Omaha Symphony Association, Inc. (Omaha, NE)

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Two female and two male string quartet members in performance

Omaha Symphony Association's string quartet performs in Minden, Nebraska, as part of their tour to rural communities. Photo by Jim Edgecombe

Founded in 1921, the Omaha Symphony annually presents approximately 60 performances, altogether reaching more than 300,000 patrons, including 40,000 students, pre-K through 12th grade who participate in the symphony's multiple education and outreach programs.  Omaha Symphony's annual tours provide a way to reach new audiences in areas where residents are unlikely to travel to large cities for concerts.  In addition, Omaha Symphony collaborates with Opera Omaha, providing music for four productions each year.

In FY 2005, the Omaha Symphony received an NEA Access to Artistic Excellence grant of $10,000 in support of a tour by the symphony's string quartet to three communities in rural western Nebraska: Minden, Cozad, and Grand Island.  In each community the symphony presented two evening community concerts in addition to providing in-school educational programs that reached approximately 350 students.  For Mission: Imagination, designed for students pre-K through 3rd grade, the musicians used rhythm and rhyme to showcase classic children's stories and poems.  At the end of the session, the students were invited to sing along with the music and conduct the musicians.  Another education program, In-School Ensembles, a hands-on workshops for students in pre-school through high school, allowed students to interact with the musicians and learn how the instruments work and how the musicians communicate with one another while performing. 

By creating an enthusiasm for music among the children, not only do more families attend the evening concerts, but more important, Omaha Symphony is cultivating an appreciation for and interest in classical music among students.

(From the NEA 2005 Annual Report)