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Symphony Day: Exposing Students to the Power and Magic of the Orchestra

Chelsea Sammons, QCSO Director of Education
Marc Zyla
Chelsea Sammons, QCSO Director of Education

In this episode, we have the pleasure of speaking with Chelsea Sammons, the Director of Education at the Quad City Symphony Orchestra (QCSO). Chelsea shares with us the exciting details about the QCSO's annual Symphony Day concert, a field trip for 4th and 5th graders from local public and private schools.

Symphony Day is an incredible opportunity for students to experience the magic of an orchestra concert and learn about different instruments. They even get the chance to study and perform pieces of music alongside the professional musicians of the QCSO. Teachers have been raving about the positive impact of exposing their students to a full professional orchestra.

This year's Symphony Day theme is "The Orchestra Rocks". Chelsea explains that students will delve into the concept of an orchestra rocking through dynamics, timbre, and even the inclusion of an electric guitar. Some pieces will showcase "power dynamics where rocking out is really sticking it to the man." It sounds like an incredibly fun and educational experience for all involved.

We also learn about the QCSO's partnership with Carnegie Hall for their "Link Up" program. Last year, the theme was "Orchestra Moves" focused on rhythm, and this year continues the series with the "Rocks" theme. While Carnegie Hall provides valuable resources, the QCSO puts their own spin on the concert, even inviting the Moline High School drumline to perform.

Chelsea's passion for the arts and education shines through as she shares her journey from being a student in the QCSO Youth Ensembles to now leading the program as the Director of Education. She has always been interested in arts administration and supporting arts programs behind the scenes, and she finds great fulfillment in her role.

We also get a glimpse into the QCSO's other education programs, including their private lesson program, which has grown to accommodate 200 students, with over 30% receiving financial assistance. This program provides accessible music instruction and opportunities for students, thanks to the dedication of 35 private instructors covering a variety of instruments.

On a more personal note, Chelsea enjoys exploring hobbies and the arts scene in the Quad Cities region with her husband Evan. She highly recommends a visit to downtown Geneseo, her hometown, where art studios, shops, and the Geneseo Brewing Company restaurant await.

Tune in to this episode to learn more about the QCSO's Symphony Day, their partnership with Carnegie Hall, and the fantastic education programs they offer to encourage music education and appreciation in their community.

Marc Zyla joined WVIK, Quad Cities NPR in May 2022 as the Director of Community Engagement. Prior to that Zyla had been the Director of Education and Community Engagement with the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, where he continues to perform as Principal Horn. Zyla believes that there is something for everyone in public radio and brings passion and creativity to his position as Director of Community Engagement.