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Oakland Symphony Releases 130-Member Virtual Performance Of Bill Withers' 'Lean On Me'

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Oakland Symphony Releases 130-Member Virtual Performance Of Bill Withers' 'Lean On Me'

The Oakland Symphony today released a 130-member virtual performance of the classic Bill Withers song "Lean on Me." The performance captures the Oakland Symphony family of ensembles - the Orchestra, Chorus, and Youth Orchestra along with 30 participants of the Symphony's MUSE education program. The performers ranged in age from 8 to 86 and the musicians are of all levels. The video can be viewed at OaklandSymphony.org.

For almost 100 years, the Oakland Symphony has presented classical and symphonic music in the Bay Area. Michael Morgan, since 1991, has served as the Symphony's Music Director and Conductor and has personified the organization's commitment to serving its diverse population through the unique convergence of artistic excellence, community service, and education programs. The Symphony's aim is to make classical music accessible to all members of our community by presenting unique programs and attracting a wide-ranging, culturally diverse audience.

The video concept was to gather the Oakland Symphony's family of ensembles and perform a song that would allow everyone to participate. The song that was chosen was Bill Withers's "Lean On Me." Released in 1972, "Lean on Me" is a timeless song with powerful lyrics that continues to influence generations of listeners. With Withers's passing on March 30, the Oakland Symphony is paying tribute to his contributions to music and his continuing impact on the world. The video is also celebrating the breadth and scope of the Oakland Symphony's ongoing music education activities and community outreach.

Oakland Symphony Chorus Director Lynne Morrow, Symphony cellist and MUSE mentor Elizabeth Vandervennet, Symphony oboist Andrea Plesnarski, Symphony French Horn player Alicia Telford, and Symphony flautist Amy Likar steered the video from idea generation to completion. The video was edited by Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra Conductor Omid Zoufonoun who was guided by the technical challenges of producing a video with 130 musicians trying to perform the same song but not at the same time.

"The final song arrangement was determined in the post production so it could be inclusive and complimentary of all musicians and chorus members," said Zoufonoun. "This performance reflects the Symphony's culture of inclusiveness, education, and community."

Since 1933, the Oakland Symphony has presented classical and symphonic music in Oakland and has been celebrated as one of the most distinct regional orchestras in the country, serving a diverse population through its unique convergence of artistic excellence, community service, and education programs. Led by Music Director and conductor Michael Morgan since 1991, the Symphony's aim is to make classical music accessible to all members of our community by presenting unique programs and attracting a wide-ranging, culturally diverse audience.

The Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra is recognized as an outstanding Bay Area music program and consists of nearly 90 talented music students, aged 12 to 22 years, from 46 schools and more than 30 cities in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Orchestra maintains a commitment to cultural exchange through international tours every three years. Touring destinations have included many countries in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Prior tours have also given students the opportunity to visit and perform in China, the Caribbean Islands, Costa Rica, Mexico, Cuba, Australia and New Zealand.

The Symphony's MUSE Program is a multi-component music education and enrichment initiative that serves young people at public schools and community sites throughout Oakland. By providing these programs free to participants, the Symphony ensures that each year, 16,000 young people have access to a variety of music education and enrichment activities, regardless of their economic situation.

The Oakland Symphony Chorus enriches our community through high-quality musical performances and educational workshops that raise appreciation and understanding of choral music while providing opportunities for people who love to sing. Established in 1958, the 110-member Oakland Symphony Chorus is recognized as one of the East Bay's finest choirs and a premier resource for continuing education in the choral arts. The Chorus is a dues-based choir that performs regularly with its partners, the Oakland Symphony and Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra, as well as a variety of other excellent area orchestras.

For more information on the video and how to support Oakland Symphony, please visit OaklandSymphony.org.


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