When schools need to tighten their belts and pinch their pennies, music programs are tragically some of the first to be cut. But the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra’s Carter Center for Music Education & Performance, their community music school in East Providence, is working hard to provide for local families and music lovers of all ages. In November, the Center was recognized by the Champlin Foundation and awarded a $150,000 grant.
RI Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School is the country’s oldest, and largest, combined professional orchestra and community music school, and is the only local organization of its kind that balances education and performance in equal measure. The Carter Center first opened its doors in 2008, making this past year its tenth anniversary.
According to Executive Director David Beauchesne, “Rhode Island was the last state in the nation to have a community music school that qualified to be a member of the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts… It was clear that unless the orchestra stepped up, young people in Rhode Island would have no community-based music school and would face an opportunity gap relative to children growing up in other states.”
Today the Carter Center is a vibrant destination for music education, with around 1,500 students in the facility each week. The majority of the programs offered are designed for children ages five through 18 and include lessons on instruments, voice, group classes, and opportunities such as youth orchestras, jazz/rock bands, wind ensembles, and chamber music. They have also established school partnership programs such as Victoria’s Dream Project and Link Up, allowing fifth graders to perform with the Philharmonic Orchestra at The VETS each year, in addition to allocating $211,000 towards financial aid.
With the Champlin Foundation grant, the Center plans to invest in new technology and instruments, as well as maintenance. They will also be launching new performance collaborations – like their film to live orchestra initiative with PPAC – and are working to open a new Westerly branch of the Philharmonic School in 2020.