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Elementary students to perform with Kenai Peninsula Orchestra

Courtesy of Laura Norton

The Kenai Peninsula Orchestra will host two concerts this weekend that showcase the musical talent of elementary-aged school children. Through Carnegie Hall’s Link Up program, nearly 350 students from the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District will sing and play recorders to five songs alongside the orchestra.

Susan Biggs is the educational coordinator for the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra and former elementary music teacher with the district.

“It’s so cool for the kids to get to have a concert that is theirs, where an actual orchestra or symphony accompanies them," she said. "It’s not just that kids are sitting and listening to a concert by an orchestra, they’re participating. The kids have ownership of this concert, the orchestra’s playing for them, so it’s a whole different twist on educational programs with orchestras and symphonies.” 

Over 100 musical organizations around the world participate in the Link Up program each year. The Kenai Peninsula Orchestra has been participating in the program for nearly a decade. Songs to be performed at this weekend’s shows include the Latin classic “O Fortuna,” Carnegie Hall’s “Come to Play,” and Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Good.”

Biggs says this opportunity is not only important for students’ music curriculum, but for their brains and emotions.

“The first time we saw this being performed in New York City at Carnegie Hall, we saw a thousand children bouncing up and down in their seats, singing and dancing and playing instruments, and they were having a ball," she said. "They didn’t have to sit quietly with their hands in their laps, it was highly encouraged that kids have fun at the concert.”

The first concert in the local series will be held at 6 p.m. Friday at Homer Middle School in Homer. The Homer show will also feature student violin performances with the orchestra. The second concert will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday at Kenai Central High School.

Both concerts are free and open to the public, but donations are appreciated.

Hunter Morrison is a news reporter at KDLL