Education and Community Engagement Programs


Young People's Concerts  |  Master Classes  | Generations in Unison |  Open Rehearsals  |  School Residencies  |  Total Quality Music  |  Harmony Project  |  Community Events


ECE Program Descriptions | VSO Specialty Ensemble Programs

See where music will take you.

The Virginia Symphony Orchestra's Education and Community Engagement Department touches the lives of over 100,000 people per season through concerts,lectures and presentations, in-school-residences, master classes, open rehearsals, student performances, collaborations with other organizations and an array of community engagement programs. We believe that the impact of these programs will build future audiences and musically enrich the lives of the very young and young at heart. The sound of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, through its education and community engagement programs, is heard throughout the Hampton Roads community as well as various venues within the Commonwealth of Virginia. See where the music takes you. Come as you are. Leave changed. 


          Young People's Concerts 

The Young People's Concert series is an integral part of the Symphony's education program. Annually, the Virginia Symphony reaches over 25,000 students in eleven different school districts as well as students in private schools and home school environments. The goals of these concerts are to (1) introduce symphonic music, (2) introduce the instruments of the orchestra and (3) tie musical arts to the schools' core curriculum supporting the Virginia State Standards of Learning.

The 2016-2017 Young People's Concert series will feature Carnegie Hall's "Link Up" program, which will engage students by encouraging them to play instruments and sing along with the orchestra from their seats. Information and activities for the Young People's Concerts are made available before the concerts via the VSO website in the form of a student guide, downloadable music, and classroom presentation resources.

Of the 26 Young People's Concerts we are performing this season, 5 concerts are available for group reservations:

Sandler Center, Virginia Beach Ferguson Center, Newport News Chrylser Hall, Norfolk
.   .

Click here to make a reservation.

Because students are encouraged to sing or play along from their seats, we recommend beginning preparation 3 – 4 months before attending the concert using the Student Workbook, Teacher Guide, and Listening Tracks below. Professional development for teachers using the Link Up curriculum will made available throughout the school year. For more information, please contact Christy Havens at

In order to access Carnegie Hall's materials online, you must first create a free login here.

DOWNLOADS/LINKS:    (Please note that these songs will not be inclued in the concert: "To Make Words Sing" and "Oye")      

Link Up "The Orchestra Sings" Student Workbook               
Link Up "The Orchestra Sings" Teacher Guide
LinkUp "The Orchestra Sings" Listening Tacks
Flyer and Concert Dates
Repertoire List


Become a volunteer!
The Virginia Symphony needs your help! Volunteers at each of our 26 performances lead students in participation, act as ushers, and direct students from the buses into the hall. If you are interested in joining the VSO team, click here to sign up. For a full concert schedule, click here


          Master Classes


Each season, the Education and Community Engagement Department holds Master Classes that feature VSO guest artists and VSO musicians. Participating students have the opportunity to experience the hands-on nature of these unique classes where private music lessons go public. Selected students will play for and be critiqued by the Featured artist. The perspectives offered by these world-class artists inspire participants and audience members alike.

FREE admission, open to the public, no reservation required.

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          Open Rehearsals

Various schools and community groups are invited to observe the orchestra's working rehearsals. These rehearsals offer an intimate view of the musicians and conductor in the artistic process of preparing a concert.

Contact Christy Havens at for future available dates and more information.

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          Generations in Unison

 Generations in Unison is an interactive music therapy-informed program which provides a vital resource to facilities which serve aging populations and to adults living with dementia. In 2017, a professional VSO string quartet will visit the Warwick Forest Retirement Community in Newport News, performing therapeutic music while residents participate in activities which strengthen fine motors skills, stimulate memory, increase blood flow, elevate mood, exercise cognitive functions and provide beneficial audial and visual stimulation. Students from VSO partner schools are encouraged to volunteer during these sessions, passing out and collecting instruments, encouraging and facilitating participation, and playing alongside the VSO musicians. By bringing generations together, the VSO hopes this program will help enrich and strengthen the Hampton Roads community.

          School Residencies

The School/Orchestra Artistic Residency (SOAR) program allows students the opportunity to create in-depth interactions between themselves and the professional musicians of the VSO through mentorship and coaching. Students are also able to attend VSO concerts, usually at no charge.

Other programs available under the SOAR program are Small Ensemble Specialty Programs. Specialty programs utilize two to five VSO musicians in settings which allow children and adults alike to explore the various aspects of music through the musicians' performances and question and answer sessions. These programs are 45 minutes to one hour in length. These programs include:

  • Meet the Families - This program showcases four VSO musicians who tell about their "family" of instruments - brass, woodwinds, strings, percussion - and play short engaging pieces. Appropriate for grades 1st through 4th.
  • Come Blow Your Horn - Great for Pre-K through 2nd graders, this dynamic french horn duo will captivate their young audience!
  • Big Bad Musical Wolf - Using special musical arrangements specifically created for this program, the flautist, bassoonist, trombonist, and double bassist take students through the stories of the Three Little Pigs, Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf" and a musical story from the Wolf's point of view entitled "B.B. Wolf" by Jon Deak.
  • From Bach to Beatbox - Take a ride through musical history and explore music by Vivaldi, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Copland, even The Beatles and more!
  • Aesop's Fables - Along with violin and cello, these fables come alive through live narration.
  • Professional Development Program (PDP) - The focus of this program is to reach music educators who want more information about instrumental pedagogy. In a relaxed setting, VSO musicians share their expertise and insight on teaching young instrumentalists.

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          Total Quality Music

This program allows Norfolk Public School students to attend a Virginia Symphony Orchestra concert without paying for the tickets after experiencing a Young Audiences of Virginia program at their school.

For more information please contact Danielle F. Roby, at 757-852-4674 option 7 or by email at

Total Quality Music is sponsored through the generosity of the Minette and Charles Cooper Concerts Endowment.

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          Harmony Project


Based on the belief that music is an excellent way to bring people together, during the 2006-2007 season, the VSO debuted the HARMONY Project. The HARMONY Project is a long-term initiative that creates reciprocal relationships between the VSO and historically black churches in the Hampton Roads communities. The HARMONY Project is specifically designed to meet the interest of each church congregation and its worship context.

The Project encompasses three components:

  1. As part of the church's regular worship service, VSO ensembles will accompany the church's musicians in playing the congregational hymns or other service music in addition to playing selected ensemble pieces as part of the service. Often these pieces tie into a church's celebratory theme or liturgical calendar event.
  2. VSO musicians and/or ensembles present a program to the church's children's/youth ministry or to its school. In these sessions young people are introduced to orchestral instruments, hear the musicians share about his/her career as a musician and experience live orchestral music in an "up close and personal" setting.
  3. A Community Concert featuring VSO musicians playing in a concert setting at one of the HARMONY church venues. These concerts allow all the HARMONY Project church congregations to come together for a time of hearing beautiful music as a community.

Currently, 11 churches participate in the HARMONY Project:


Chesapeake Hampton Virginia Beach
First Baptist South Hill Sixth Mt. Zion Baptist Church Union Baptist Church
Norfolk Portsmouth Newport News
Bank St. Memorial Baptist Church  St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church Carver Memorial Presbyterian Church
Calvary Revival Church   First Baptist Church Denbigh
First Baptist Church – Bute St. Suffolk  
Second Calvary Baptist Church East End Baptist Church  

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          Community Events


Young People's Concerts  |  Master Classes  |  Open Rehearsals  |  School Residencies  |  Total Quality Music  |  Harmony Project  |  Community Events