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Each autumn, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra presents the Children's Concert sponsored by the Hot Springs/Hot Springs Village Symphony Guild for nearly 3,000 third- through sixth-grade students.

This year's performance, set for 10 a.m. Wednesday in Bank OZK Arena, will mark the 13th anniversary of the event.

"We started at Lakeside to begin with at the gym, but we had so many people that wanted to come that we moved to the arena 11 years ago," Children's Concert Committee Chair Martha Smither said.

This year's concert is titled "Symphony Safari," and will feature pieces centering around the themes of rivers, mountains, caves and jungles, Smither said. The hourlong performance will kick off with music from the "Indiana Jones" films and feature seven other pieces that fit the theme.

Smither said the Children's Concert rotates yearly between four different themes, and the "Symphony Safari" theme came directly from former ASO Music Director Philip Mann.

"It was a program that the San Diego Symphony did, and when Phillip Mann came to the ASO, he brought it with him."

She said the concert "costs $30,000 to put on the program, including the educational materials."

The Hot Springs/Hot Springs Village Symphony Guild underwrites and raises money to fund the event, but those funds only cover two-thirds of the expenses. To provide the additional funds needed, there is an admission fee of $3 per student. Smither said this is generally paid for by the schools.

Smither said most, if not all, the public and private school districts in Garland County attend, and most send their entire third- through sixth-grade student bodies.

"Some of them have never been into the arena, and some have never even really been into Hot Springs, so it's a big experience for the kids," Smither said.

The concert also presents an educational opportunity for students. The Guild provides all participating students and teachers with curriculum, music, videos and graphics pertaining to the concert on its website created in partnership with Arkansas Learning Through The Arts.

"Introducing kids to live symphonic music is a big goal. But then with the educational materials, we talk to them about storytelling and there's a big literacy component," Smither said.

"Literacy is a big aspect. It's all about how music can paint a picture or tell a story."

The Guild's website at https://wwww.symphonyguild.org echoes this sentiment.

"This approach to an arts experience has the potential to give the student a fuller understanding of what the music is about, why it was written and how it is an outgrowth of our culture. The arts have an appeal to students that can ignite their interest in learning that can be carefully transferred to other kinds of learning. Studies have shown that when the arts are used as a tool of learning, there is a high probability for greater student achievement across the curricula," it said.

Students gain a valuable life and educational experience from the performance, but they are not the only ones who benefit from the event.

The ASO "love performing here because the kids are so well-prepared before they come to the symphony," Smither said.

"They're just very, very attentive. You can hear a pin drop. So the players just love playing for this audience."

Information about becoming a Guild member or supporting future Children's Concerts is available online.

Local on 10/18/2019

Print Headline: GC students to learn literacy through symphony

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