Explore Music!

Explore Music! programs reach more than 35,000 children, youth, adults and seniors throughout a single year. By eliminating price and taking the programs to their participants/audience, the Symphony reaches beyond the stage at the Alberta Bair Theater and into the communities in the greater Billings area.

Annual Family Concerts: Music Director Anne Harrigan and the Billings Symphony develop this program each season. The concert features a guest artist and local children. In addition to two free school performances at the Alberta Bair Theater, a public performance will be performed Saturday evening with family-friendly ticket prices.

FREE Symphony in the Park: Symphony in the Park is the most elaborate musical showcase staged by the BSO&C. More than 10,000 people attend the FREE annual outdoor concert at Pioneer Park. Along with light classical and pops-style music, the event offers picnic fare and an instrument petting zoo.

Adventures in Music (AiM): The Billings Symphony works with area schools and cultural organizations to offer a half-day, hands-on music education workshop for K-8 students. More than 1,000 students have the opportunity to learn about the orchestra and chorale through a series of round-robin demonstrations with musicians, an instrument petting zoo, and a Billings Symphony dress rehearsal.

Backstage with the Symphony: Throughout the year, in collaboration with the Alberta Bair Theater, The Billings Symphony offers the community and educators a glimpse into the creative workings of the orchestra and chorale via a dress rehearsal.

Concert Cues: Each season concert is preceded at 6:45 p.m. by a brief, interactive discussion related to the evening’s music, composers and guest artists.

Conductor in the Community: Music Director Anne Harrigan guest conducts rehearsals of an area bands and orchestras as well as visits with area organizations and civic groups. Approximately 1,500 students, grades 5-12, and area adults learn about the commitment, dedication and determination required to become a professional musician.

Internships: Internships with the orchestra or BSO&C office provide opportunities to gain experience in the field, determine if one has an interest in a particular career, create a network of contacts, and/or gain school credit.

Master Classes: Special Guest Artists performing with the Billings Symphony share their talents and experiences with BSO musicians and students from around the region through these free classes.

Musicians in the Schools: Nearly 3,500 youth, grades K-12, as well as students attending MSU-Billings and Rocky Mountain College, learn about instruments from small ensembles of BSO&C musicians. Musicians are encouraged to share their personal stories about why and how they became musicians, to discuss how music can be a lifelong avocation or vocation, and to show the flexibility of their instrument through the performance of a variety of genres of music.

Musicians after Hours: This outreach program is not designed to be a music lesson. Rather, musicians are encouraged to use music as a way to begin a dialogue and to offer positive interactions with youth. More than 2,000 kids ages 6-16 at after-school sites such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Yellowstone County, the YMCA, and Friendship House participate in this program and learn about symphonic music and about the commitment and dedication it takes to become a professional musician.

Random Acts of Music: Small ensembles of BSO&C musicians are scheduled to perform in unusual and unexpected high-traffic locations such as at the airport, Rimrock Mall, or MetraPark in an effort to increase community awareness of symphonic music and the BSO&C as people go about their daily routines.

Rural Rhythms: Arranged through partnerships with local arts agencies, casual performances by small ensembles of BSO&C musicians are given in community spaces to more than 400 residents of rural communities.

Senior Series: Members of the BSO&C visit retirement homes, assisted-living facilities, and low-income meal sites to perform for elders in an environment that is comfortable and accessible to them. This program reaches 500 seniors who due to physical constraints, lack of transportation or price barriers otherwise would not be able to experience the joy of live symphonic music.

Side by Side: A tremendously rewarding experience for Symphony musicians, students, and the audience, our Side by Side program is designed to help students develop a lifelong interest in music and dance. Students have the unique opportunity to share the stage with our professional orchestra and choral musicians as well as get a chance to work with the professional dance troupe from the Nutcracker. Students experience rehearsing and performing alongside professionals.

Rush Ticketing & Group Ticketing: In an effort to eliminate price as a barrier, rush tickets may be purchased for a discount on the evening of a season concert, based on availability. Nearly 200 people take advantage of this offer each season. Groups of 10 or more may inquire about discounted group ticketing.

In conclusion, it is important to note that outreach does not occur strictly as a result of an organized program. With 13% of our musicians traveling 100 miles or further to be a part of the BSO&C, our community engagement occurs informally on a daily basis around the region, as well as in Billings. Our musicians are music teachers in their communities’ schools, private music teachers, and members of their churches’ choirs. They come together in small ensemble groups such as the Yellowstone Chamber Players and perform with other area arts organizations, for instance, in the pit orchestra of Rimrock Opera. This ripple effect makes the impact of the Billings Symphony exponentially greater than any estimate of people we think we are going to reach, and it helps us illustrate the intrinsic role the Symphony plays in creating the cultural fiber of the communities we serve.


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