After losing funding for field trips to arts performances three years ago, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools partnered with the Arts & Science Council to not only reinstate them but provide a more complete experience.
In seven waves this week, more than 11,000 fifth-graders will attend "Endless Possibilities," an event with the Charlotte Symphony, Opera Carolina and North Carolina Dance Theatre. The program features music and dance chosen to stimulate 10- and 11-year-olds and is accompanied by curriculum addressing this performance.
More than 51,000 students will participate in field trips, including third-graders and middle schoolers, at a cost of $338,000, mostly funded by ASC. Wells Fargo, Ulysses Festival, UNC Charlotte and CMS also contributed for the fifth-grade trips.
When the schools and ASC formed a partnership to bring field trips back, they wanted students to get more from the experience than a memory of whatever the arts groups chose to present usually something from their current season. The partnership outlined what artistic material was appropriate for fifth-graders and reached out to the opera, symphony and dance company.
What they came up with was Bach's "Toccata and Fugue" arranged with a Latin beat, accompanying four couples dancing a salsa; Mozart's "The Magic Flute," the Queen of the Night aria and the duet between Papageno and Papagena; the first movement from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, played with a rock, Latin and hip-hop beat; and in dance, Alonzo King's "Chants;" "Warehouse Medicine," a piece by Mason Bates for DJ and orchestra; and the overture to Bernstein's "Candide."
Students learn about the composers, musicians, choreographers and dancers before they see the show. On Tuesday, their familiarity and enthusiasm was evident as they joined Charlotte Symphony Guest Conductor Jacomo Rafael Bairos in chanting "Johann Sebastian Bach" and "Ludwig van Beethoven."
The effort to make this traditional yet innovative program happen was immense. Aside from the 18 months of planning, the partnership formation, Wells Fargo's donation, the arts organizations performing at cost (rather than charging $4 per student), 40 school buses were required to transport 1,700 people to each of the seven performances.
The curriculum continues after the performances with journal activities. Students will be able to design their own costumes for Papageno or write a tweet about the event. The partnership expects benefits to continually reveal themselves for years to come.
Judging by the number of kids perched on the edge of their seats mimicking Bairos' baton pattern with their hands, Charlotte can look forward to a flood of conductors.
Source The Charlotte Observer
This article is part of the Charlotte Arts Journalism Alliance, a consortium of local media dedicated to writing about the arts.
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