In 2017, some 60 SZSO musicians brought classical music up close and personal to approximately 2500 students into schools through the SZSO Classroom project. There was also an essays contest, which gave ample evidence of the passion in the students. “I saw the joy and respect on their faces. I felt strongly their unquenchable thirst for learning and first-hand experience. This is all extremely touching. The joy brought on by the sharing of information and this mutual exchange of experience, is for me a gigantic source of happiness”, says our principal bass, Hervé Granjon. This contagious joy has spread to the surrounding areas. The City of Shanghai Board of Education brought the Shanghai Youth Orchestra to Suzhou where they underwent a musical exchange with their counterparts from Suzhou in a concert, thus bringing the 2017 Music Classroom project to a beautiful climactic finish.
According to Hervé, transmitting love through music is every musician’s responsibility. To that end, the 2018 SZSO Classroom series offers a new range of possible formats and genres in outreach, allowing even more people to be at the receiving end of the love that only music can transmit.
The expanded scope of its projects include:
· Open Rehearsals: Students are invited to the Suzhou Jinji Lake Concert Hall, where they will learn the basic fundamentals of listening to music and observe the work of an orchestra in rehearsal. The total immersion learning style will help open the gateway to classical music for these students.
· Pre-Concert Talks: informative and entertaining lectures before the concerts will guide the listeners to great understanding of the essential details in the concert program.
· Exhibitions: these exhibitions are yet another ‘gateway’ to present the kaleidoscope of music in a visually engaging way and enrich the concert-going experience. The “Aida” Exhibition in 2017 was a splendid complement to the first-ever full-scale grand opera production in Suzhou. Exhibitions on the “History of Concert Halls” and “Finlandia – Sibelius” are planned for 2018.
· Family and children concerts will create more opportunities for the young and new initiates to experience the magic and power of music in even more vivid ways, such as “Ping! Pang! Pong!” Percussion Day for Toddlers, Children’s Day special concert involving both players from the SZSO and youth orchestras in Suzhou, and “Little Genius – prenatal care concert” for mother-in-waiting.
· As an international organization, the Suzhou Symphony Orchestra is committed to building bridges. The SZSO and selected schools in Suzhou will partner in new initiatives to provide world-class training and coaching to the music students in ensemble and orchestra programs. These programs form a long-term strategy to develop more international resources and platforms for the local music students, and elevate the awareness and interest in culture, arts and humanities for the youth of Suzhou on a global scale.