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Commitment to education

With its unique combination of artistic excellence, thematic programming, audience engagement and innovative education projects, the Philadelphia Classical Symphony opens new portals to young listeners for lifelong appreciation of great music. Philadelphia Classical Symphony school programs inspire intellects and delight the senses. They leave youngsters wanting to hear more.

PCS student performances include engaging commentary, multi-media demonstrations, and lots of audience interaction. The PCS was awarded ‘Best of Philly’ by Philadelphia Magazine, and twice awarded ‘Best in Philadelphia,’ by CityPaper. Philadelphia Inquirer Music Critic David Patrick Stearns wrote that audiences at our cross-cultural China Allure concert told him that the experience “changed lives.” Stearns also called ‘memorable’ a PCS demonstration utilizing film clips to demonstrate the importance of the cinema in Shotakovich’s early music.

Tyrica Smith, a 12th grader at the Benjamin Franklin High School in Philadelphia, wrote, “ The whole thing was very cool. I would like to see it all again.” Tyrica’s teacher, Mr. Burns, seconded her approval: “I was impressed by Mr. Middleman’s interaction with the audience. It was a perfect bridge between the performers and the students.”

Reawakenings of American Indian music (RAIM)

RAIM is a four-part original series designed to teach elementary school children American Indian songs, chants and dances to elementary school students. Since 2008, PCS has served 12 different schools in the Greater Philadelphia area reaching approximately 4,000 students Objectives of RAIM include:

• Spotlighting the culture of a large, underserved and culturally marginalized population –Lenape – and promote greater appreciation of their living heritage
• Offering a positive model of living heritage to approximately 3,000 school students each year
• Reaching new and younger audiences, who, frustrated by outsider status to older western traditions, will find new portals for music appreciation
• Engaging students in a multi-disciplinary participatory experience and cultural dialogue about the similarities, as well as the creative tensions posed by the fusion of diverse musical cultures

Composer connections

Composer Connections pairs leading composers and 1st-chair Philadelphia Orchestra members for masterclasses in Greater Philadelphia area schools. Students learn both the art of music composition and what it’s like to be a star performer. Performers include Trombonist Nitzan Haroz and Marimbist Angela Zater Nelson. Composers include Chuck Holdemann and Andrea Clearfield. Schools include the High School of Creative and Performing Arts, Girard Academic Music Program, and the Masterman School.

Artist/teacher training program

Training artist/teachers of tomorrow is a PCS passion. The PCS trains young performers in how to communicate effectively to students by teaching them techniques of student engagement. PCS artistic director Karl Middleman – whose pioneering styles of audience engagement have drawn comparisons with Leopold Stokowski and Leonard Bernstein – observes and mentors young artist/teachers in the classroom. Recent schools include the Miquon School, the John Story Jenks School, and the Martin Luther King High School.

Meet the Maestro

Sophisticated, worldly and always entertaining, Maestro Karl Middleman regales student groups with musical tales and live piano demonstrations on such topics as Humor in Music, Beethoven the Creator, Mad for Italian Opera and 300 other presentations he has served to great acclaim at dozens of schools, colleges, libraries and learning institutions. Maestro Karl’s lectures mix scholarship with showmanship. Peppered with possibilities for audience participation, Maestro Karl’s presentations demonstrate that teaching classical music need not be rarified and exclusionary, but fun and fulfilling.

A career educator, he has served on the faculties of Arcadia University, Cabrini, Philadelphia and Montgomery County Community Colleges and Temple University Music Prep. Recently he served as Arts Advocate and Trainer for the ‘Classroom Arts Project’ of Partners in Distance Learning. Currently he is a Commonwealth Speaker for the Pennsylvania Humanities Council. He is a regular workshop leader for Pendle Hill Retreat Center where he teaches courses on music and humanism. Maestro Middleman’s presentation entitled Dvorak’s New World was recently broadcast on the Pennsylvania Cable Television Network.