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NSO receives big gift for education

By Anne Midgette

The National Symphony Orchestra has just announced the receipt of a two-year, $550,000 gift earmarked for the areas of education and outreach. Irene Pollin, a psychotherapist, philanthropist, and long-standing board member of the NSO, will support the orchestra's Community Education programs, which send the orchestra and its members to various schools and youth centers throughout the region.

"I chose to support these particular programs," Mrs. Pollin said in a statement, "because of my own experience as a young child playing in the school orchestra. Music has been a major part of my life and I feel very strongly that young people should receive a wonderful exposure to music early in life."

The money, to be paid out over two years, will support programs like the orchestra's appearances at the Columbia Heights Educational Campus, where the NSO will perform at 2 pm today. Other performances this season will include appearances at the Ellington School, THEARC, and various in-school ensembles around the Washington region.

Education and outreach are becoming an increasingly vital part of the work of orchestras around the country, faced with the specter of declining audiences and younger audiences with ever less exposure to classical music. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has piloted a program bringing instrumental education to inner-city schoolchildren. Meanwhile, one issue at the heart of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's ongoing strike is the question of whether the orchestra's administration can contractually mandate players to do the kind of extra work involved in some of these outreach activities.

By Anne Midgette  | November 12, 2010; 11:31 AM ET
Categories:  Anne Midgette, Classical music  
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