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A Tempo: Orchestras Reach Out to Heal, Support Their Communities


The Las Vegas Philharmonic will pay tribute to the victims of this past week’s tragic shooting and honor first responders at its October 14 concert to help heal the deep wounds being felt across the entire community.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to play music for my personal community, for my friends and family, and guests who are here in our house, to do something small that can help them heal,” said De Ann Letourneau, the Philharmonic’s concertmaster. “It’s like welcoming everyone into our home, to help a huge, mass healing in any way that we can. That’s the ultimate gift that we musicians, that’s the best we have to offer.”

The Philharmonic will perform Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony instead of the originally programmed Bruckner Symphony No. 1 and will begin the concert with Barber’s Adagio for Strings.  Some tickets are also being given out for free to first-responders in the city’s police, fire and EMS services, hospital workers and anyone seeking, in the orchestra’s words, “the refuge and solace of music.”

The city remains shaken after a gunman opened fire from an upper floor on the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino onto the crowd at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival, killing 58 and wounding nearly 500.

The Philharmonic’s response, while a very specific case, illustrates how orchestras can often reach out to support and heal their communities, and A Tempo this week will examine how this trend has been growing in recent years. A Tempo host Rachel Katz this week speaks with Letourneau, as well as with Jesse Rosen, president and CEO of the League of American Orchestras. The League earlier this year released the results of a survey of its members about the ways in which orchestras are providing educational and wellness programs, and partnering with social service organizations that promote diversity or are tackling issues such as poverty and homelessness.

Orchestras have been expanding some of their more traditional educational concert programs to include music education and training programs in schools and side-by-side rehearsal and performance opportunities for young and amateur musicians. Others have teamed up with organizations to bring music to homeless shelters or provide music therapy programs to hospitals.

“In order for orchestras to continue to sustain and also grow their support, they’ve got to be involved in contributing to their communities in a wider array of activities,” Rosen said. “One of the reasons why orchestras are fine with the long game is they find it incredibly rewarding.”

In another recent example, The Philadelphia Orchestra on Friday announced that it was partnering with The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and the local cultural organization Taller Puertorriqueño to raise funds during this month’s concert performances of West Side Story to support hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

A Tempo can be heard Saturday at 7 pm.

Rachel Katz is the host of A Tempo which airs Saturdays at 7 pm.