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Live from Meridian: Students applaud Link Up National

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.   

Albany Symphony Orchestra performing Link Up

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 wildly.  

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. 

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