On Wednesday, March 15, at 1:00 p.m. in the Helena Civic Center, the Helena Symphony Orchestra will perform its annual youth concert for over 1,800 fourth and fifth grade students from twenty elementary schools coming from over ten school districts and nine cities. In addition to the eleven elementary schools from the Helena School District, students from St. Andrew School, Radley Elementary School in East Helena, Avon, Boulder, Canyon Creek, Montana City, Clancy, Townsend, and the Helena Area Christian Home Educators and Helena Christian School will be attending this concert for fourth and fifth graders.

In addition to the generous support from all the attending schools, the Symphony is grateful for the generous support from the Helena School District, the Helena Music Teachers Association, Rocky Mountain Credit Union, Helena Community Credit Union, and Vocal Credit Union. “For many students, this will be their first opportunity to experience a live performance of classical music,” explains Director of Patron Services Scott Kall.

Students attending will experience the orchestra through a newly created program written by Education Coordinator Barbara Berg. Titled Rhapsody in Red, White, and Blue, the concert features Uncle Sam who takes us back in time to visit renowned composers Aaron Copland, George Gershwin, and Samuel Barber as children. “This concert not only features these incredibly important American icons, but it also shows the students what they can achieve.”

In addition to the actors, the concert includes several dancers, and Pianist Steve Olson performing Gershwin’s popular Rhapsody in Blue. “This is perhaps the largest program the Helena Symphony has ever produced for fourth and fifth graders,” explains Music Director Allan R. Scott. “From actors, dancers, piano soloists, costumes, lighting, several video presentations, including a portion of Fantasia 2000 accompanied by the HSO, this will wonderfully educational, fun, and entertaining. And a fantastic way to be introduced to American music.”

The annual Youth Concert is completely focused on the music education of over 1,800 fourth and fifth graders from several school districts, including school districts in rural communities with hundreds of underprivileged children. “The focus of this project serves not only the music education of the students in several communities, but the project provides the much-needed life lessons through the arts, self-expression, and how arts and education are intrinsically linked,” explains Jefferson Elementary School Principal Lona Carter-Scanlon, who also assists with the Symphony’s outreach efforts.

“The programs are designed specifically for the music education of fourth and fifth graders,” explains Barb Berg. “The Youth Concert also seeks to make a lasting impact on the fourth and fifth grade students before they enter middle school where they hopefully will participate in orchestra, band, or chorus, and in many ways, this concert is one of the last experiences the fourth and fifth graders will have before deciding to take up an instrument.”

“The evidence is clear,” explains Maestro Scott, “in that a child who plays an instrument is not merely a well-rounded individual, but a person that learns self-confidence, self-expression, and embraces a value system which understands the importance of music and the arts as they progress through life. With the help of so many generous organizations, schools, and individuals, the Helena Symphony can ensure we continue to help raise the children in our community. This is so much more than a concert.”

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