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Arts & Culture

School of Music, The Clarice Launch Partnership With BSO to Expand Community Engagement

Initiative to Include Performances, New Music, New Programs Focused on Prince George’s County

By College of Arts and Humanities Staff

orchestra performance

Marin Alsop, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra music director laureate and National Orchestral Institute+Festival music director, conducts the festival’s closing performance at The Clarice last summer. The School of Music, BSO and The Clarice have launched a new partnership focused on engaging communities across the state through orchestral music.

Photo by David Andrews

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) and the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center and School of Music have announced a groundbreaking partnership that marks a significant investment in the cultural and civic landscape of Prince George’s County and the future of orchestral performance.

The collaboration between three major cultural institutions will include community engagement programming, unique educational opportunities for students and the commissioning of new orchestral music, all with the goal of creating social and cultural change locally and throughout the state.

"This exciting new partnership will fund a range of innovative community engagement initiatives, all to be guided by listening, connecting and empowering creativity," said Maryland first lady Dawn Moore. "The investment that these institutions will make through music and community programming will have lasting and meaningful impact for Marylanders.”

At the heart of this effort is Voices of Prince George’s County, a program that will invite community members to share their needs, challenges and hopes with Sound Impact, a collective of professional musicians serving communities. BSO musicians and UMD School of Music ensembles will create community-inspired commissions out of those conversations, to be performed at The Clarice and in libraries, detention centers, youth facilities and churches.

“Voices of Prince George’s County offers a tremendous opportunity for social impact in our community, and I am thrilled to celebrate this partnership,” said UMD President Darryll J. Pines. “It expands UMD’s campuswide Arts for All initiative, which demonstrates the community-building and the transformative power of the arts.”

All partners have records of meaningful and innovative community engagement initiatives: From the Music for Maryland Tour, which visits each Maryland jurisdiction over three summers, to programs for younger students like OrchKids and Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestra, the BSO remains dedicated to music education, equity and inclusion. The Clarice is home to the National Orchestral Institute+Festival (NOI+F), a laboratory for young orchestral musicians who connect with the community through partnerships, performances and initiatives that empower historically excluded voices in classical music. And the School of Music hosts numerous programs centered on advocacy and entrepreneurship.

“As the largest arts organization in Maryland, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra remains committed to sharing the magic of music with more people, more often,” said BSO President and CEO Mark Hanson. “This partnership allows us to continue inspiring audiences of all ages through a wide variety of symphonic experiences throughout the state of Maryland and beyond.”

The partnership will also provide UMD students with the chance to train with some of the nation’s best professional musicians. BSO musicians will teach master classes and orchestra sectionals, perform in annual side-by-side rehearsals and host students at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall for open rehearsals.

“Our School of Music students will gain so much through this partnership. It gives them incredible opportunities to expand their musical education through performances, master classes and community engagement," said Gregory Miller, director of the School of Music.

Additionally, renowned conductors Jonathon Heyward, the BSO’s incoming music director, and Marin Alsop, BSO music director laureate and NOI+F music director, will lead conducting master classes for School of Music students.

“We believe the performing arts are for everyone and that culture can serve as a vital catalyst for positive social change. This partnership, we hope, will ignite a new kind of musical dialogue with our on and off-campus communities that will lead to meaningful contributions to the cultural and civic life of Prince George’s County and UMD,” said Terry Dwyer, executive director of The Clarice.

The Clarice, the BSO and the School of Music are also co-commissioning a work that will have its world premiere in the second year of the partnership. As a part of the BSO’s initiative to make symphonic music and orchestral performances more accessible, this partnership provides yet another opportunity to connect audiences to the music by way of education.

Audiences will get a taste of what the future holds during three concerts slated for November 2023, February 2024 and March 2024, and are on sale now. In the series kickoff, Heyward will share insight about the repertoire from the stage in a conversation moderated by ethnomusicologist and UMD College of Arts and Humanities Dean Stephanie Shonekan. The two following concerts, led by Alsop and a second by Heyward, will also feature a unique and collaborative format.

“Connecting with emerging talent and rising musicians is a key component to my tenure with the BSO,” said Heyward. “I feel very fortunate to be able to foster partnerships that align so beautifully with my artistic values. It is a wonderful opportunity to sincerely connect with the next generation of visionary artists and musicians while making this art form that we all love approachable and accessible.”

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