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BPO teaching community to love classical music

Photo by Robin Parkinson
BPO goes to schools

By Joyce Kryszak


Buffalo, NY – Attracting new and younger audiences is a growing problem for orchestras. But the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra has a raft of expanded educational programs aimed at teaching kids and adults to love classical music.

Over the decades, the audience coming to hear the BPO has gotten smaller and smaller, and much grayer. When BPO director JoAnn Falletta arrived in Buffalo she set out to change that. Educational programming became a big part of the BPO's strategy to grow audiences.

And the BPO is doing more of it now than ever before. This year there are more than eight different programs happening all over Western New York. Robin Parkinson is director of education for the BPO. She said their outreach has been a well-kept secret.

Last year she said more than 35,000 kids were exposed to the BPO through these programs.

Some programs bring musicians and conductors into the schools to teach kids about classical music. Others bring kids as young as pre-school into Kleinhans for concerts and collaborative programs.

The BPO's West Side Connection focuses on reaching the BPO's closest neighbors. 11 west side multi-ethnic schools participate in the cultural collaboration with BPO musicians and internationally renowned guests. Parkinson said they are trying to break down cultural barriers.

The BPO also offers educational programs for adults. The popular lecture series has expanded at local libraries. And this year the BPO in partnership with the American Composers Orchestra will launch the BPO February New Music Festival. The new music readings, featuring four emerging composers, will be open to the public.