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Up Close & Musical
Up Close & Musical

Up Close & Musical

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Up Close & Musical® is a program of the Madison Symphony Orchestra that delivers the foundations of music to Dane County elementary schools each year. During the pandemic, we have been able to produce a virtual version of the program for the entire state of Wisconsin. But what is a foundation? The starting point for a journey. The introduction to a textbook on a complicated subject. The critical step in building a lifetime. A foundation gives us the tools we need to succeed in our endeavors to understand, to build, and to succeed. Music is profound — it speaks of strength, and beauty, and order. It gives us life when we are down. It propels us forward to achieve our dreams. Think about when you first noticed music: It was early — before you understood much else about life. Yet you understood intuitively what music was speaking to you. This is the purpose of the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Up Close & Musical program. In a very close and personal way, it introduces the foundations of music to young students, so these students are able to start building the tools they need to take full use of this resource we so often casually enjoy as entertainment. This can be a crucial resource to young students. This is much more than entertainment to them. This can be a lifeline — an inspiration to achieve their dreams. This can be an idea that propels them forward to achieve their purpose. 

Usually Up Close & Musical involves a string quartet visiting schools to share the foundations of music with students directly, but this year the program was not able to take place as it normally would. Because the content and purpose of the program were so important and in-demand from educators, the MSO was able to arrange a virtual production of the UC&M program that would reach students with the same content. Before the program was only available in Dane County schools, but now its content is available statewide. Nothing can replace the in-person sounds of the violin, viola or cello in the classroom, but now students from around the state are able to learn about music in a profound way. We look forward to continuing the new paths we have found during the pandemic, as well as the old paths we hold dear.

Learn more about our Education & Community Engagement Programs:


What does it mean to be connected? We have all reevaluated this during our pandemic year, as we have remained connected with people in some ways but lost so many of the connections we maybe took for granted and now miss dearly. Meaningful connection is critical to what it means to be human. But for a certain population it is more critical than all others — students in late elementary or middle school. Students in this group must have a connection to many others — their peers, their role models, their mentors and teachers — this is non-negotiable. The Link Up program, created by Carnegie Hall and produced by the Madison Symphony Orchestra, creates the connections that students need to further their educational and personal development. Usually students would learn music with voice and on recorder to be able to perform together with their peers from around the state and with the Madison Symphony Orchestra. This year, it is impossible for the orchestra and students to gather together but the MSO has produced a virtual concert that will link students with their peers virtually — as well as with orchestral musicians from around the world! This program and its modifications by Carnegie Hall and the MSO remind us that we can still find ways to be connected during this time of social distancing. The connections are never going to be the same as in-person performance and interaction, but sometimes there are opportunities we would have never found otherwise.

Learn more about our Education & Community Engagement Programs:

HOME IS WHERE THE ART IS Young Artist Series

Our latest addition features pianists Sophia and Jessica Jiang, sisters who have both performed as soloists with the Symphony in our Young People’s Competitions and Concerts. Most recently, they performed together with Jessica accompanying Sophia at The Final Forte on March 3, 2021. Sophia went on to win the competition! They share a duet — one of Dvorák’s four-handed Slavonic Dances — followed by a conversation.

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