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Youth Orchestra members participate in Project 440


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Project 440 (P440) is a national program that partners with youth orchestras around the country to provide young musicians with the building blocks to become musical ambassadors in their communities. With a focus on audience engagement, service and college-preparedness, P440’s impact spreads far beyond the concert hall.

This year, the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra (CSYO) Concert Orchestra (grades 7–12) will experience P440 for the first time. On March 12, teaching artists from the Philadelphia-based nonprofit will travel to Cincinnati and lead an eight-hour interactive camp, culminating in peer-critiqued performances by CSYO members. During the workshop, adult members of the CSO will engage in direct training with P440 staff, learning how to mentor their CSYO counterparts. The CSO artists will then work with the CSYO students, sharing their first-hand performance knowledge and workshopping the students’ selected pieces using P440 methods.

The magic really happens, however, once the day is over. In the weeks following the workshop, CSYO members will travel around the city to libraries, retirement communities, coffeehouses and other public gathering spaces to perform the music they workshopped.

Ensembles and Musician Training Coordinator Carol Dary Dunevant says she is “continually amazed and honored to work with students involved in the CSYO program. If we can harness their enthusiasm and give them the tools to channel that energy and passion, we will be able to see positive results within our community.” She appreciates that P440 focuses on making performances interactive. “P440 can help these young musicians learn how to communicate and share their passion with others in the community. Young musicians need tools to help them understand how to create performances that are interactive; not just with the musicians, but getting people to interact with each other, be part of a new community, share a sense of belonging, and feel the excitement and energy inside of the performers.”

Skills in collaboration, leadership, creativity, and fostering engagement are invaluable attributes in any career path. Instilling an early sense of importance through an exciting shared experience will bring to these young people values and skills they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

The CSO’s vision is to engage audiences and community better than any orchestra in the world. Dunevant asks, “Doesn’t it make sense to have our youth learn how to lead this vision?”

-Melissa Knueven