CHARLOTTE – The Charlotte Symphony and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are partnering to eliminate all fees for students who wish to participate in CMS’s All-County Honors Orchestra and Band.

The joint donation will remove all financial barriers that may have prevented students from taking part in the program, which includes two middle school orchestras, one high school orchestra, and one middle school band – made up of students throughout the county.

For more than 20 years, thousands of CMS students have enjoyed performing in the honors music programs alongside their peers from across the county.

A loss of funding from the nonprofit Charlotte Concerts in 2020 left the district no choice but to begin charging families a small per-student fee to participate, until the Charlotte Symphony and CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston stepped in.

Encouraging and creating opportunities for the next generation of musicians and music-lovers is a huge part of the Charlotte Symphony’s mission,” Charlotte Symphony President and CEO David Fisk said. “Financial status should never be a barrier for students to experience these vitally important music programs. We are so grateful to symphony supporters for making this gift possible and to Superintendent Winston for his leadership in matching our donation and keeping these programs freely available for all.”

It is so important that we support our students who excel in the performing arts,” Winston said . “Participation in this prestigious program is a reward for a job well done, and I am thrilled that we can make this happen for our families free of charge. I want to thank the Charlotte Symphony for its generous support and for encouraging our students to pursue their passion.”

The Charlotte Symphony has been serving CMS since the early 1950s, when it began offering weekday education concerts for schools. That tradition has continued over the past 70 years, including the pandemic when the Charlotte Symphony offered the virtual concert “One Musical Family” which reached over 17,000 CMS elementary school students.

For many years, symphony musicians have introduced students to orchestral instruments and repertoire, or used music to teach core subject matter, such as the history-based “Music and the Holocaust” program.

Charlotte Symphony musicians and conductors have provided hours of individual and group instrumental coaching in middle and high schools across the county, and since 2006 the Charlotte Symphony has partnered directly with Northwest School of the Arts to bolster the city’s only performing arts magnet.

Beginning in 2010 at CMS’s Winterfield Elementary, the Charlotte Symphony launched what would later become Project Harmony, a free after-school music program serving families who face challenges and seek to provide greater opportunities for their children. Today, that program serves more than 200 children, with plans to grow in the near future.

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