The Philharmonic Association has been a valuable asset to the Triangle’s young people for over twenty years. This group helps to foster and nurture the love of great music in young musicians by sponsoring five musical ensembles: three full symphony orchestras, a jazz ensemble, and a newly formed string orchestra. The groups include young musicians of varying skill level who benefit from studying and performing classical music.
Hugh Partridge, the organization’s artistic director and a former principal violist with the North Carolina Symphony, spoke of the many opportunities this group provides the Triangle’s young people: “I think these students learn lifelong lessons from being involved in a performing ensemble. They are part of a team, a team that plays great music, and that’s so important because music has the power to stir our emotions more than any other art. This is an opportunity that isn’t offered anywhere else in our community,” Partridge said that in his twenty years with the Philharmonic Association, he has witnessed many young people go on to do all kinds of wonderful things. “Some are playing in major orchestras. Others have teaching positions. Some are doctors and lawyers, but I think all of them can attribute a good deal of their success to the many skills they learned playing music.”
The Philharmonic Association has grown significantly since its humble beginning in early 1988 when 35 young musicians formed an orchestra and invited Partridge to be their conductor. By the mid 90’s, there was so much interest in the program that a second orchestra was formed, and the growth just continued from there. To date, it has given approximately 1500 aspiring public school aged musicians an opportunity to perform over 500 of the world’s greatest classical works and currently serves over 300 young people in the Triangle each year.
With all this growth the Association has set their sights on one day being able to open a Center for Youth Music and accommodate even more of the Triangle’s young musicians. Currently, the Association meets and practices in the public schools. Though the schools make a great effort to accommodate the Association, they have gradually become able to do less and less. “The problem is that we’ve grown so much and so has our need for rehearsal space and room for sectionals with North Carolina Symphony musicians and small ensembles. The schools have been very generous, but as these problems of space continue, my concern is we won’t have as much ability to serve as we have in the past. We’d have to cut back when we need to expand,” Partridge said. He feels that a dedicated rehearsal facility would provide the organization with much needed space and also allow them to fill other niches in the arts that aren’t going to be available elsewhere.
“A Center for Youth Music can be built many different ways – it can come from small donations, but usually what happens is that you find someone who has the ability to put up a large sum of money that we could try and match. Right now, we’re in the stage of trying to identify someone who could help and get the campaign really started. That’s when the five and ten dollar donations that people are giving is going to become very important. We have had so many parents and volunteers give significant amounts of money to the building fund, but we need that one donor to come along and really believe in this project.”
Partridge also noted that he performed in a youth orchestra throughout his childhood and that almost every professional orchestral player performed in a youth orchestra at some point. Obviously, the Philharmonic Association is meeting an important need in the Triangle, and one can only hope that they will be able to continue doing so.
For more information on the Philharmonic Association or to make a contribution to the building fund, please visit http://philharmonic-association.org/ or call 919-645-8434.