Representing North Dakota:
Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra
Symphony Rocks began ten years ago to showcase the FMSO to audiences who might not attend traditional classical concerts. It is a collaboration with a local 12-piece horn band with the awesome name of Post Traumatic Funk Syndrome. The FMSO’s principal bassoon is also lead sax with PTFS, and he has written over 100 arrangements for the FMSO and PTFS together. Symphony Rocks is held at a beautiful outdoor amphitheater, and is a highly anticipated end-of-summer event. (It is held the week before public schools begin their school year.) It is also a sell-out, with close to 2,000 people in attendance. it is the FMSO’s biggest fundraiser of the year; the 2019 Symphony Rocks (the last one we were able to do) raised just over $100,000 for the FMSO, in a budget of about $800,000.
In addition, the FMSO is involved with a variety of other outreach efforts: Young People’s Concerts annual for all fourth-graders within about 50 miles (around 3,000, total); an autumn family matinee with lighter classical music even kids will enjoy; a Young Artists Solo Competition (virtual this year) with high school and college musicians competing for a significant cash prize and the opportunity to play a movement of a concerto with the FMSO; and occasional communitywide events where the FMSO is the anchor of the event, such as after the tremendous flooding in 2009 that culminated in two concerts at the local 18,000-seat arena, with free admission for all, honoring those on the front lines of fighting the severe flooding (although thousands helped), and celebrating the bonds of the metro area in overcoming such obstacles. The celebration featured audience sing-alongs and speeches by Minnesota and North Dakota leaders in the US Senate and Congress. The next big effort is, “Welcome to a World of Beautiful Music,” aimed at newborns and their parents. In cooperation with the two major local hospital systems, all new mothers and fathers will receive a card with information about how to listen to great classical music, recorded by the FMSO and its musicians, to help babies at their brains begin to develop. The same program is being offered to senior residential facilities of all types to bring joy and comfort to residents–and, perhaps, to interest them in learning more about the FMSO.
Symphony Rocks is also a time to celebrate: great music, great fun, the end of summer, and, this year (we hope), the end of the pandemic and a new beginning.
The Young People’s Concerts are highly anticipated by the kids. Any number of them have gone on to careers in music, and we regularly receive letters in the office from adults who attended the Young People’s Concerts years ago, and tell us of something that happened in their lives recently that prompted the memories and appreciation–and the letter.
“Welcome to a World of Beautiful Music” will serve the families of newborns–and the newborns, of course!–by providing both great music and elements of brain development in the newborns, their siblings, if any, and the parents.