Music in the Mountains’ Prelude for Yuba Salmon: Where art and science collide

Music in the Mountains is one of just 23 American orchestras selected by the League of American Orchestras to receive a 2013-14 Getty Education and Community Investment Grant. The grant was awarded to Music in the Mountains for its new project, Prelude to Yuba Salmon, and is recognition of MIM’s innovation and dedication to increasing its relevance to the community.

Prelude for Yuba Salmon is a collaborative adventure in musicianship, composing, and environmental stewardship. MIM’s Young Composers Project will team with educators at Sierra Streams Institute (SSI) and be taken through a curriculum focused on the plight of the salmon and their importance to the health of the region’s watersheds.

The curriculum will include both lab and field work. Students will then create a piece of music that responds to their experience. The project will culminate in a composition to be premiered by the MIM Festival Orchestra during the 2014 SummerFest. The experience, inspiration and process will be captured in a 20-minute documentary film, where the music created will also serve as the score for the film, and will be submitted to the 2015 SYRCL Wild and Scenic Film Festival.

“The Prelude project underscores the capacity for classical music to be directly responsive to contemporary social issues by creating a nexus of music, environment, and learning,” stated Cristine Kelly, MIM’s executive director “The goal is to educate both participants and audiences about the importance of community and environment, using music and film to tell the story.”

“The long term health of orchestras will require creating more value for more members of orchestras’ communities. These important programs are addressing critical needs, often in underserved communities,” said League President and CEO Jesse Rosen. “The Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation’s support has enabled orchestras to offer their communities greater access to the extraordinary experience of orchestral music and musicians.”

The orchestras, encompassing a full range of budget sizes, will receive individual grants ranging from $10,000 to $30,000 for a variety of community-based programs taking place during the 2013-14 season. Music in the Mountains received a grant in the amount of $15,000.

A total of $443,000 was awarded for the grants this year. About 65 percent of the grants were awarded to in-school or after school educational programs, 17 percent to health and wellness programs, 9 percent to life-long learning opportunities, and 9 percent to those serving other populations, including juveniles and adults in the criminal justice system. A prerequisite for qualifying orchestras was the existence of partnerships with local community or social service organizations.

The recipients for 2013-14 are: Allentown Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Central Ohio Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, El Paso Symphony Orchestra, Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Kidznotes, Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Music in the Mountains, New York Philharmonic, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Pacific Symphony, Portland Symphony Orchestra, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory, San Francisco Symphony, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras, Stockton Symphony, and Yakima Symphony Orchestra.

“We are delighted to be able to offer our salmon education program to the students in the Young Composers Project,” said Joanne Hild, Sierra Streams executive director. “This project is a perfect example of the kind of creative partnership that allows us to take more young people out into the creek, to learn about our natural wonders.”

This year’s grants, part of the League’s three-year, $1.5 million re-granting program made possible by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, will fund both new and established innovative programs including: long-term in-school partnerships and afterschool programs; life-long learning opportunities; health and wellness initiatives in hospitals; and programs for the underserved and underprivileged, including adults and adolescents in the criminal justice system and the special needs population.

The initial 144 applicants were narrowed by an independent advisory panel of experts to 48 semi-finalists; all were then judged on six criteria: the degree of innovation and relevance to community needs; the orchestra’s capacity to deliver; appropriateness to orchestra’s community; appropriateness and strength of partnership(s); extent and quality of professional development for musicians and staff; and ability to assess and evaluate outcomes.

The League of American Orchestras leads, supports, and champions America’s orchestras and the vitality of the music they perform. Its diverse membership of approximately 800 orchestras across North America runs the gamut from world-renowned symphonies to community orchestras, from summer festivals to student and youth ensembles.

The only national organization dedicated solely to the orchestral experience, the League is a nexus of knowledge and innovation, advocacy, and leadership advancement for managers, musicians, volunteers, and boards. Its conferences and events, award-winning Symphony magazine, website, and other publications inform music lovers around the world about orchestral activity and developments.

Founded in 1942 and chartered by Congress in 1962, the League links a national network of thousands of instrumentalists, conductors, managers and administrators, board members, volunteers, and business partners.

—Music in the Mountains

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