More than 550 elementary school students from across New Hampshire shared the stage with the world-class musicians of the New Hampshire Music Festival at the Silver Center for the Arts at Plymouth State University (PSU) on Wednesday, April 17, for the third annual Carnegie Hall “Link Up” concert. The concert saw students in third, fourth and fifth grade who have been learning to sing and play recorders at school join professional musicians to perform several songs.
Originally started at Carnegie Hall, Link Up is a participatory program in which students in grades three through five learn to sing and play an instrument in the classroom throughout the schoolyear, and then perform with a professional orchestra from their seats at a culminating concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City. The program has since expanded to include more than 110 partner orchestras throughout the world, including the New Hampshire Music Festival, serving approximately 450,000 students and teachers.
“The Link Up program is a great way to introduce kids to live music and to nurture their creativity,” said Lucinda Williams, Executive Director, New Hampshire Music Festival. “Integrating music into classroom curriculum has been shown to improve students’ self-esteem, listening and math skills, self-expression, and to relieve stress. Link Up provides the added reward of performing music they’ve learned with a live, professional orchestra – it is a transformative experience for the students, and the adults!”
The Carnegie Hall Link Up program is an important focus of the Festival’s education initiative and was first piloted at PSU in 2017; this year, 10 elementary schools from across New Hampshire participated in the program. Throughout the year, students explored music in the classroom, learning about instruments, composition and performances as part of the hands-on curriculum. This year’s program was funded by a grant from Lincoln Financial.
The Link Up program is just one of the ways in which the New Hampshire Music Festival and Plymouth State University are helping to expand classical music experiences and training for New Hampshire students. In its upcoming 67th season, the New Hampshire Music Festival will perform twice at the Curious George Cottage in Waterville Valley to bring music to families in fun and engaging ways.