For 33 years the Camden County branch of AAUW has been taking 100 Camden children a year to the five Saturday morning subscription series children’s concerts by the Philadelphia Orchestra.
A few weeks before each of the concerts in the 2000/2001 season, Art Aware and AAUW members visited the classrooms with an art activity which supplemented the music the students would hear at each concert.
Prior to the January 6th concert featuring Aaron Copeland’s “Appalachian Spring”, the Education Department of the Philadelphia Orchestra sponsored a photo contest in which subscribers were supposed to send in snapshots of children posing with their favorite “simple gift” (the theme of a part of the music). Art Aware/AAUW had 4th graders from Cramer School draw their favorite simple gift and then took photos of them with their drawings. The winning photos were to be shown on large screens at the Academy of Music while the Philadelphia Orchestra played the theme.
Every photo we submitted to the contest won!
What follows are two written accounts of the experience.
What an Experience - #1
The Philadelphia Orchestra played Copeland’s “Simple Gifts” on the stage at the PA Academy of Music while close-up, individual photos of twelve Cramer 4th graders holding up a drawing of a simple gift were shown on huge screens on both sides of the proscenium.
Each photo was shown for a full ten seconds before moving on to the next one.
It seemed as if there were a thousand children and adults in the concert hall looking at the students in Ms. Seidan’s class holding up his or her beautiful artwork.
High up in the ampitheatre sat the students from Cramer Elementary School taking it all in – seeing themselves and their friends on the screen in partnership with the Philadelphia Orchestra performing way down below on the stage.
The feeling of collaboration ws awesome! Cramer students participated with the Philadelphia Orchestra in illustrating Copland’s music. Then there were members of AAUW who bought the tickets, and Art Aware, who initiated the artwork and the music teacher from Cramer School who coached the students……all together under the same roof in the magnificent Academy of Music.
What an experience!
What an Experience #2
In 4th grade, I went to a concert for the first time in my life. It was on a Saturday morning. The Philadelphia Orchestra performed. I sat with my classmates high up in the theatre. It was so high and the stops were so steep, I was afraid to walk down to my seat, so I bumped down on my rear end…
A few months before, my teacher and some guest teachers had us listen to some music that was going to be played at the concert – Aaron Copeland’s “Appalacian Spring” – that part which became the song “Simple Gifts.”
While we were listening to the music, we were told to draw our “favorite simple gift.” I drew a flower.
Then the teachers took a photograph of each of us holding up our finished artwork to send into the Academy of Music – for the contest they were having.
…the lights dimmed in the theatre. The musicians looked like puppets on the stage so far away. We were on the top of a mountain - in the ampitheatre.
On either side of the proscenium were two large screens. When the orchestra started playing “Simple Gifts,” on both of the large screens – bigger than life – were shown pictures of a girl holding up her artwork. It was one of my classmates! Then came another slide on the two screens – another classmate! And then THERE I WAS on these huge screens, in this huge Academy of Music, holding up my yellow and red flower – with such a happy face!
I looked so good – my artwork looked so good . I never looked so good. My artwork never looked so good! Was that because so many people were looking at it!?
Every photo that the teachers had sent in had been chosen as a winner in the photo contest and was shown in the darkened Academy of Music while the Philadelphia Orchestra played.
It was awesome!
Me and my classmates
in that huge place in the middle of all that music. It made us
about being part of another kind of world from the one we had come from.
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31 December 2002, Updated 19