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The Santa Barbara Symphony reports that its Music Education Center program continuum benefited more than 5,000 students during the 2014-15 school year. (Santa Barbara Symphony photo)

By Kelly Kapaun for the Santa Barbara Symphony | Published on 05.11.2015 3:27 p.m.

The Santa Barbara Symphony is harnessing centuries of classical music to develop local youth into 21st-century leaders.

The symphony’s education programs, now designated as the Santa Barbara Symphony Music Education Center, uses a sequential set of programs to take students from their first effort experimenting with an instrument through performing at a high level in its Youth Symphony. The symphony’s Music Education Center reached a record 5,046 students this school year.

“As we track the growing impact of the symphony’s service to local youth, we hope these accomplishments will inspire more people to support the Symphony, so we can reach even more families with this vital early and continuous access to the arts,” said David Pratt, who joined the Santa Barbara Symphony as its new executive director in March.

The 2014-15 school year highlights include:

» Largest ever Community Concert: Over 200 grade school aged music students invited to a “Classical Jam Session” onstage  with Santa Barbara Youth Symphony at La Cumbre Plaza.

» The symphony’s beloved Music Van traveled to 43 schools countywide, bringing what may be their very first experience with a musical instrument to over 2,200 students.

» 2,600 fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders and teachers from 40 schools experienced live classical music with the Symphony’s annual Concerts for Young People at the Granada. Concerts for Young People may also be a student’s first experience with live music.

» The String Workshop Program, offered in the Goleta Unified School District, ended the year with 86 students, a 20 to 30 percent higher retention rate than the national average for similar lesson programs.

» The Santa Barbara Youth Symphony grew to 78 musicians this school year.

» Each concert season, the Musical Mentors Program pairs the symphony’s guest artists to different community organizations to share their music and stories of their careers. Having the opportunity to interact with these individuals can be a life-changing experience for students of all ages.

Celebrating 62 years of great music, the Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra Association was founded on the belief that a special city deserves a special orchestra. The symphony has been lauded for its unique ability to deliver brilliant concerts, engage the community at large, and deliver powerful music education programs. The Symphony is integral to the cultural fabric of greater Santa Barbara — today, more than 25,000 people attend Symphony concerts and programs each year. Explore the symphony and its Music Education Center online by clicking here, and on Facebook and Twitter.

— Kelly Kapaun is a publicist representing the Santa Barbara Symphony.

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