News & Blog

Category: Education

Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra Notes in Your Neighborhood

With Jones High School

jones logo

This spring, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra is excited to announce the expansion of its Notes in Your Neighborhood outreach program with new partner school, Jones High School.

Notes in Your Neighborhood, currently in its sixth year, is an after-school outreach program providing musical mentorship to Title 1 students. The newly formed partnership with Jones High School marks a significant expansion to the program, previously offered only to elementary students. As part of this new partnership, Orlando Philharmonic musicians will provide after-school mentoring and instruction to orchestra and band students at Jones High School. The partnership will culminate in a final performance at Jones High School for parents and community members on Tuesday, April 25th, as well as feeder elementary and middle school students.

“We are so excited to begin this partnership with Jones High School, who has a long-standing culture of musical excellence in Central Florida,” says Dr. Leia Barrett, Director of Education for the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. “We look forward to helping Jones High School inspire and grow young musicians over many years to come!”

Musicians will take part in after-school rehearsals, providing musical insight, performance techniques, and mentorship. Initial funding for the program expansion was provided by the City of Orlando Mayor’s Matching Grant program, the first program to fund Notes in Your Neighborhood. Further funding is being sought by the Jones High School Foundation to provide after-school support year-round.

To learn more about Notes in Your Neighborhood, contact Director of Education Dr. Leia Barrett. To learn more about the Jones High School Foundation, visit

Orlando Philharmonic Announces Finalists in its Second Annual High School Orchestra of Distinction Program


2015-2016 Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra High School Orchestra of Distinction winner, Winter Park High School, receiving its award at the Orlando Philharmonic’s final Classics Concert at the Bob Carr Theater on March 26, 2016.

December 1, 2016– The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra announced five finalists for its second annual High School Orchestra of Distinction program, whose purpose is to provide recognition, encouragement, and support to outstanding and promising high school orchestras in Central Florida. Participants completed a rigorous screening process, being asked to provide information on their past performance assessments, connection to elementary and middle “feeder” schools, parental involvement, and more. Schools getting past the written application stage were asked to submit anonymous, unedited audition tapes that were then assessed by professional musicians, community leaders, and orchestral experts.

The 2016-2017 finalists are (in alphabetical order)

Dr. Phillips High School (Raine Allen, director)

Freedom High School (Brian Hellhake and Suzanne Vascik, directors)

Olympia High School (Brandon Bangle, director)

Timber Creek High School (Staci Conkling, director)

Trinity Preparatory School (Maureen May, director)

“The Orlando Philharmonic is proud to support our local high school orchestras,” says Dr. Leia Barrett, Director of Education. “The hard work and determination seen on a daily basis by these schools is extraordinary.”

For the final adjudication round, judges will attend each school’s holiday concert, adjudicating schools on both professionalism and performance. Two schools will be chosen as award winners and named the High School Orchestra of Distinction and the High School Orchestra in the Wings. Both awardees will be recognized onstage by the Orlando Philharmonic at its final Classics concert, Mahler 2: Resurrection on Saturday, April 8th at the Bob Carr Theater. These two schools will also qualify for a partnership with the Orlando Philharmonic the following season that offers special student opportunities.

For more information about this program and to learn about the 2015-2016 finalists and awardees, visit or email Director of Education Dr. Leia Barrett at Education at to learn more.

Fall 2016 Young People’s Concerts



The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2016 Young People’s Concert (YPCs), Once Upon a Symphony will reach more than 60,000 students, including Orange County Public School (OCPS) students in grades 3-5 and fifth grade students at School District of Osceola. The YPCs feature a full symphony orchestra with dancers from the Orlando Ballet, local opera singer Sean Stork, and Orlando Repertory Theater actor narrators.

The concert is only part of the picture, however. Numerous teachers from Orange and Osceola counties contribute to the concert’s teacher guidebook, making the YPCs an integral part of music education in Central Florida.

