By Natalie Townsend
Published in The Williamson County Sun on July 20, 2014
It may not be the rock, pop, rap or electronic music that many kids listen to today, but fourth and fifth graders love the Georgetown Symphony Society’s Musical Enrichment Program concerts all the same.
In April, the Georgetown Symphony Society received $7,500 from Seeds of Strength. The symphony society is using the money to pay for the popular Musical Enrichment Program, which twice annually brings various symphonies and orchestras to perform for kids at the Klett Performing Arts Center.
The symphony society buses in about 2,400 children from public and private schools in Georgetown, Florence and Jarrell to acquaint them with classical music.
Without the society’s help, some schools could not afford to send their kids to the Musical Enrichment Programs, according to Alexia Griffin, president of the Georgetown Symphony Society. That convinced the organization to start the Bus Buddies Program, which uses donated funds to arrange transportation.
Additionally, the symphony society enlists talented artists for the enrichment concerts, including for the past four years finalists and medalists in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.
Paying for the performers and the buses are the organization’s biggest costs. For a non-profit run primarily by volunteers, “Seeds of Strength really came along at a wonderful time for us,” said Liz Stewart, former president of the symphony society.
The organization considers the money well spent.
Through the enrichment program, students experience four concerts–two each in fourth and fifth grades–with different composers, instruments and music each time.
For about 98 percent of the students, the enrichment concerts are their first live music experiences, according to Ms. Stewart.
The symphony society hopes the programs encourage students to pursue orchestra in sixth grade.
“One thing that music teaches you is discipline,” Ms. Steward said.
“Also, music is mathematics. If you learn a half note, a quarter note, an eighth note, a 16th note and measures, how many beats to a measure–it’s mathematical, and we’ve found that kids are interested in that and they really benefit from it.”
The symphony society also hosts concerts for general audiences, bringing talented symphonies and individual performers to Georgetown every year.
With its many concerts and the Music Enrichment Program, the symphony society has integrated itself smoothly into the city’s unique culture. In the eyes of Joanne Harrah, the organization’s incoming president, there is always room for growth.
“In our 15th year, I think it’s time to involve a lot of people,” she said.
“Basically, that’s what Seeds of Strength has done. They have brought people from all walks of life and different organizations to make one big, significant difference in the community.
The symphony is an icon and cities are defined by their culture, so we think this is why the symphony has room for growth. It has a good base but we can always grow.”