LPONew Orleans, LA
By delivering site-specific programs to neighborhood residents in Orleans Parish at community (school) sites, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) are working to increase vibrancy in three diverse New Orleans communities: Algiers (L.B. Landry High School), Central City (Mahalia Jackson Early Childhood and Family Learning Center), and Lakeview (Edward Hynes Elementary Charter School). Neighborhood and school leaders are involved in identifying and selecting live, professional music and education experiences that best fit the needs of their neighborhoods.
ArtPlace spoke with LPO Managing Director Babs Mollere about the program.
ARTPLACE: What will be different in your community as a result of your work?”
MOLLERE: Our performances in these three communities illustrate the positive influence live music performances can have. At each site, we had an overwhelming majority of new listeners- people who had never heard an orchestra or individual orchestra musicians perform before. Having never experienced a large or even small scale orchestra, our audience had no prior knowledge of what to expect from an orchestra or how to interact with professional musicians. However, soon the students and community audience members displayed an obvious curiosity and interest for our musicians on stage and for a new form of music. For example, at Landry High School it was amazing to be in a situation where our audience was completely new to the orchestra. After experiencing only one performance, our adult audience expressed great interest in the LPO returning to the Algiers community to play.
Also, at Landry, we were also able to connect with the University of New Orleans Music Library to supply copies of the musical score Porgy and Bess to Landry high school students.
Moreover, the experience playing in these three communities had a positive impact on our orchestra. Before the Central City concert, there never had been an interaction with LPO and the Mardi Gras Indians on their turf at Mahalia.
However, the most significant difference was that each community asked us to return. Not only were these communities exposed to orchestral performance for the first time, but that experience resonated positively throughout the communities to such an extent that they want the LPO to perform again. The likelihood these community members would ever attend a theater performance is minimal. However, our work through the ArtPlace grant has helped us create a sense of public value for a residential professional orchestra to a broader part of the New Orleans community.