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Plano Symphony seeking donations for elementary concerts
By Bill Conrad, email@example.com, @Bill_PlanoStar on Twitter
Each spring the Plano Symphony Orchestra performs for about 10,000 area fourth-grade students as part of its Symphony Sampler Concert. In addition to the performance, students also learn about the symphony prior to the show and receive a visit to their classroom by a member of the PSO.
In previous years, the program was largely funded by school districts. However, much of that money dried up two years ago when the state Legislature cut more than $5 billion from public education funding. As a result, the symphony has launched its Send Me to the Symphony campaign in hopes that donors will come forward to subsidize the cost.
"We estimate the program costs $10 per child," said Debbie Watson, PSO executive director. "When the program was cut we began the campaign so we didn't have to turn anyone away. Some PTAs have provided funding, but if the schools cannot make it happen on their own we try and secure community support."
Maestro Hector Guzman, PSO music director, said the program has touched many students' lives over its 25-plus years.
"This is important because it allows the young students to learn about good music at an early age," Guzman said. "The experience is a combination of good music and a good theme. The curriculum is given to the teachers months in advance so the kids come to the concert very well prepared. They sometimes know the music better than we do."
The performance features music students may be familiar with, such as theme songs from movies such as "Superman" and "Harry Potter." The goal is to showcase the entire realm of symphonic music, he said.
Guzman said he feels Plano ISD, which is one of the participating districts, has many successful middle and high school orchestras in part due to the symphony program, since it instills a sense of what classical music is at an early age.
"Most of the students are being exposed to symphonic music at the first time at these concerts," Guzman said. "That is why it is very important to do these programs at such a high level. What we want to create in them is a sense of awe where they are like, "Oh my, I never thought that symphonic music could be this much fun.'"
Forty-three of the 44 Plano elementary schools are participating this year, said Angela Miner, past president of the Plano ISD Council of PTAs. Miner said she has seen what the program means to students, and that is why PTAs have stepped up to fund the program when financially possible.
"The partnership between the Plano Symphony and Plano ISD has benefitted many students over the years," Miner said in a release. "We are hopeful that we can maintain this special connection on behalf of our students who enjoy the experience at the symphony."
How to help
Donations are being accepted online at planosymphony.org. They may also be mailed to Plano Symphony Orchestra, 5236 Tennyson Parkway, Suite 200, Plano, TX 75024. For information, call the PSO at 972-473-7262 or email PSO Education Director Teri Janssen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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