Education & Outreach

Our goal is to present the orchestra, the musicians and classical music in a way that is inviting to everyone.  All our educational programming has an underlying motivation:  to build a community of musicians and music supporters in order to keep music vibrant in our culture. Through our programming, we seek to build a network that will support musical expression for years to come.

Classics for Kids

The purpose of Classics for Kids is simple: bring classical music to students. This program has two primary elements. First, the orchestra demonstrates musical examples by bringing chamber ensembles into the fourth-grade classrooms in the thirteen elementary public schools of St. Cloud, Sauk Rapids, Rice and Sartell. The visits include performances by the brass, woodwind, and string sections of the orchestra and give students the chance to interact with working musicians about music and performance. The percussion demonstration is done in an auditorium for logistical reasons. It is difficult to move over twenty percussion instruments from school to school. Second, the orchestra produces a formal concert for the 1,400 fourth-grade students. This concert is both educational and experiential. The conductor explains aspects of the orchestra and classical music to the students. A pre-event training session for teachers provides them with materials to prepare students for the concert. This program occurs during the 4th-grade, a perfect time to inspire the students to join band or orchestra in the upcoming year.

Young Performers Competition

Feedback from experienced musicians is critical in the development of a young musician. The Young Performers Competition offers students the chance to perform before a panel of judges and receive feedback. The competition is open to high school and college students and has four categories: high school piano, high school non-piano, college piano and college non-piano. Winners in each category receive a $400 scholarship to continue studying music. One musician is named the Grand Prize winner, and performs with the orchestra on the final concert of the season.

Honors Concert

Performance is another essential element in a musician’s growth.  Outstanding participants from the Young Performers Competition are invited to participate in the Honors Concert.  This event gives students the chance to stand on a theatre stage beneath bright lights and perform before an audience of friends, family, and community members.

Student Ticket Program

This program offers a ticket package for one student and two adults to attend a symphony concert for $25. Without this offer, the total cost for these three audience members would be $55. Our educational programming makes young people aware of classical music and encourages their participation in it, and the Student Ticket Program compliments all of our educational efforts by making participation affordable.

Young Composers Competition

St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra Young Composer Competition is intended to enhance and expand the opportunities of a young composer in the State of Minnesota.  Compositions will be reviewed by a current published composer.  The First Place Winner will receive a scholarship in the amount of $1,000 to be applied to continued study of composition.  The winning selection will be considered for the Grand Prize, a live performance of the composition at a St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra performance.

Making a Connection

The impact of our educational programming and arts learning is significant.  Many elementary school music teachers report that for many of their students this will be the only orchestra concert they will ever attend.  This makes our role significant.

Without this type of purposeful education regarding classical music, students would not have the direct contact with a symphony orchestra and its musicians.  This great art form is an important element in our culture, and we need to get young people involved and excited about classical music.  We believe our educational programs have a lasting impression and lead to a life-long appreciation of classical music.  Providing young people with in-depth arts experiences through interactions with musicians is crucial to their involvement in this art form.