Albany, Georgia conductor Dr. Claire Fox Hillard is performing with the Meridian Symphony Orchestra today as part of the Link Up
National program. Visit our School Programs section to learn more about Carnegie Hall's Link Up and Link Up National programs.
I've just arrived in Meridian, Mississippi to
begin preparing for the Meridian Symphony Orchestra's Link Up performances. I use Link Up with both of the orchestras I direct—I really enjoy its interactive
concert concept, which successfully integrates audience participation sequences
with focused listening.
This year's Link Up curriculum, The Orchestra Sings, was extremely effective when we performed it in Albany
last month. The concert is about melody with a script featuring a host
and a singer. While the host acts as the emcee of the concert,
the singer interacts with the host and conductor to take the students through a
detailed exploration of melody in a very lively, age-specific way.
The Albany Symphony Orchestra performs The Orchestra Sings.
One of the most interesting and effective
segments of the concert involves the finale from Stravinsky's Firebird Suite.
The orchestra has cue sheets for the opening melody, a
rhythmic pattern, and a final chord. The host asks the students to choose
two instruments to perform the melody. In Albany, the students
enthusiastically chose the harp and the tuba. Then the students are asked which
section of the orchestra should perform the rhythm—the audience voted as each
section was read off. You can imagine the competition and shouting! Finally, they were asked how many final chords
the orchestra should play at the end. Albany students chose four chords.
At this point the orchestra performs the music as "composed" by
the audience. Proud of their creation, they shouted and applauded
I can tell you that the students were totally
quiet and completely focused on listening as we performed. The preceding
exercise has prepared them to listen attentively to what was happening in the
orchestra. This is simply one example that stands out in my mind as an
illustration of the effectiveness of the Link Up curriculum, and I can’t wait to
see what happens when we perform in Meridian! —Dr. Claire Fox Hillard
Educators and others interested in the Link Up curriculum, visit Carnegie Hall's Online Resource Center to register for access to the materials discussed by Dr. Hillard.