Just ahead of the Savannah Philharmonic's 10th season, the city’s lone symphony has taken possession of its birthplace.
In the ensemble’s 10th-year program, they’ve marketed themselves as "Savannah’s Philharmonic," to better advertise the core mission of enhancing their home city through orchestral music and education. An integral part of that mission includes community engagement.
Last year, they held their inaugural Philharmonic in the Streetz event, where members of the ensemble play an outdoor, family-friendly concert focused on enriching one neighborhood in Savannah. This year's event is set for 1-4 p.m. May 20.
“Phil in the Streetz really came about when our organization wanted to expand our audience and appreciation for what we do,” Savannah Philharmonic Executive Director Terri O’Neil said. “It’s kind of like if you can’t get them to come to you, take the music to them ... We’re a cultural, educational and economic asset. The Phil in the Streetz is just another way that we give back and raise awareness of how all the dots are connected.”
This year, Philharmonic principal second violinist Ricardo Ochoa will be joined by his friends for a performance. Chorus member Laiken Love and the Fellowship of Love will also play, along with students from Myers Middle School. Magic Marc will be on hand with some live magic. Trick’s will have barbecue for sale, and Bruster’s will provide complimentary ice cream.
“It’s really, again, an opportunity to bring elements of classical music, or musicians who perform throughout different genres, and take it to different neighborhoods that you don’t otherwise connect with,” O’Neil said.
New for its second year, the Philharmonic has teamed up with a pair of entities to help produce the event. Philharmonic in the Streetz qualified for a new funding program provided by the City of Savannah to not-for-profit programs with economic impact and neighborhood development aspects. The Philharmonic also teamed up with the Edgemere/Sackville Neighborhood Association, where the event will take place this year.
“When I wrote the funding, we already worked with neighborhood associations, so I said let’s broaden that aspect,” O’Neil said. “It’s being produced and presented by the Savannah Philharmonic, but also being partnered and funded by the City of Savannah, and our logistics partner is the Edgemere/Sackville Neighborhood Association. They are one of Savannah Shines neighborhoods. I think it’s going to get a lot of good visibility with the partnerships where we can come together and provide something that’s really meaningful to the citizens.”
The Philharmonic in the Streetz program also has an educational component. Each year, the Philharmonic reaches out to area schools closest to where the event will be held through their Orchestra Lab program. Myers Middle School will have students from their Orchestra Lab program performing this year.
“Our Orchestra Lab, it’s to develop the next generation of music enthusiasts, and beyond that, it’s really to help develop the next generation of musicians,” O’Neil said. “Philharmonic in the Streetz is a multifaceted opportunity for our city's residents, our organization and our musicians. Live music is a common denominator; it brings us all together. What we’ve done within our organization to fulfill our mission is to put programs together like this where we touch as many people as we can.
“I struggle not to use the word diversity. Diversity to me is a segregation. I want to be inclusive. I want everybody to have access to it. I don’t want to define my audience by age, gender, race, ethnicity. I want our audience to be inclusive. If we take the music to the people, we’ve expanded our audience to include a new group of folks.”