Mellon Foundation gives Baltimore Symphony $950,000 for BSO Academy

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's outreach project for amateur musicians, the BSO Academy, launched with $900,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to underwrite the first three years, will be funded for three more by another $900,000 from the foundation.

The bulk of the funding will go to enhancing activities at the BSO Academy, a week-long venture held each June after the end of the BSO's regular season, and adding educational activities at other times of the year.

"The Academy has proven to be very successful," said BSO president and CEO Paul Meecham. "There are plans to expand it to two weeks eventually. We view [the BSO Academy project] as part of our core mission. It started from asking ourselves how we can use the orchestra in different ways, other than just doing more concerts."

The Mellon Foundation has added an extra $50,000 this time, earmarked for scholarships aimed at "making the program more inclusive of individuals from all backgrounds," according to a statement released by the BSO Thursday.

The Academy, which was launched in 2010 with 47 amateur musicians and grew to 104 last June, offers extensive opportunities for participants to freshen their skills in private lessons, master classes, rehearsals and a public concert performed side-by-side with BSO players and conducted by BSO music director Marin Alsop.

Basic tuition is $1,850 for the orchestral portion of the program. Participants can add chamber music sessions with BSO players for another $500. New for the fourth annual Academy, which will be held June 15 to 22, is ...

a $500 option to participate in a chamber orchestra.

Also new in 2013 will be fellowship opportunities for arts administrators interested in learning the process of creating an academy for amateur musicians.

Registrations for the 2013 BSO Academy are due by Jan. 17.

In addition to the June activities, the BSO plans to offer two day-long Instrument Clinics this season, Feb. 9 and April 20, "for adult musicians of all levels and experiences." The clinics will be devoted to improving technical and artistic skills.

Yet another outreach program is in the works: Chamber Music Weekends, when amateur players and BSO members will work on chamber repertoire. The first such weekend is slated for this summer, dates to be announced.

The popular Rusty Musicians programs held each year by the BSO -- one condensed night of rehearsal and performance -- has been put under the now more expansive umbrella of the BSO Academy.


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