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Colorado Symphony Blog

Playing to Our Strengths

April 7, 2017

Playing to Our Strengths

“Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.”

Albert Camus

Early on a snowy January morning, Catherine Beeson — Director of the Colorado Symphony’s Education and Community Programs and our Assistant Principal Viola player — drove from Denver to Colorado Springs to accept the Colorado Music Educators Association’s 2017 Exemplary Service to Music Education Award.   

“It is humbling to be in a room full of people who take seriously our responsibility to foster creative thinking and growth through the performing arts,” Catherine said to the room full of musicians and teachers.  

Like so many other local music educators, Catherine — along with her fellow Colorado Symphony musicians and colleagues — work hard to supplement our local schools’ music education programs. 

It’s a cause we believe in, because we believe all students deserve the proven benefits of music education — and that the future of symphonic music depends on them. 

Music on Our Minds 

The rewards and decline of music education have been researched and reported for years, and the same conclusions are drawn time and again: early-age immersion in music improves test scores, enhances cognitive development, staves off mental decline in later years — the list goes on. Yet music programs in schools steadily dwindle as funds dry up and standardized testing remains in the foreground.  

MusiCurious and More: Lifelong Learning 

The Colorado Symphony’s own education programs are designed for learners from infancy to adulthood, with our MusiCurious program at the center of our efforts to support and supplement local schools’ music curricula. 

One of the Colorado Symphony’s most in-demand programs is Very Young Composers, which places Symphony musicians in schools to guide students in creating original compositions using sounds, feelings, story-telling, and basic music lessons. The pieces are then performed in the students’ schools, communities, and even at Boettcher Concert Hall. 

Other in-school programs like MathNotes and Music of Life teach music in context of math and natural sciences to grade-schoolers, and students of all ages receive in-school lessons from the Symphony’s Teaching Artists through our Master Mentorprogram. Our adult education efforts like pre-concert Preludes, post-concert Talkbacks, and Inside the Score — which is getting revamped and revitalized for the 2017/18 Season — continue the Colorado Symphony’s commitment to lifelong music education.

Your Presence Determines Our Future 

Any Symphony relies heavily on active audiences who are educated to appreciate the arts, and patrons who make charitable donations to sustain them. 

In our world, these are often the same people. And whether we call you donors, patrons, guests, or audiences, you are absolutely philanthropists, and you are directly involved in the life cycle of a Symphony. 

Like most orchestras, we raise more money than we earn — 57% of our budget relies on your charitable donations and sponsorships. 

At the start of the 2016/17 Season, the Colorado Symphony had the great fortune to announce we had gotten out of our long-standing deficit and begun a successful endowment campaign. 

“An endowment is essential to a Symphony’s longevity,” says Christina Carlson, the Symphony’s Chief Advancement Officer. “Think of an endowment fund like a long-term savings account, and an Annual Fund like a checking account: both are crucial to financial health — but the Symphony’s day-to-day operating budget relies directly on the Annual Fund.” 

In other words, our concerts, education programs, and musician and staff salaries are all largely funded directly by you. 

Stronger Together 

“I believe that philanthropy is the love of mankind and that it improves our own lives as much as the lives of others,” says Christina. “Philanthropy is a strengths-based pursuit. When you give to a cause you believe in, you, the donor — whether you’re giving your time, talent, or treasure — support your passions and what matters most to you. I love working with people and learning why they give. It’s an incredibly fulfilling journey of self-discovery.” 

Our plans for expanding our lifelong music education programs throughout our community are picking up fantastic momentum, especially as Brett Mitchell joins us as Music Director for the 2017/18 Season. He’s on a mission to make symphonic music more approachable through inventive repertoire and inspiring education for audiences of all ages. 

And when today’s music education is threatened, so is the future of your Symphony. Our longevity is as tied to the generosity of our donors as it is to each upcoming generation’s connection to the arts. 

As long as the Colorado Symphony has your loyal support, we can continue to educate the students in our community.  

Consider your causes, and the effects they have. Where do you see your Symphony in ten years? In fifty? 

And who’s going to be in the Hall? 

What’s your strength as a Symphony supporter? Contact Chief Advancement Officer Christina Carlson at or 303.308.2495.