BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — 2934 students from Battle Creek, Pennfield, and Lakeview attended the Battle Creek Symphony’s free annual school concerts, February 28 and March 1. Dozens of busses rolled in over the two days to drop the children off at the W.K. Auditorium for an abbreviated version of “Fantasia.” Artistic director for The Music Center and symphony conductor, Anne Harrigan, shares, “We shorten the concert a little so we can include an educational component and keep the program to an hour. Since we have all age groups, from kindergarten on up, we feel that is the perfect length for school children.”
Music Center executive director, Susan Balbaugh, says, “These school concerts are the single most important thing we do every year when it comes to mission impact. Most of these children have never experienced this kind of music and we know, from past experience, many will be moved to take up some form of music education as a result, whether through their school programs or other sources. We sincerely thank the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Miller Foundation, and other supporters who allow us to continue this important tradition. In fact, our very own Maestra Anne Harrigan took up violin and then conducting as the result of a concert just like this in her home town.”
It’s not only students who are affected by the concert. Harrigan adds, “One of the symphony players had tears in her eyes hearing this many children sing the “Star Spangled Banner” which launches each show. It’s really very moving.”
Balbaugh continues, “This show is a huge production. Getting that many kids into and out of the auditorium safely and within our time constraints takes a lot of manpower. 17 volunteers from our Board of Directors as well as other Music Center friends plus an army of teachers and chaperones all joined in to make this happen. Overall, this was one of our largest student concert attendances ever and it went quite smoothly.”
The Music Center, parent organization of the Battle Creek Symphony, provides musical listening, learning, and performance opportunities to people of all ages and skill levels. Established in 2000, The Music Center offers programs including I.M.P.A.C.T.: free after school classes, Sojourner Truth Choir, Ars Voce, Battle Creek Boychoir and Girls Chorus, Battle Creek Community Chorus, the Community Music School, and Michigan’s oldest continuously running orchestra, the Battle Creek Symphony Orchestra. For more information, please visit our website at www.YourMusicCenter.org.