Every year, the Department of Music organizes an outreach program titled “Orchestra to Orchestra” which allows high school student musicians to attend Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra concerts.
Regular admission tickets for performances at the Staller Center cost $20, with special discounts for students and senior citizens. High school students attending the “Orchestra to Orchestra” program, however, pay no admittance fee.
The program is designed like a field trip. The Barbara Wien Endowment for Art Education funds the program and covers the trip from the high school and back. The first concert this year was on Oct.1.
Michael Hershkowitz, the music department’s director of concerts and community music programs, gives a lecture before each show.
“Our goal is to inspire students to keep going with their music careers once they’re in college, by showing them what’s possible, and what they could themselves achieve someday,” Hershkowitz said. “We have got to make music accessible to younger and different audiences. Classical music struggles to find new audiences. This is why we’re tearing down the barriers.”
The program commenced in 2011, with a goal to inspire more amateur musicians to pursue their musical interests. The music department hopes that by watching skilled college students perform, high school students can envision themselves on the same stage in the near future.
“It started with high school teachers asking me do it,” Paul Newland, the Staller Center outreach director, said. “I know the orchestra influences high school students, and I thought it would be great to show high school students professional orchestras, in order to show them where they could be in the future.”
The school’s symphony orchestra is comprised of talented graduate students currently pursuing degrees in the department of music.
“I have been coming here with my students for four years straight now, because I know Michael personally and I know what this program does for public schools,” Nancy Caine, a former Stony Brook graduate student and the director of orchestra at Southampton Schools, said. “The quality performance really motivates students to pursue their dreams in the orchestra after high school.”
The program also has plans to expand in the near future.
“Paul and I want to expand the program, so we’re opening up our Friday rehearsals to Bellport students,” Hershkowitz said. “Graduate students sit down with them and have lunch here.”
More concerts will take place on Dec. 3, Feb. 19 and March 15, all on Saturdays at 8 p.m. at the Staller Center.