Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation Expands In-School Music Education Partnership with DSO

- Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation Allegro Ensemble, an in-school cohort of young violin students, will expand to three DPSCD schools and triple reach by 2020-2021 school year

- Gift also supports DSO’s Civic Youth Ensembles, Educational Concert Series, and free live webcasts

Detroit, (October 1, 2019) – The Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation and Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) today announced an expansion of their collaboration that aims to increase access to music education in underserved communities throughout Southeast Michigan.

The two organizations formed a partnership in 2017 with the Foundation’s first grant benefiting the DSO and the establishment of the Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation Allegro Ensemble.

The Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation Allegro Ensemble is an entry-level in-school violin training program for young musicians based at Duke Ellington Conservatory at Beckham Academy, a Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) school on Detroit’s east side. The program is tuition-free, and instruments are provided at no cost. Students who graduate the program and wish to continue studying as part of the DSO’s Civic Youth Ensembles (CYE) can keep their instruments and participate tuition-free.

The Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation’s new pledge totals $825,000 over two and a half years. The gift will:

  • Continue to support the Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation Allegro Ensemble and expand the program to three Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) schools with limited music education programs by the 2020-2021 school year. The DSO and the Foundation also hope to offer additional instruments besides the violin.
  • Support the Wu Family Academy of Learning and Engagement, specifically the entry-level Pizzicato and Arco training groups that are two of the DSO’s many Civic Youth Ensembles. Hundreds of students—of all ages and skill levels—participate in CYE programs annually, which include the Detroit Symphony Youth Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble, Civic Jazz Orchestra, and many more.
  • Support the DSO’s Educational Concert Series (ECS) and Live from Orchestra Hall: Classroom Edition webcast series counterpart. Classroom Edition delivers free, live, high-definition webcasts of ECS performances to classrooms worldwide, reaching more than 85,000 students; the DSO also provides curriculum guides, professional development sessions, and additional learning materials to teachers to complement the webcasts.

“The DSO’s accessible, inclusive programming aligns with the Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation’s commitment to providing meaningful opportunity for under-resourced communities,” said Virginia Romano, Chief Executive Officer of the Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation. “That is one of many reasons why we are pleased to partner with the DSO to continue supporting the Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation Allegro Ensemble as it reaches deeper into Detroit neighborhoods, providing additional opportunities for students to receive world-class music education instruction in their own school.”

“As the DSO continues to prioritize its community and engagement programs across our region, we remain exceptionally grateful for the extraordinary commitment and leadership from the Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation,” said Anne Parsons, DSO President and CEO. “It has been truly inspiring to witness the launch and development of the Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation Allegro Ensemble at the Duke Ellington Conservatory, and we are thrilled to be able to expand this partnership to two additional DPSCD schools by next year. We know that the study and practice of music are essential components of successful social and educational development, and thanks to partnerships like this, more Detroit students will be guaranteed to have access to experiencing creativity through music.”

The DSO’s longstanding commitment to education and the community was formalized in 2017 with the launch of the Social Progress Initiative (SPI), an ongoing assessment of its impact through programs that serve hundreds of thousands of people each year across greater Detroit. SPI helps the DSO prioritize resources, incorporate fresh thinking into existing programs, and create new programs to serve critical needs of the community.

About the Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation

The Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation is dedicated to transforming lives in profoundly positive ways through grants focused on health, youth, family, and animal welfare. At the Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation, we believe in working with organizations in our focus areas to create opportunity, have community impact, and promote well-being. For more information, visit

About the Civic Youth Ensembles (CYE)

The DSO’s Civic Youth Ensembles (CYE) comprise several musical training groups for students of all ages and skill levels. CYE cultivates students’ artistic and creative potential through rewarding musical experiences and develops skills useful outside the arts. Hundreds of students participate in CYE programs annually.

CYE consists of two full orchestras, four string orchestras, three wind ensembles, three jazz ensembles, and one choir, as well as several chamber ensembles and jazz combos. The Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation Allegro Ensemble, inaugurated in 2017, marks CYE’s first entry into students’ classrooms at their own schools; also in 2017, CYE expanded to include the Detroit Pistons Bucket Band in partnership with Spain Elementary-Middle School.

CYE was founded in 1970 and is a program of the DSO’s Wu Family Academy of Learning and Engagement (WFA).

About the DSO

The most accessible orchestra on the planet, the acclaimed Detroit Symphony Orchestra is known for trailblazing performances, collaborations with the world’s foremost musical artists, and a deep connection to its city. As a community-supported orchestra, generous giving by individuals and institutions at all levels drives the continued success and growth of the institution. Conductor Leonard Slatkin, who recently concluded an acclaimed decade-long tenure at the helm, now serves as the DSO’s Music Director Laureate, endowed by the Kresge Foundation. Celebrated conductor, arranger, and trumpeter Jeff Tyzik is the orchestra’s Principal Pops Conductor, while the outstanding trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard holds the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Jazz Creative Director Chair. Making its home at historic Orchestra Hall within the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, the DSO offers a performance schedule that features Classical, PNC Pops, Paradise Jazz, and Young People’s Family Concert series. One of America’s most acoustically perfect concert halls, Orchestra Hall celebrates its centennial in 2019-2020. In addition, the DSO presents the William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series in seven metro area venues, as well as a robust schedule of eclectic multi-genre performances in its mid-size venue The Cube, constructed and curated with support from Peter D. & Julie F. Cummings. A dedication 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. With growing attendance and unwavering philanthropic support from the people of Detroit, the DSO actively pursues a mission to embrace and inspire individuals, families, and communities through unsurpassed musical experiences.