DSO receives $600,000 grant from Dresner Foundation to increase access to music for underserved youth in Detroit
Gift will enable DSO’s Wu Family Academy to launch a new entry-level, afterschool youth music program and increase access to its Educational Concert Series and Classroom Edition webcasts
Detroit, (March 2, 2017) – The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) today announced that it has received a generous grant from the Dresner Foundation to provide comprehensive music education for underserved youth in Detroit. The grant—$600,000 over two years—will enable the DSO’s Wu Family Academy to launch a new, free entry-level program to be named the Dresner Foundation Allegro Ensemble in addition to expanding the reach of its Educational Concert Series and Classroom Edition webcasts.
“Education is central to the mission of the DSO, and we continuously strive to increase our impact,” said DSO President and CEO Anne Parsons. “Our Wu Family Academy programs provide services to more than 100,000 students throughout Southeast Michigan each season. Through concerts and training programs, we seek to aid students in developing critical and analytical skills, facilitate teamwork, and encourage social success. Thanks to the generosity of the Dresner Foundation, we are thrilled to be able to expand our offerings to meet the growing needs of our community.”
“This is an incredible opportunity for a significant number of Detroit youth to begin their musical journey. The Dresner Foundation is pleased to support the DSO’s music education programs,” said Virginia Romano, Managing Director of the Dresner Foundation.
Launching this fall, the new Dresner Foundation Allegro Ensemble will join thirteen current student groups organized by the DSO’s Wu Family Academy through its Civic Youth Ensembles (CYE) program. The DSO will offer this new opportunity completely free of charge to students, including an instrument and all materials, and will commit to providing scholarships throughout their participation in Civic Youth Ensembles. Unlike the DSO’s other CYE ensembles, this is an entry-level opportunity and no prior musical experience will be necessary.
CYE gives students opportunities to receive instrumental performance instruction and play in an ensemble setting, as well as provides access to DSO musicians for teaching and mentoring. This season, nearly 1,000 students are participating in CYE ensembles provided by the DSO.
To increase access to instrumental performance instruction for students in Detroit who would not otherwise have a pathway to pursue music education, the DSO will implement a more intense recruitment effort for the Dresner Foundation Allegro Ensemble and host auditions at local schools to attract a broader range of participants. This group will operate as an afterschool program in Detroit, and—through a partnership with a community organization—instruction will take place in a selected Detroit neighborhood rather than at the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, further lowering barriers to entry.
In addition to the new ensemble, the Dresner Foundation’s grant will enable the DSO to expand the reach of its long-running Educational Concert Series (ECS), as well as the webcasts of these performances to schools through Live from Orchestra Hall: Classroom Edition.
For more than 80 years, ECS has introduced children of Southeast Michigan to classical music. These concerts for K-8 students are highly curated orchestral performances that inspire learning, generate participation in the arts, and align with standardized benchmarks for music education. In recent seasons, the DSO has impacted nearly 100,000 students annually through ECS concerts, either in person or online, with an in-person audience consisting of 58 percent Title I schools. Through previous support from Penny and Harold Blumenstein, the DSO offered a special $1 ticket price for Detroit school children beginning last season, considerably increasing audiences from Detroit schools. But more needs to be done, and the generosity of the Dresner Foundation will enable even more underserved schoolchildren to attend concerts at Orchestra Hall.
About the Dresner Foundation
The Dresner Foundation is dedicated to transforming lives in proudly positive ways through grants focused on health, youth and family, and animal welfare. The Foundation provides resources to organizations in these focus areas to create opportunity, have community impact, and promote wellbeing.
About the DSO
Hailed by The New York Times as “cutting edge,” the internationally acclaimed Detroit Symphony Orchestra is known for trailblazing performances, visionary maestros, collaborations with the world’s foremost musical artists, and an ardent commitment to Detroit. As a community-supported orchestra, generous giving by individuals and institutions at all levels drives the continued success and growth of the institution. Esteemed conductor Leonard Slatkin, called “America’s Music Director” by the Los Angeles Times, became the DSO’s 12th Music Director, endowed by the Kresge Foundation, in 2008. Acclaimed conductor, arranger, and trumpeter Jeff Tyzik serves as Principal Pops Conductor, while celebrated trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard holds the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Jazz Creative Director Chair. With growing attendance and unwavering philanthropic support from the Detroit community, the DSO’s performance schedule includes Classical, Pops, Jazz, Young People’s, and Neighborhood concerts, and collaborations with high profile artists from Steven Spielberg to Ben Folds and Lang Lang. The DSO recently announced its 2017 Asia Tour, the orchestra’s first-ever tour of China and their first of Japan in 19 years. A commitment to broadcast innovation began in 1922, when the DSO became the first orchestra in the world to present a radio broadcast, and continues today with the free Live from Orchestra Hall webcast series, which also reaches tens of thousands of children with the Classroom Edition expansion. Making its home at historic Orchestra Hall within the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, one of America’s most acoustically perfect concert halls, the DSO actively pursues a mission to embrace and inspire individuals, families, and communities through unsurpassed musical experiences.