The Santa Maria Philharmonic Society has been presenting Children’s Concerts to thousands of fourth-graders in the Santa Maria Valley for many years. In 2015 and 2016, over 2,500 children each year were bused to a single location where the orchestra performed Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. The children were transfixed as each instrument was demonstrated for them by principal musicians of the orchestra. The orchestra then proceeded with the story told by a narrator, with each character of the story represented by an instrument of the orchestra. Also in 2015, the Philharmonic was the fortunate recipient of a grant to produce a youth-oriented version of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, with ballet dancers, for fifth-graders.
In 2018, the concert presentation for fourth-graders was refreshed with a new concert for youth developed by our Music Director, Maestro Michael Nowak, and collaborator Suzette Harbour, Fly Me to the Moon.” Over two days and four concerts, 2049 fourth graders from 17 different elementary schools were introduced to classical music performed by the Santa Maria Philharmonic’s professional orchestra. The Maestro had an easy rapport with the children, who were well-behaved and attentive. Hundreds of hands went up when asked if this was their first time hearing an orchestra concert. A surprisingly large number went up as well when asked if they played a musical instrument themselves. When the program began with Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings the powerful sound was accompanied by a visual display of pictures in space taken by the Hubble Telescope. Everyone present seemed spell-bound. All the instruments of the orchestra had a moment to shine in an arrangement of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” And the program just got better from there with Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony being played as images of birds and butterflies and other flying things were shown on the large video screens. The whole experience renews the enriching sense that there is truly beauty in the world around us and that we are all better for it.
“Santa Maria fourth-graders bask in the sound of ‘Flight’ at new children’s concert” Santa Maria Times January 24 2018
“We are honored to provide funds that contribute to four live orchestral performances for fourth graders in North Santa Barbara County. Approximately 2,500 students have attended the youth performances in the past, many of whom continue their music education by auditioning for the Philharmonic’s youth showcase or joining area junior high and high school music programs.”
-Women’s Fund of Northern Santa Barbara County
“Comments from teachers coming out of the performance [of “Fly Me to the Moon”] have been phenomenal. The conductor asks questions and kids stay engaged through the performance. They’re really enjoying themselves this year.”
– Janet Hillson, General Manager of the Santa Maria Philharmonic