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The Pensacola Symphony Builds a Musical "Eco-System" to Promote Community Well-Being

By S. Mathur

The mission statement of the Pensacola Symphony is succinct and profound at the same time: "To promote the well being of the Greater Pensacola community through excellence in live symphonic music and lifelong learning through engaging musical activities." How can musical activities promote the well being of an entire community? Executive Director Bret Barrow is a believer: "Our goal is to cultivate the musical "eco-system" by connecting students to our musicians and building a new generation of music lover.

We believe strongly in the benefits of music performance and practice. There are so many benefits to music education that are lifelong and transcendent. It would be a true shame not to make those benefits available to the community we cherish....Our purpose is to improve the well-being of our community through live symphonic music. It is rooted in a commitment to lifelong learning through engaging musical activities. The community is our mission."

The many ways in which the Pensacola Symphony brings music to the community goes well beyond the concept of "outreach". The musicians are skilled performers and educators, and special training helps them to connect with audiences and the community. Barrow is justifiably proud of the Symphony's contribution.

"For example, we now serve children through music in schools, neighborhoods, and in hospitals. We have connected with some amazing partner organizations to pilot these programs. Programs like the Belmont Youth Band provides free instruments and instruction to children in a community center. Our musicians augment their instructional faculty by providing group lessons and mentorship. In Sacred Heart Children's Hospital, we share music with the pediatric inpatients and their families by telling stories and hands-on "instrument petting zoos." It lends them a sense of normalcy and fun while they undergo significant periods of treatment. We work to provide musical activities to patients in Nemours Children's Clinic to reduce anxiety and provide positive stimulation. These activities demonstrate how powerful and wonderful music can be in the lives of people. To make someone's life better through music is a real honor and a privilege- one that we don't take lightly."

The Pensacola Symphony is an essential part of the vibrant aesthetic and cultural life in the downtown area. The finest musicians and Maestro Peter Rubardt make Symphony performances a not-to-be-missed event, for area residents and visitors alike. Visiting guest performers bring the best in the world of music to audiences. According to Barrow, "The Pensacola Symphony will perform downtown eleven times between October 2015 and May 2016 with concerts ranging from music of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, to the music of Billy Joel and Elton John, or even symphonic music with acrobats from Cirque de la Symphonie. There's something for everyone at the Pensacola Symphony."

The historic Saenger Theatre, built in the Spanish Baroque style in the 1920s, is the home of the Pensacola Symphony. Now extensively renovated, its elegant facade and interiors provide a suitable setting for the music.

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