Thanks to the generosity of our donors, the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies (CFA), provided a grant to the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra (JSO) to host the first Annual JSO on the GO Educational Ensembles Program (EEP). The EEP is an educational engagement initiative that seeks to foster musicality for students in participating school districts. The JSO’s goal in presenting the EEP is to interactively engage the students in the region in music education and generate lifelong musicians by inspiring them to take up and sustain a musical instrument.
“The goal is to embed the program in the music curriculum of school districts as a model for building relationships with other districts in the region. The Educational Ensemble Program (EEP) was a tremendous success in engaging students, and deepening our relationships with K-12 educators in the four-county region,” said Jo Novelli-Blasko, development associate for the JSO.
Four Somerset concerts took place on February 8 and 24, 2023. JSO on the GO! reached more than 630 K-12 students in Somerset County alone with performances at Conemaugh Township Elementary School, Turkeyfoot Valley Elementary School, Berlin Brothers, and Meyersdale. The EEP also performed at Westmont Hilltop Elementary, Cambria Heights High School, and Greater Johnstown Area High School.
Students responded positively and immediately to the concerts with great curiosity about what they were hearing and seeing. Feedback from the teachers was also very positive and they are already looking forward to next year when EEP will be more tightly coordinated with the JSO’s Young People’s Concerts, creating a richer context for a November field trip to the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center.
Where ever the EEP went, the audience was very enthusiastic about the JSP on the GO! ensemble concerts. There were follow-up questions and lots of interest in each of the instruments showcased in the performance. The EEP’s performance at the Johnstown High School offered some terrific evidence of its impact on the lives of young musicians. The brass quintet was performing alongside the band students, demonstrating an array of instruments that play in different keys, best practices for handling instruments, and modeling professional musicianship. “A young trumpet player became very curious about the piccolo trumpet; he was smitten by the scale and sound of it,” said Johnstown High’s School Band Director Eric Pfeil. “This young man wanted to pick up the piccolo trumpet as a result of hearing the musician’s demonstration.”
The JSO’s direct engagement with students is an invaluable asset to the community, generating enthusiasm, curiosity, excellence, and commitment in the region’s young people, enriching the cultural and educational landscape.