The Jacksonville Symphony Society hosts around 1,000 elementary students annually at the free Youth Concert held at MacMurray’s Anne Merner Chapel. The concert repertoire is designed to appeal to students in the 3rd, 4th and 5th grade who are just beginning to develop an interest in music and musical instruments. Elementary teachers provide classroom instruction prepping the students for what they will see at the concert, and the proper etiquette for attending a symphonic concert event. Following the concert teachers provide additional classroom instruction to discuss what the student experienced. Students are encouraged to pick a favorite instrument to follow at the concert and to report back what they saw. Many students will take up playing an instrument and participate in the school band, or concert.
With over 60% of area students from families deemed economically disadvantaged, the symphonic concert is often the only lifetime opportunity for many children to experience live classical music.
The Youth Concert has served over 20,000 students over its 30 plus years of existence and it is not unusual to hear from adults who remember the Youth Concert as the beginning of their life long enjoyment of classical music.