and encouraging them to continue their education.
The ACCESS Project (Artistic and Cultural Community Engagement with Seattle Symphony) provides concerts and educational activities for specific Seattle neighborhoods that have been underserved by traditional arts organizations. Seattle Symphony staff developed ACCESS through consultation with the orchestra’s Community Engagement Advisory Council and six consortium partners: Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, Seattle Public Schools, Seattle Public Library, West Seattle Kiwanis Club, The Sphinx Organization, and the Greater Seattle Chapter of the Links (a national association of prominent African-American women).
ACCESS has three main components: a) a program of free neighborhood activities that encompasses five community concerts, early-childhood music classes at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center and five other sites, and school visits by Seattle Symphony education staff and a soloist from Sphinx (an organization that identifies talented young African-American and Latino string players); b) activities at Benaroya Hall, including complimentary family passes to Soundbridge Seattle Symphony Music Discovery Center and free tickets to Meet the Beat education concerts for secondary and high-school students; and c) free curriculum-planning workshops for area teachers that help them identify creative ways to incorporate music and the arts into their daily lesson plans.