June 17, 2005



Portland, Ore. … The American Symphony Orchestra League presented its 2005 MetLife Award for Excellence in Community Engagement to the Oregon Symphony on Friday, June 17, during the league’s national conference in Washington, D.C.

One orchestra in each of the league’s three budget categories is honored; the Oregon Symphony is the largest budget orchestra recognized and was honored for its Community Music Partnership. The MetLife Foundation has presented a cash award of $7,500 to each of the recipients; the Symphony’s award will be matched by a challenge grant from the James S. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.

The MetLife Award recognizes the success of the Oregon Symphony's Community Music Partnership, created to bring cultural enrichment to rural communities in the state with populations of 30,000 or less. Here the younger sister of a Hillcrest Elementary student in North Bend, Ore., has her first big drum experience during the Symphony's January residency as part of a two-year Community Music Partnership with the North Bend School District and the Oregon Coast Music Association.

The Symphony’s innovative Community Music Partnership, created to bring cultural enrichment to rural communities in the state with populations of 30,000 or less, was singled out for this honor. “This award is a tribute to the organization and the important work we do in serving the state,” says Michael Kosmala, Vice President of Education and Community Engagement. “It acknowledges the quality and impact of the CMP and demonstrates that this program can be replicated by orchestras across the country.”

Partner communities for the CMP are selected through a competitive application process, and the orchestra’s presence in that community over a two-year period is tailored to meet the community’s specific needs. Year one of the partnership consists planning, staff development, multiple musician visits, a full-orchestra community concert, and two full-orchestra youth concerts; in year two the orchestra works with the community to refine sustainability plans established at the partner schools. The North Bend School District 13, in collaboration with the Oregon Coast Music Association, was selected as partner for 2004-2006.

National orchestra programs are evaluated according to their effectiveness in community involvement; their ability to strengthen the orchestra’s role as a “cultural citizen” in the community; their success in building partnerships with other organizations; their innovative approach to building diversity in the audience; their measurable results and their usefulness as models for possible replication by other orchestras. Orchestras of all sizes operating within the 50 states and the District of Columbia were considered for the award.

The other recipients of the 2005 ASOL Excellence in Community Engagement award include the Charlotte Symphony in North Carolina and the Tehachapi Community Orchestra in California.

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