Have you ever dreamed of playing with the Madison Symphony Orchestra? It’s a dream come true for nearly 1,800 area elementary students annually.

Every year the Madison Symphony Orchestra offers a series of Young People’s Concerts designed specifically to create exciting and impactful musical experiences for school-aged students. One of these concerts, Link Up, provides students in grades 3-5 with the unique opportunity to sing and play the soprano recorder with the orchestra from their seats in the Capitol Theater.

In 2013, the Madison Symphony Orchestra was invited to join a growing network of orchestras and educators around the world to implement Link Up, a highly participatory music education program created by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. The program pairs orchestras with area music teachers and their students throughout the school year as they explore orchestral repertoire through a hands-on curriculum. As a Link Up partner orchestra, the Madison Symphony provides the teachers with access to high-quality educational resources, including classroom materials, professional development, and a wealth of online resources, and at the end of the school year produces a culminating concert under the direction of guest conductor Randal Swiggum, Madison Metropolitan School District’s Arts Education Teacher Leader, who has led these concerts since their inception.

After months of preparation, the students arrive at the Overture Center with recorders in hand or slung around their necks, filled with excitement and ready to sing and play the recorder with the Madison Symphony Orchestra. The Link Up concert is an incredibly interactive and engaging experience for students, many of whom have never even heard a live orchestra concert and now have bragging rights to say that they have sung and played such works as Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony and Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” with the Madison Symphony Orchestra. Although the concert was cancelled this past season, the impact of the program’s rich year-long curriculum is held in high regard by music educators and school administrators with many teachers and even entire school districts returning year after year.

During the upcoming 20/21 season, the Link Up program will be implemented by more than 120 partner orchestras, serving approximately half a million students and teachers with partnerships spanning the US from Alaska to Florida, and reaching international organizations in New Zealand, Canada, China, Colombia, Japan, Kenya, and Spain. Students around the world will engage in the joy of live music performance and fulfill a dream of performing with a professional orchestra. In these extraordinary times, the inherent value of networks like Link Up become that much more apparent. As we begin our eighth season offering the Link Up program, the Madison Symphony Orchestra looks forward to ongoing partnerships with area schools as we continue our mission to produce high quality concerts to educate audiences of all ages.

For more information or to apply for the Link Up program visit: https://madisonsymphony.org/education-community/education-programs/young-peoples-concerts/link-up/

Photos from Link Up 2019