PSO Digital Concerts and Music Resources for School-Age Children Available to Educators at No Cost

For Immediate Release
February 4, 2021

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PITTSBURGH, PA—The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is sparking curiosity and joy in school-age children while exploring music concepts through “Virtual Schooltime,” a set of new concerts and music resources available at no charge to educators this winter and spring. 

“Virtual Schooltime” is a reinvention of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s traditional Schooltime concerts which each year typically welcome more than 20,000 elementary age children to enjoy live concerts at Heinz Hall, the orchestra’s home in downtown Pittsburgh. Schooltime concerts are traditionally offered at no cost to all schools and had to be cancelled for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year due to the COVID pandemic. 

“Every child deserves access to great music through live concert experiences. While we can’t be together at Heinz Hall for concerts this spring, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is no less committed to introducing students to the orchestra and nurturing a love of music.  Creating these virtual field trips and making them available at no cost to educators is an important investment in the future of the youngest members of our community,” said Melia Tourangeau, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. 

“Virtual Schooltime” is comprised of three units of music education for elementary students in grades PreK-6, and an additional unit of music education for students in grades 6-12. Units combine performances by PSO musicians and guest artists, and supplementary resources for extended learning. All programs are designed to meet children where they are in developmentally appropriate ways, align with state music standards, engage diverse audiences with classical music, and use the Orchestra as an asset in and for the community. 

Each unit will be made available at no cost to educators through a closed online platform hosted on the PSO website and will include supplementary resources for extended learning. Themes are intentionally spiraled across grades and offer flexible modules for teachers to tailor to student needs and learning environments. Programs are accessible for educators in grades PreK-12. Registration is required.

Pittsburgh Symphony Learning & Community Engagement programs are supported by generous grants from FedEx Ground, Equitrans Midstream Foundation, PPG, Henry C. Frick Educational Fund of the Buhl Foundation, Howard & Nell E. Miller Foundation, The Jack Buncher Foundation, Allegheny Regional Asset District, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community & Economic Development, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts 


GRADES PREK-1: Musical Storytelling 
How does music help to tell a story? Two newly recorded performances with the PSO address this question with readings of illustrated children’s books as read by guest narrators and brought to life with carefully selected orchestral music. Each performance demonstrates how music can help us better understand the characters, emotion, and plot of a story while also enhancing the early literacy skills of young learners.

Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant 
Now available through February 17, 2021 
Musical Storytelling 
Designed for grades PreK-1 
Vocalist Katy Williams narrates Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant, a whimsical collection of poems by Children’s Poet Laureate Jack Prelutsky with illustrations by Carin Berger. Music composed and arranged by Lucas Richman. Conductor: Vinay Parameswaran 

Available February 16, 2021 – March 17, 2021 
Musical Storytelling
Designed for grades PreK-1

Ayisha Morgan-Lee, founder and CEO of Pittsburgh’s Hill Dance Academy Theatre, will read Misty Copeland’s new book Bunheads, which tells the story of a young Misty—who went on to become the first African American Female Principal Dancer with American Ballet Theatre—and her early experiences with ballet. 

GRADES 1-3: Meet the Orchestra
How do different instruments make sound? The PSO explores each instrument family of the orchestra through a series of chamber performances, demonstrations, and interviews with individual PSO musicians. The unit includes newly recorded performance footage and curated archival excerpts from Front Row: The PSO Virtual Experience that together illuminate the unique characteristics and sound production of the many instruments that make up a symphony orchestra.

Meet the Orchestra 
Available March 1, 2021 – March 30, 2021 
Designed for grades 1-3

GRADES 4-6: Musical Composition 
How is music created? A multifaceted look at the creative process by which orchestral music is composed, this unit features performances of contemporary compositions and works by living composers, details about the composition process, composer interviews, and insight from PSO musicians about the experience of preparing a new piece of music for its premiere.

The Composer’s Process 
Available April 12, 2021 – May 11, 2021 

GRADES 6-12: Chamber Music 
How is chamber music made? From the French word chambre, meaning room, chamber music was composed for smaller ensembles of musicians that needed to fit into rooms like parlors and palace chambers. Resident Conductor Earl Lee hosts a two-part exploration of this particular musical form, featuring newly recorded performances of works by Byrd, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Bach, and Mozart; interviews with PSO musicians; and resources to discover more about the history, structure, and evolution of chamber music.

Playing Together
Available February 8, 2021-March 9, 2021

Marvelous Mozart
Available March 15, 20201 – April 13, 2021 


About PSO Schooltime Concerts 
Schooltime Concerts are one component of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Learning & Community Education programs, which also include Fiddlesticks Family Concerts, Student Side-by-Side Concerts, Coach & Play, neighborhood partnerships, community collaborations (like PSO@City of Asylum) and Music & Wellness (including sensory friendly concerts). The Schooltime Concert program enables students in early childhood through high school to hear the music of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, interact with the PSO musicians, and have high quality music learning experiences. Exposure to the PSO, Heinz Hall, and classical music provide critical interactions for early childhood learners and as students grow and mature, programs deepen and evolve along the lifespan continuum.  

About the Artists 

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra 
Vinay Parameswaran 
Earl Lee 
Lucas Richman 
Rodrigo Ojeda 
Katy Shackelton Williams 
Ayisha Morgan-Lee

Media Contacts
Julie Goetz | Director of Communications
jgoetz@pittsburghsymphony.org | 412.392.4866 or 412.905.9058 (mobile)