For many years the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra has provided accessible concerts with a lovely combination of the classic and the challenging. Living in the shadow of an internationally known school of music, the BSO plays an essential role in reaching out to the non-university-affiliated and in working with high school students to help them see how to keep music in their lives. In recent years, the concerts have been especially engaging and informative. The collaborations with other arts organizations, the players' enthusiasm for their conductor, and the great music they make together have been a truly wonderful gift from the orchestra to the community.
Wonderful music, wonderful people, wonderful experience for all who get to hear Bloomington Symphony play the programs they perform for Bloomington, Monroe County and surrounding areas. Small groups from the Symphony also bring performances to retirement communities for those who can't attend the entire Symphony performances. The small groups bring a special treat to all who get to hear them play. They are all very special people and performers. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
There are many great things you can say about the BSO: its broad repertoire, its high level of technical skill, and its professionalism in performance, to name a few. However, my favorite part of the orchestra is its heart. From the energy of the performances to their community outreach, the BSO brings a level of passion and personality that demonstrates that these musicians consider the group to be much more than a simple organization. I highly recommend that the community continued to attend its fantastic concerts, and that any interested musicians join! Ever since I moved away from Bloomington I have missed the BSO dearly.
It was my pleasure to have served the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra as first a Stage Manager and then as General Manager. In these capacities I witnessed firsthand the dedication of each of the volunteer musicians and board members. Not only do these musicians provide exquisite music for the residents of Bloomington at affordable concerts, they provide a free concert in the park for every citizen that chooses to experience a live symphony that they would otherwise not have the opportunity to enjoy. These concerts have been so successful that after a year experimentation of moving it to a more intimate location the city’s parks department chose to move it back to a larger location to accommodate all of the people that bring their whole families to enjoy the music in the park.
Additionally, this volunteer organization receives donated instruments, rehabilitates them and provides them to children along with lessons given for free by dedicated musicians. These children would have little to no ability to rent instruments or pay for lessons in their communities.
Furthering this mission the BSO, as it is fondly referred to, conducts “side by side” concerts in which children from the local schools play side by side with the orchestra members, providing them with an experience that they may never forget and inspires them. Not least the BSO provides a small prize to a local child who shows talent and dedication with their instrument of choice. Perhaps most notably a very young Joshua Bell was awarded this prize many years ago.
I reiterate that this is a volunteer orchestra, with musicians that are professional as well as those who have other careers yet play at a professional level. It is, in my opinion, a shining example of volunteerism in the arts community.