“The YPCs are a source of pride for the Philharmonic,” says Dr. Leia Barrett, Director of Education. “We have yet to find a symphony nationwide that reaches more people through its YPCs or is so seamlessly integrated into its district curriculum. The level of support we receive from local districts is incredible.”

Learn More About Our Young People’s Concerts

2015 Young People’s Concert: “Music in Motion”

Since 1993, the Orlando Philharmonic has presented the Young People’s Concerts (YPCs) to hundreds of thousands of students in Central Florida. In the fall of 2015, we were able to reach more than 60,000 elementary school students from Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Volusia, and Lake counties, a record-breaking year made possible by generous supporters!

The YPCs have been a crucial part of music education in Central Florida since the Orlando Philharmonic began.  This program reaches beyond the concert hall, as each teacher receives a comprehensive guidebook and interactive materials prior to the concert season.  This curriculum meets state and national standards, allowing the Young People’s Concerts to be seamlessly integrated into classroom curriculum.

This year’s theme, “Music in Motion,” brought together composers from six continents, spanning the breadth of classical music with works by Khachaturian, Johann Strauss II, Copland, Bernstein, and more! In addition to hearing a full orchestra, students experienced ballet presented by the Orlando Ballet and a performance of an opera aria sung in the original German.  The concert was co-led by a narrator and the conductor, with visuals presented throughout showcasing cultures associated with the musical works presented.

For the majority of these students, this was their first time experiencing live, orchestrated music and can mark the beginning of a lifelong love of music.

The Philharmonic would not be able to reach so many students if it was not for the help of our partners. Thank you to Orange County School District, School District of Osceola, United Arts of Central Florida, the Chesley M. Magruder Foundation, Publix Supermarket Charities, and Bloomingdale’s at the Mall at Millennia, and donors like you!

Sonny’s Summer Character Camp gets a visit from the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra

This month, members of the  Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra’s  Education Department provided students of Sonny’s Summer Character Camp at Cheney Elementary School an introduction to the basics of music. The Philharmonic’s Director of Education, Dr. Leia Barrett, makes it her mission to engage the Orlando community through music and arts education. The education department of the Philharmonic hosts a range of interactive educational opportunities such as: supporting a variety of Youth Orchestras, organizing Young People’s Concerts, and hosting “Instrument Petting Zoos” that provide hands-on experience with musical instruments. This month, percussionist Mark Goldberg of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, and members of the Development and Operations team, introduced students at Sonny’s Character Camp to the snare drum, clarinet, and violin.

To encourage community engagement and arts appreciation, Sonny’s arranged for campers to be visited by members of other community organizations such as the Orlando Magic and the Orlando Ballet. “Some of these kids would have never seen ballet otherwise,” said Dave Cain, Director of the camp’s marketing team. “It’s just so important for them to have these experiences.” Many of the campers taking part in the experience have seen the Philharmonic at other venues such as the Bob Carr Theater.

Sonny’s Summer Character Camp began 8 years ago in collaboration with the Boy Scouts of America. At the time the camp serviced the Parramore district with its value-driven mission to improve character and provide an exciting learning environment for Title I school students from kindergarten to 5th grade. This is the camp’s first year at Cheney Elementary, having been at Lowell Elementary for 7 years prior to that. The themes of the camp for this week are: “Caring,” “Self-Discipline,” “Citizenship,” “Being Trustworthy,” and “Positive Attitudes.” Montana Smith, Public Relations and Events Manager for Sonny’s BBQ, who  also serves as a camp counselor, stresses the importance of having this program in the community. “Each day [the kids] come and they’re excited for what they’re going to learn . It’s good for them to have positive role models to look up to.”

