‘College Connections’ program brings St. Louis Symphony musicians, area students together at Touhill

St. Louis Symphony "College Connections"

Musicians from the St. Louis Symphony perform “L’Histoire du Soldat” during a free concert Friday at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center. The performance was part of the symphony’s “College Connections” program. (Photos by Steve Walentik)

More than 100 high school and middle school students from the Bayless and Ferguson-Florissant school districts were treated to a free concert by musicians from the St. Louis Symphony last Friday at the University of Missouri–St. Louis as part of the symphony’s “College Connections” program.

UMSL music majors and community members joined the students at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center as Shawn Weil (violin), Mary Reed (double bass), Scott Andrews (clarinet), Vincent Karamanov (bassoon/contrabassoon), Ian Kivler (trumpet), Amanda Stewart (trombone) and Alan Stewart (percussion) performed Igor Stravinsky’s “L’Histoire du Soldat” (The Soldier’s Tale).

“As the E. Desmond Lee Endowed Professor of Music Education, I am always thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with the St. Louis Symphony and the other fine St. Louis art agencies,” Michael Smith said.

He directs the Des Lee Fine Arts Education Collaborative, which presented the concert.

Symphony "College Connections" crowd

High school and middle school students from Bayless and Fergusson-Florissant school districts fill the front rows of the E. Desmond and Mary Ann Lee Theater during Friday’s St. Louis Symphony “College Connections” event.

The high school and middle school students began their visit to campus by listening to a presentation from members of the UMSL Admissions staff, and they toured part of North Campus.

Before the concert, Smith and Associate Teaching Professor Gary Brandes and Teaching Professor Jim Widner took turns sharing information about UMSL music programs, including upcoming summer camps the students can take part in.

The students’ visit concluded with a pizza lunch after the concert.

“The Collaborative is dedicated to providing excellent educational experiences that focus on quality artistic experiences,” Smith said. “Today’s event provided just such a learning experience for both our own UMSL students and also the students from the visiting Des Lee Fine Arts Education Collaborative middle and high school partner schools.

“In addition, my music department colleagues were able to share about a number of summer camp and other music-making opportunities here on campus, and UMSL admissions department did a terrific job of helping these youngsters begin to develop a vision of what it is like to be a university student and to begin to find a pathway toward that vision.”

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