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Columbus Symphony Exceeds Goal Of Children Reached in 2020-21 Season


The Symphony 55,000 central Ohio children in the 2020-21 season through a variety of established programs and newly created youth outreach initiatives.

Columbus Symphony Exceeds Goal Of Children Reached in 2020-21 Season

The Columbus Symphony's 2019-20 strategic plan called for the organization to double the number of children served annually, establishing a goal to reach 50,000 children. Despite the challenges imposed by the unforeseen pandemic, the Columbus Symphony's innovative efforts have met and exceeded that goal, reaching more than 55,000 central Ohio children in the 2020-21 season through a variety of established programs and newly created youth outreach initiatives.

Moving into the 2021-22 season, the Columbus Symphony has made a commitment to further increase its outreach to children by identifying and removing barriers for central Ohio youth that impede access to classical music performances and exposure to classical music education. Part of that commitment includes offering free tickets to all 2021-22 Masterworks concerts for children aged 6-16.

"We know the positive impact music has in enriching the well-being of our youth especially in these complicated and confusing times, so each year, we dedicate a significant amount of time and resources toward our initiatives for children," stated Columbus Symphony Executive Director Denise Rehg. "As we look to next season, we have made a commitment to serve even more of our youth by removing barriers and providing access to as many interactive, educational music experiences as possible. We believe the coming season is a critical period after a year of dealing with the trauma imposed by the pandemic. The response has been tremendous."

How the CSO Served 55,000 Central Ohio Students in the 2020-21 Season

  • The CSO developed a remote music education curriculum free of charge for Columbus City Schools that is currently reaching more than 4,600 third grade students.
  • Mindful Music Moments, a daily mindfulness and classical music program that promotes student focus, has been underwritten by the CSO and made available to all Columbus City Schools and central Ohio pre-schools free of charge. Currently, 30 schools and 9 pre-schools have implemented the program, reaching more than 15,900 children.
  • In September 2020, the CSO launched two new web sites for (for grades K-6) and To date, has been viewed more than 6,000 times, and has been viewed more than 1,200 times.
  • The CSO has a long-standing commitment to youth orchestras, operating five orchestras that engage music students of all levels-Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra (grades 9-12), Cadet Orchestra (grades 7-10), Chamber Strings (grades 6-9), Junior Strings (grades 3-6), and Columbus All City Orchestra (grades 9-12). In the 2020-21 season, approximately 273 student musicians are participating.
  • In partnership with the Cincinnati Youth Orchestra and Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, the Columbus Symphony offers a weekly, 45-minute Zoom session for music students that cover a wide variety of music-related topics. Curated by each orchestra in turn, the partnership has hosted more than 20 sessions to date, reaching approximately 500 students.
  • The CSO has performed several free, family-friendly concerts presented as socially distanced, in-person events, virtual offerings, or both. These include 20 outdoor, community concerts at a variety of locations throughout central Ohio, the Halloween Spooktacular online concert, and The Columbus Symphony Holiday Spectacular which was broadcast on two local TV affiliates and reached more than 36,000 households.
  • The full-time musicians have taken an integral role in providing small-group Zoom lessons to the 273 student musicians participating in the Columbus Symphony's youth orchestras during the winter months, promoting continued learning when in-person rehearsals were not possible.
  • Launched in 2018, the Columbus Symphony Cares initiative partners with central Ohio social service organizations and schools to support their missions through meaningful and customized music education programming for their participants. Programming can include such events as ensemble performances, instrument "petting zoos," or career day presentations. To date, the CSO has hosted 18 events impacting 75 children.
  • Since 2015, the Columbus Symphony has presented the Link Up program in collaboration with Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute. Students in grades 3-5 learn to sing and play an instrument in their own classrooms, then perform with the CSO from their seats at the Ohio Theatre. For 2020, Link Up was reinvented as a two-day, virtual event, allowing students to play along with CSO musicians live from their homes or classrooms. Participation in 2020 increased 47% from the previous year, engaging more than 7,500 students in 43 different schools.
  • The CSO transformed their annual benefit concert into the first-ever 2021 Columbus Symphony Cares About Kids Virtual Benefit, broadcasting the program digitally March 8-13. The Columbus Symphony musicians performed a concurrent week of service, donating their time and talents to provide meaningful musical experiences for more than 450 central Ohio children through 13 central Ohio schools and social service organizations.

How the CSO Will Increase Its Service to Central Ohio Children in 2021-22

  • All children aged 6-16 will receive free admission to all 2021-22 Masterworks concerts.
  • The Columbus Symphony is currently working to provide free tickets to all Title 1 elementary schools in central Ohio to attend its yearly Young People's Concerts and will make every effort to pay for bus transportation if a barrier to attendance. This will likely require the CSO to add additional concerts to accommodate the increased number of children.
  • The Columbus Symphony will double the number of in-school concerts, offering the performances free of charge to schools.

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