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Utah Symphony Holds Free Concert At Fremont High

PLAIN CITY, Utah – More than 76,000 Utah public school students watched a Utah Symphony concert in the last school year. That’s 40 percent of our schools.

This week the orchestra underlined that commitment that began in 1975, with a school concert at Fremont High School in Plain City.

As the Utah Symphony opens its 78th season, the orchestra went “back to school,” performing for students in Northern Utah.

Music director Thierry Fischer called it an important symbol.

“For me to show our organization and the kids, that the first time of the season that I’m moving my arm, it’s for the kids, who are going to be the leaders of tomorrow. It’s a symbol,” Fischer said. “But I believe in symbols. And to be in a school outside of Ogden … seeing what’s the daily life of the people, who are going to continue to build this wonderful state. It’s very important to me that I give something also to this education vision of our organization.”

Hundreds of Weber County fifth graders filled the auditorium.

One-third of all Utah Symphony concerts are for children, said CEO Paul Meecham.

“There’s the wonderful thrill of hearing an orchestra live but actually having some preparation in the classroom ahead of time,” Meecham said. “They’ll get more out of it. And it’s tied to the curriculum, so we make sure we’re very much in line with what the teachers need and what the state requirements are and that the children get as much out of it as possible.”

The Utah Symphony’s commitment to arts education began 43 years ago with Maestro Maurice Abravanel and Rep. Haven Barlow who worked with the community and legislators to secure funding.

Paula Fowler, Utah Symphony Education Outreach Director, said the symphony keeps a vision for this POPS program.

“It’s Professional Outreach Program in the Schools,” she said. “It’s matching funds through the legislature that’s managed by the State Board of Education. Our goal is to get to every school district in the state every three years. And the schools say, ‘free, professional arts in our school? When is the available date?'”

What the students see and hear can leave a lasting impression.

Hunter Jex is president of the Fremont High School Orchestra.

“Every time they come out here, they just have these creative ways of teaching music to younger students and I feel like that kind of filters into Fremont,” he said. “As they (the younger students) see that they are more excited about our orchestra and our band programs.”

Last year, orchestra members worked with some of the students.

“They were nothing but kind and supportive,” he said.

Landyn Hinojosa plays the violin in the orchestra.

“It’s super inspiring because that’s what I want to do as a career, to play in a symphony like that,” she said. “So, it’s cool to see them and see how good they are and how dedicated they are.”

“Music education matters” has been the Utah Symphony’s motto and managers and players agree that it crescendos into the future.

Here are the main points of the Symphony’s education outreach:

  • Across initiatives starting with our Education Outreach program, which makes up a third of the orchestra’s performances each year, we make it a priority to reach each school district in the state on a 3-5 year rotation.
  • What that translates to is 40 percent of public schools last year (457 schools out of 1,113 total public schools) were served by Utah Symphony (**schools will consolidate in larger auditoriums for a single concert, or at the 5th grade concerts at Abravanel Hall, so that’s how we reach so many schools simultaneously).
  • Utah Opera has similar figures: 35 percent of public schools last year (393 schools out of 1,113 total public schools) reached by Utah Opera education outreach.
  • Why is music education important? A 2015 study by the National Association for Music Education found graduation and attendance rates increased for schools with music education.
  • Schools with music programs have an estimated 90 percent graduation rate (17 percent higher) and 94 percent attendance rate (9 percent higher) compared to schools without music education.
  • Why is this important for Utah? A third of our total state population is children (31 percent), so the opportunity to impact and inspire youth through classical music and opera translates to greater life opportunities for them as they plan their futures, and an overall elevation of our state’s education levels.
  • Utah has the highest percentage of children under the age of 18 in the country at 31 percent of the total state population.
  • The performing arts also are ingrained in the fabric of our state’s identity. They figured prominently in the cultural landscape of the Mormon pioneers who made the treacherous trek across the Plains and mountains carrying pianos back in the 1860s.
  • A 2017 NEA study showing Utah tops the nation for arts consumption.
  • A three-year study found Utah rated No. 1 in the nation at a whopping 51 percent, heads and tails above the national average of 32 percent for performing arts attendance.

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