Students from four area schools have been working all year to participate in "Link Up."
The "Link Up" program was developed by Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute. When the program was made available to districts outside of New York City in 2010, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Amherst Central School district were among the first in the country to take advantage of it. BPO Education Director Robin Parkinson and Smallwood Elementary School teacher Julie Furlong traveled to New York City to receive training in the program.
"Link Up" differs from a traditional BPO education concert in that it requires a full school year of preparation on the part of the students, learning to play the recorder parts and to sing along with the orchestra. The Weill Music Institute has a resident composer who develops vocal and recorder parts for standard orchestral repertoire and also writes original music for the program. The students attend the concert and perform from their seats, immersing them in the process of making music.
This week, the BPO will present the program for the third time to the third-, fourth- and fifth-graders of Smallwood and Windermere Elementary Schools. The orchestra will travel to Amherst Middle School for the program at 7 p.m. Thursday. Windermere teacher Mike McCartney will act as master of ceremonies, and the Amherst High School Varsity Singers and Sweet Sixteens will lead the vocals in the performance.
The third-, fourth- and fifth-graders at Tapestry Charter School and Charter School for Applied Technologies visited Kleinhans Music Hall at 1 p.m. today for their "Link Up" experience.
This is the second time these schools have participated in this program. Tapestry Charter School's participation was supported by a grant from the Cameron and Jane Baird Foundation. BPO Associate Conductor Stefan Sanders has visited all four participating schools in preparation for "Link Up," and will be leading the concert experience.
"From a conducting standpoint, 'Link Up' is a very gratifying program to offer schools," Sanders said. "Students get tremendous mental benefits from the process of making music, and it's great to be able to offer students this depth of experience."