Amount Requested: $10,000 for Free Noontime Concert Series and the Writer’s Ear
Mission: To offer exceptional chamber music performed by international caliber musicians at historic venues throughout Staunton in a way that is accessible to all. Concert programs are innovative and seek a balance between old and new music. To fulfill that mission we present over 30 concerts, lectures, and public events during the August festival. These include roughly 20 free events; all events are free to youth aged 18 and under.
Constituents Served: All persons are eligible for our services. Most events are free, and there are no restrictions on who may attend or participate in our events. The one exception is the Writer’s Ear Program, which is open to children in grades 3-8 in Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County. Total attendance: 5,700.
Program Overview: The Free Noontime Concert Series has become one of the signature cultural events of the summer, drawing daily standing-room-only audiences in excess of 240 people per concert. The Free Noontime Concert Series enters its 8th season this year. The ten concerts in this series are free of charge, open to all, and take place during the noon hour. They are held in accessible locations throughout downtown Staunton. The 12:00pm starting time is extremely appealing to the families and senior citizens who are the Festival’s target audience for these concerts. A one-hour long, family-friendly noon concert is the perfect venue for families to expose their young children to classical music.
As audiences have grown over the years, the number of children and young families attending these free events continues to rise each season. This has been enhanced in 2015 and 2016 by a partnership with Staunton Academy of Ballet (SAB). In 2015 SMF and SAB presented a staged version of The Carnival of the Animals for narrator, chamber ensemble, and ballet dancers. Twenty-five young dancers between ages 6-16 studied the work in an intensive camp prior to the performance. Over 490 people, including 80+ children, filled Trinity Church to enjoy the stunning performance. In 2016 we have commissioned one of our composers-in-residence to create a new work for the same performing forces.
Now in its 6th year, the Writer’s Ear is an innovative attempt to connect children, via their imaginations and creative writing, with great classical music. It is open to any child in grades 3-8 (or ages 8-14) who lives in Staunton, Waynesboro, or Augusta County; it is open to students in all education settings, including public, private, and homeschooled. The 2015 Writer’s Ear reached over 1,000 children, and we received 430 submissions to the creative writing contest. Students are invited to pick one of five pieces of music and write a poem or short story inspired by the music, sharing their imaginative creations rather than writing an analysis or essay. The submissions are judged by volunteers from the community, and prizes are awarded to roughly 10-15 winners. Students are also invited to read their submissions in conjunction with a free live performance of all five works, held in April 2016. Some of the music and Writer’s Ear submissions will also be presented during the Free Noontime Concert Series in August.
Current Operating Budget: $213,000
Program Budget: $53,100