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