Ravinia Festival has announced the creation of its free student orchestra program for children 8 to 12 years old, based on the successful El Sistema orchestral education model devised in Venezuela, which is a system of total immersion in music study. This new after-school orchestra under the banner of Sistema Ravinia will be created at Catalyst Circle Rock Charter School in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago.
The official launch of the “Circle Rockets” took place at the school on October 25, when over 50 students receivd their new instruments, learned their first notes and performed their first concert.
“It’s a terrific experience to put a musical instrument in a kid’s hand, but even better when you see the music all over his face,” said Ravinia Festival President and CEO Welz Kauffman. “It’s part of Ravinia’s mission to provide music training and education to children who otherwise may never have the chance to experience it.”
Sistema Ravinia focuses on providing exceptional music training, creating a family of musicians and fostering social development. Students in the program will receive daily after-school ensemble and orchestral instruction in their chosen instrument. The festival already supports two student orchestras that were created at William G. Hibbard Elementary School in the Albany Park neighborhood in 2010 in conjunction with the Women’s Board of Ravinia Festival and People’s Music School of Chicago.
Circle Rock students have already been involved in a variety of activities prior to the launch to prepare them for their new endeavor. At the end of the 2011-12 school year, Circle Rockets traveled to Hibbard Elementary to enjoy an orchestral performance and were able to interact with seasoned students and ask questions about the existing program at that school. In turn, Hibbard Elementary brought their student orchestra to Catalyst Circle Rock Charter School to perform for Circle Rock students and their families. The Ravinia Women’s Board hosted Hibbard and Circle Rockets students and parents at the festival for a Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert in July. Prior to the concert, kids took part in the festival’s “instrument petting zoo,” where they could try out instruments to find their favorites. Ravinia staff members also visited Circle Rock to assist in painting a new mural for their practice room.
Ravinia Festival connects music to thousands of families around Chicago through multi-tiered education programs beyond Sistema Ravinia, including a family music school in Lawndale, in-school training of teachers and students in public schools, and the Chicago-wide music appreciation program One Score, One Chicago. These programs, under the banner REACH*TEACH*PLAY, serve more than 75,000 people throughout the region. For more information visit Ravinia.org.