Gift will enable DSO’s Wu Family Academy to launch a new entry-level, afterschool youth music program and increase access to its Educational Concert Series and Classroom Edition webcasts

Detroit – The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) has announced that it has received a generous grant from the Dresner Foundation to provide comprehensive music education for underserved youth in Detroit. The grant—$600,000 over two years—will enable the DSO’s Wu Family Academy to launch a new, free entry-level program to be named the Dresner Foundation Allegro Ensemble in addition to expanding the reach of its Educational Concert Series and Classroom Edition webcasts.

“Education is central to the mission of the DSO, and we continuously strive to increase our impact,” said DSO President and CEO Anne Parsons. “Our Wu Family Academy programs provide services to more than 100,000 students throughout Southeast Michigan each season. Through concerts and training programs, we seek to aid students in developing critical and analytical skills, facilitate teamwork, and encourage social success. Thanks to the generosity of the Dresner Foundation, we are thrilled to be able to expand our offerings to meet the growing needs of our community.”

“This is an incredible opportunity for a significant number of Detroit youth to begin their musical journey. The Dresner Foundation is pleased to support the DSO’s music education programs,” said Virginia Romano, Managing Director of the Dresner Foundation.

Launching this fall, the new Dresner Foundation Allegro Ensemble will join thirteen current student groups organized by the DSO’s Wu Family Academy through its Civic Youth Ensembles (CYE) program. The DSO will offer this new opportunity completely free of charge to students, including an instrument and all materials, and will commit to providing scholarships throughout their participation in Civic Youth Ensembles. Unlike the DSO’s other CYE ensembles, this is an entry-level opportunity and no prior musical experience will be necessary.

CYE gives students opportunities to receive instrumental performance instruction and play in an ensemble setting, as well as provides access to DSO musicians for teaching and mentoring. This season, nearly 1,000 students are participating in CYE ensembles provided by the DSO.

To increase access to instrumental performance instruction for students in Detroit who would not otherwise have a pathway to pursue music education, the DSO will implement a more intense recruitment effort for the Dresner Foundation Allegro Ensemble and host auditions at local schools to attract a broader range of participants. This group will operate as an afterschool program in Detroit, and—through a partnership with a community organization—instruction will take place in a selected Detroit neighborhood rather than at the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, further lowering barriers to entry.

In addition to the new ensemble, the Dresner Foundation’s grant will enable the DSO to expand the reach of its long-running Educational Concert Series (ECS), as well as the webcasts of these performances to schools through Live from Orchestra Hall: Classroom Edition.

For more than 80 years, ECS has introduced children of Southeast Michigan to classical music. These concerts for K-8 students are highly curated orchestral performances that inspire learning, generate participation in the arts, and align with standardized benchmarks for music education. In recent seasons, the DSO has impacted nearly 100,000 students annually through ECS concerts, either in person or online, with an in-person audience consisting of 58 percent Title I schools. Through previous support from Penny and Harold Blumenstein, the DSO offered a special $1 ticket price for Detroit school children beginning last season, considerably increasing audiences from Detroit schools. But more needs to be done, and the generosity of the Dresner Foundation will enable even more underserved schoolchildren to attend concerts at Orchestra Hall.


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