This spring was a feast for the senses for so many Sarasota County students.
From watching a live opera by the MET to the sweet sounds of the Sarasota Orchestra, these experiences are connecting with kids in many ways.
Sarasota Orchestra Concert
On May 9, several thousand students, chaperones and teachers went to the Sarasota Orchestra Young Person’s Concert. I watched as they came – dressed up fifth graders in suit jackets, ties and Sunday dresses. While this concert has a 50-year history, Sarasota Orchestra educator Alyson Rozier always gives it a new twist.
This year, it’s the “The Melodic Life”, presenting a Student Composer Project facilitated by composer Gregory Smith. Mr. Smith worked with area students to write a melody that was performed by the Sarasota Orchestra in the Young Person’s Concert.
What a thrill to hear their work played! It was a special treat to have Riverview High School graduate Christopher Confessore conduct. For the first time ever, the pre-concert workshop was interconnected to all Sarasota and Manatee area elementary schools using Safari Live, a video/audio interactive learning platform.
Sarasota and Venice Art Centers
Next, tasty treats at the Sarasota Art Center and Venice Art Center Student Art Shows, featuring north county and south county schools respectively. I watched as a group of high school students talked about a first place painting, including its technique and message. Photography, mixed media, painting, sculpture, weaving and paper arts were all on display.
Embracing Our Differences
Next, on to the Embracing Our Differences exhibit on the Sarasota Bayfront, where the power of art and words are forged for a moving experience. Students stand in front of each panel and consider its meaning. The docents tell me they are blown away by the fresh perspectives of young children.
Livestreaming MET Opera Performance
And the pièce de résistance of the day? Two hundred fifty Booker High School seniors go to their first opera – “La Traviata,” a three-hour performance by the MET in HD.
English teacher Ashley Harris, one of three faculty members involved in the project, prepared students for the experience, including having them create cartoon strips depicting scenes or answering questions like, “What exactly is a courtesan?”
Each of these “yummy courses” was made possible by teachers who sought them out for their students and the organizations that designed them. But the “table” was set by generous donors who are passionate about students experiencing the arts.
The Patterson Foundation funded a $500,000 matching gift through the Education Foundation of Sarasota County to inspire more donors to assure students benefit fully from the available “Sarasota Feast.”
Yes, May 9 offered a “hearty meal,” but it’s available for area students throughout the school year. A search on EdExploreSRQ.com demonstrates this point where 28 organizations offer some 125 choices – many more than Baskin-Robbins famous ice cream list.