Fourth graders from across Sheboygan County converged on the Weill Center on Wednesday for a special Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra concert just for them.
"The tradition of giving children's concerts here in Sheboygan is so long that there have been over 39,000 children that have been able to come to the hall and hear the symphony," Kevin McMahon, music director and conductor of the Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra, said. "To me, educational programming and this aspect of what the symphony does is one of the most important things."
The orchestra played two shows, one at 9 a.m. and one at 10:30 a.m., and chose arrangements that highlighted the various sections of the orchestra. They also played larger pieces and an arrangement of "Old MacDonald" that used percussion instruments to mimic animal sounds.
"We try to choose music that not only teaches them things about the orchestra, and the different instruments and families in the orchestra, but also gives them very exciting and good music," McMahon said. "They learn to hear the individual sounds of the orchestra and get a chance to understand and hear the four families of the orchestra more clearly."
Throughout its history, the SSO mission has been to enrich the artistic lives of the community and the players, and to offer educational programs that foster music appreciation for adults and children.
A custom curriculum is provided to all educators which builds upon the experience once the children are back in the classroom.
Griffin Montes, a 12-year-old a violin player from Kohler, also won a concerto competition for the opportunity to play a solo during the concerts.
"I'm feeling a little nervous, but excited," Montes said before he went on stage.
McMahon said the concert is a rewarding experience for the orchestra.
"One of the great joys is when you receive an envelop from a school where the kids had taken time to write thank you cards and make art," McMahon said. "It means a lot to the symphony."
Reach reporter Phillip Bock at 920-453-5121, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @bockling on Twitter