The Orlando Philharmonic provides instrument petting zoos and other education opportunities throughout the year in the Orlando community. If you would like to place a request for an educational event, please e-mail Director of Education Dr. Leia Barrett at

Sarah Overton, Orlando Philharmonic Development Intern

Students at Shingle Creek & Azalea Park Elementary Experience “Notes In Your Neighborhood”

This spring, the Orlando Philharmonic brought its Notes in Your Neighborhood program to Shingle Creek Elementary and Azalea Park Elementary, thanks to support from the City of Orlando Mayor’s Matching Grant program. Over five sessions, 100 students learned about orchestral instruments and families through hands-on activities led by orchestra musicians, staff and volunteers. During the final Notes in Your Neighborhood session, students experience a performance by a 16-piece orchestra, featuring each instrument family. 

Notes in Your Neighborhood (NIYN) is presented to students in grades 3-5,  before they reach the age when many  choose an instrument and sign up for school orchestra programs. During NIYN, students learn about a new instrument family each week, and often develop affinities for certain instruments, which gives them a head start in these programs.

Notes in Your Neighborhood was established in 2010 and has reached hundreds of Title 1 students. For more information about Notes in Your Neighborhood, contact Orlando Philharmonic Education Director of Education, Dr. Leia Barrett, at

2014 Young People’s Concerts bring music to over 56,000 Central Florida Students

In October and November, the Orlando Philharmonic presented the Young People’s Concert, “Nature in Music” to over 56,000 students. Over the course of 28 concerts, the Philharmonic provided the program free of charge to every 3-5 grade student in Orange County Public Schools, thanks to support from OCPS; and to over 4,000 students at the School District of Osceola County, thanks to support from United Arts of Central Florida and the School District of Osceola. In addition, over 5,800 students from Orange, Seminole, Osceola, and other counties attended the program during home and private school performances at Bob Carr Theater.

The Young People’s Concerts have been a staple of music education in Central Florida for over 20 years. This year’s concert included music by composers such as Vivaldi, Beethoven, Mussorgsky, John Williams and others. Students were led through the concert by narrators from the Orlando Repertory Theater, and the concerts were augmented by performances by Orlando Ballet and local opera singers.

This program is supported in part by United Arts of Central Florida. Through the Arts and Culture Access Grant, children attend field trips and in‐school programs that connect to their class curriculum. Learn more or view lesson plans at

Teaching Science Through Music

From October to December, second graders at Rock Lake Elementary School and Grand Ave Primary Learning Center are working with Orlando Philharmonic musicians, as well as professional teaching artists from Orlando Museum of Art, Maitland Museum of Art, and the Orlando Repertory Theatre as part of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra’s Symphonic Stories program. The residency uses music, theater, dance, and visual art to teach students about scientific concepts such as the seasons, weather, and the life cycles of plants and certain animals. The program is constantly hands-on, giving students the opportunity to create original vignettes based on their lessons. At the end of the program, students present what they’ve learned through a “Sharing Session,” presented for fellow students, parents, and teachers. Students work closely with teaching artists and musicians to create original works, with musicians providing the “soundtrack” for the student Sharing Session.

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Orlando Philharmonic Awarded United Arts Grant

In June, United Arts awarded the Orlando Philharmonic a $2,500 mini grant to bring the orchestra’s Notes in Your Neighborhood program to the Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida’s Walt Disney World Clubhouse, located West of downtown Orlando.   Read More

Osceola County Students to Experience Orlando Philharmonic Young People’s Concerts


Students at Osceola County School District perform “The Star Spangled Banner” at the concert. More photos here

Each year, over 55,000 elementary students across Central Florida experience the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra’s “Young People’s Concerts” at Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre in downtown Orlando. An annual Central Florida tradition, the concerts provide students the opportunity to experience a live performance of symphonic music, opera and ballet while learning about their core subjects. This year, thanks to funding from United Arts of Central Florida, the State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, and the Osceola County School Board, every 5th grade student in the Osceola County School District will see the 2013 Young People’s Concert, “Heroes & Legends” for free on Tuesday, November 5th at the Osceola County School for the Arts in the Osceola Performing Arts Center. It’s the first time students have been able to see the orchestra in their own neighborhood.

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