(PRINCETON, NJ) -- During this pandemic year, Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) has pivoted its PSO BRAVO! education programs to offer a range of virtual opportunities to area teachers, students, young musicians, and the online community. Virtual school musician visits and online instrument demonstrations are geared to engage the younger set, while discussions of Bach and Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey (YOCJ) masterclasses are of value to older, student musicians.
The orchestra is planning on up to 50 “Meet a Musician” visits. Students have the opportunity to talk with an orchestra musician face-to-face online, gain a close-up look at the instrument(s), and listen to live music demonstrations. Over 20 schools are participating, including elementary schools in the Princeton, Hopewell, and South Brunswick school districts.
Johnson Park Elementary vocal arts teacher Erin Ketterer says of the program, “The Zoom BRAVO! visits have been absolutely amazing. Our students have been just as captivated as they were during our past live assemblies. These virtual visits have meant so much to me as a music educator, because I think it shows the resiliency and power of music and musicians.”
As a supplement to the school Zoom visits and an enrichment resource for home-school families and the broader community, the PSO is unveiling a new “Instruments of the Orchestra” section in the Education area of its website. The section features pages dedicated to specific instruments, complete with informative musician videos and audio playlists to hear how each instrument contributes to the rich sound of the orchestra.
Older student musicians can check out the PSO BRAVO! Bach’s Musical Offering Project, a four-episode exploration of Bach’s work complete with video introduction, also housed on the orchestra’s website. The PSO’s Assistant Conductor, Nell Flanders, serves as instructional guide and PSO musicians play Bach’s music.
Through PSO BRAVO!, Ms. Flanders and PSO musicians also work with students at the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey. Ms. Flanders leads classes on Bach and other topics, and PSO musicians are facilitating a series of YOCJ masterclasses on April 20 at 7:00pm. While the audition period is over, anyone can watch and learn for free. For information, visit yocj.org.
ABOUT PSO BRAVO! EDUCATION PROGRAMS
The Princeton Symphony Orchestra’s acclaimed PSO BRAVO! education programs reach more than 10,000 students each year. Meet the Orchestra! establishes PSO musicians in teaching partnerships at more than 30 public, private, and special-needs elementary schools throughout Central New Jersey, and stages full-orchestra performances for elementary school students each spring. At the middle school level, Listen Up! invites students to attend Classical Series concerts and create visual art in response to the music they hear. Advanced high school and college instrumentalists participate in public masterclasses with world-renowned artists. From kindergarten through college, PSO BRAVO! inspires the next generation of musicians and audiences
The Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) is a cultural centerpiece of the Princeton community and one of New Jersey’s finest music organizations, a position established through performances of beloved masterworks, innovative music by living composers, and an extensive network of educational programs offered to area students free of charge. Led by Edward T. Cone Music Director Rossen Milanov, the PSO presents orchestral, pops, and chamber music programs of the highest artistic quality, supported by lectures and related events that supplement the concert experience. Through PSO BRAVO!, the orchestra produces wide-reaching and impactful education programs in partnership with local schools and arts organizations that culminate in students attending a live orchestral performance. The PSO receives considerable support from the Princeton community and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, regularly garnering NJSCA’s highest honor. Recognition of engaging residencies and concerts has come from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the PSO’s commitment to new music has been acknowledged with an ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming and a Copland Fund Award. The only independent, professional orchestra to make its home in Princeton, the PSO performs at historic Richardson Auditorium on the campus of Princeton University.
PHOTOS: Alistair MacRae, PSO principal cello; Andy Cho, PSO principal clarinet; Basia Danilow, PSO concertmaster; and Lars Wendt, PSO trombone