The Itasca Orchestra and Strings program was awarded grants by the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation to fund a new competitive scholarship and winter concert. The Itasca Orchestra and Strings program enriches many lives through music providing opportunities to hear, learn or perform orchestral music for the youth and adults of Itasca County.
“Music enriches us, our communities and families in so many ways often expressing in notes what we cannot put into words,” says Sarah Copeland, Director of Grants and Programs at the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation. “I cannot imagine our lives without music as it fills the soundtracks of our movies, churches, (even our elevators) and the tunes we hum in our daily lives.” We are fortunate to have access to many forms and opportunities to participate in the arts, and the Itasca Orchestra and Strings program is one way for all generations to learn and play together.
PHOTO: (L-R) Tammy Mattonen, Executive Director, Itasca Orchestra and Strings; Jesse Davis, Viola player; and Brianna Spry, Program Administrator, Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation.
Itasca Orchestra and Strings program competitive scholarship increases accessibility
The Itasca Orchestra and Strings program is establishing a competitive scholarship program for youth. The goal is to retain and attract students who strive to learn and perform at a high level by removing financial barriers and establishing a commitment to the program. String instructors expressed a desire to retain committed students that could not afford the program.
The preliminary grant program plan includes partial scholarships for six students. Having a competitive scholarship program makes the program accessible to those students who are engaged and are motivated to work hard. The grants will be scored by a board of directors committee based on defined criteria. The Itasca Orchestra and Strings program does currently offer a scholarship that is based entirely on income. However, it is loan which is paid back when the student’s family receives their refundable Minnesota income tax education subtraction credit.
For the Itasca Orchestra and Strings program, having competitive scholarships would improve the entire program by urging students to practice more. Excellence builds on excellence and this incentive will increase the level of commitment and impact the entire Program.
The Itasca Orchestra and Strings program serves an average of 80 students per year. Teachers provide lessons to students during the school day in Grand Rapids, Bigfork and Greenway. In addition to lessons, students participate in weekly rehearsals and have two public concerts a year.
The Itasca Orchestra and program was awarded $200 from a Community Foundation online donation.
Itasca Orchestra and Strings program receive funding to enhance concert season
Director Keith Swanson has designed a concert for February 2018 titled Hot Latin in the Cold of Winter. The pieces have an energy and fire that will appeal to Grand Rapids music lovers who are getting tired of winter. This music is newer and not in the public domain. Consequently, the music costs are much higher than usual and well over budget.
The Itasca Orchestra and Strings program’s mission is to provide opportunities to hear, learn or perform orchestral music for the youth and adults of Itasca County. The core musician group lives and works in the community and rehearses once a week under the direction of a professional director from Duluth. For the concert, the orchestra pays professional musicians to fill in missing or weaker parts. This allows residents to have an opportunity to be part of a musical performance community and ensures a quality performance for the audience to enjoy.
With his extensive music experience and 27 years with the Itasca Orchestra, Keith Swanson has a strong knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of our community orchestra and has a good feel for the musical appetite of our community.
The Itasca Orchestra and Strings program is blessed with a loyal concert audience and steadfast musicians who have embraced the orchestra since its inception in the 1980’s. As audiences age, there is a need to reach out to younger audiences. The planned February concert is an opportunity to switch up the repertoire with some spicy and fresh music. The music is high quality orchestrated music and will appeal to younger residents as well as traditional audiences.
The Itasca Orchestral Society was awarded $606 from the Betty Kauppi Music Fund.