Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra

Progress of Grant Award programming

The original program plan prior to the pandemic was to present Symphony Storytime: STEAM Edition as an innovative and engaging learning opportunity for elementary students visiting the Orlando Science Center for school field trips. This program was to be centered on a space exploration theme maximizing the impact of the OSC’s existing exhibits and learning activities to provide a broad range of musical connections with the OPO. The book slated to provide context and a central story for the program was Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover by Markus Motum.

How the organization shifted their plans/programming due to pandemic circumstances:

Due to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the OPO and OSC have adapted the program strategies to implement Symphony Storytime: STEAM Edition. In response to the pandemic, Orange County Public Schools, along with several other Central Florida school districts, have cancelled all field trips for at least the first half of the year as part of their new safety protocols. Since the program was specifically designed to serve field trip classes, the program model was re-evaluated, determining that a virtual program would be the most effective course of action. The virtual program model will consist of three modules: an introduction and learning activity, story presentation by an engaging narrator with OPO musicians, then a follow up science learning activity. The three flexible modules allow teachers to implement the program across several days to accommodate existing classroom schedules.

The change to a virtual program also necessitated that a change the planned theme. While the original “space” theme would have successfully used existing OSC resources, the planned learning activities could not successfully translate to school and home learning environments. It decided to focus the new virtual Symphony Storytime: STEAM Edition around the science of sound, which would maximize the strengths of both the OPO and the OSC and work well for school and home learning.

The OPO is currently working with the publisher to secure rights to use Esquivel: Space Age Sound Artist by Susan Wood or Guitar Genius: How Les Paul Engineered the Solid Body Electric Guitar and Rocked the World by Kim Tomsic. Once rights are secured, the OPO will work with a composer to create a music score to enhance the integrated learning possibilities. 

When comprehensive planning is complete, OPO and OSC will record in November and release Symphony Storytime: STEAM Edition in December. Subject to the conditions of the publisher’s licensing agreement, the program will be shared broadly across Central Florida and beyond. By releasing the program in December, it will build on momentum of the OPO’s Young People’s Concerts which will be released in late November; these concerts reach more than 60,000 Central Florida students and teachers each year. 

Lessons learned from having to re-group which will help the organization going forward:

The change in presentation has allowed the OPO expand the reach of the program. OPO will partner with statewide arts education organizations to make this new program a resource for teachers and to a broader student audience across the State. The virtual Symphony Storytime: STEAM Edition will allows OPO to expand our reach and impact across Central Florida and beyond.