Big Tent Initiative
Since 2015, the Big Tent has enabled us to reach diverse, new audiences in parks and open spaces from inner-city Richmond to the metropolitan suburbs to the fields of Goochland, Powhatan, New Kent County and the state parks of Virginia. Through Big Tent Festivals, the Symphony enlists a broad coalition of community partners who work together to create lasting benefit in their local neighborhoods. These benefits range from an enhanced sense of community cohesion, to increased levels of community pride, and often to improving access to music education by generating proceeds that are invested back into public school music programs. Since 2016, over $300,000 of philanthropic proceeds have been invested in Richmond Public Schools,, putting 363 instruments into 20 schools so far, plus band uniforms, choir dress, and other equipment. The Symphony is on track to reach $500,000 by June 2020, enough to enable all 32 Richmond elementary and middle schools to teach student orchestras.
The RSO's Education Programs seek to "foster and develop diverse, informed audiences who value live symphonic music and music education in our community; to help nurture and develop young musicians; and to advocate for music education and orchestral music." Services include: 1) Musical Ambassadors Program (MAP) - Small ensembles of RSO musicians perform more than 100 concerts annually in elementary, middle, and high schools throughout Central Virginia. More than 40,000 children experience live classical music each year through MAP. 2) Discovery Concerts - Interactive youth concerts that focus on the emotional power of symphony music and curricular themes for grades 3-8 3) Youth Orchestra Program - Consists of 6 youth orchestras that provide beginner to advanced musical training 4) Orchestra Project - in collaboration with VCU, we have a one week String Intensive camp each summer for advanced players in grades 8 – 12 and a one week String Odyssey camp for middle and high school students with a minimum of one year of experience but who are ready to advance their skills.
The core of the Symphony's activities are its concert season performances which include four main series: Altria Masterworks - Beloved masterpieces in the traditional European art music repertory, presented in the Symphony's home, the Carpenter Theatre at the Dominion Energy Center. Pre-concert talks begin one hour before all Masterworks concerts.Casual Fridays - One- hour concerts starting at 6:30 that showcase great works from the classical repertoire including a deeper look into that evening’s work, with a post concert happy hour across the street to round out the evening.Symphony Pops - Lighter popular and classical favorites, featuring celebrated stage and screen performers at the Carpenter Theatre.Metro Collection - Four intimate, engaging chamber orchestra concerts held at Randolph-Macon College that feature Richmond Symphony Musicians as soloists.Union Bank & Trust LolliPops - A series designed just for children and families, the LolliPops Series is a fun introduction to the orchestra. Pre-concert festival with an instrument petting zoo and musical activities begins an hour before each kid-friendly concert.Rush Hour at Hardywood - One-hour informal concerts featuring great music and discussion in the Hardywood tasting room.Handel's Messiah is a holiday classic featuring the Richmond Symphony Chorus.