Pensacola has long been a community of philanthropy and service; a city rich with nonprofits creating a quality of life that many in cities around the country only dream of. We have organizations that build homes for the needy, provide food for those on hard times, work to heal abused children, and employ those with developmental disabilities, just to name a few. We also have a dozen arts organizations that work diligently to share music, drama, art, and dance with our community to lift us up and remind us of our shared humanity.
We’ve been privileged to perform for Pensacola for nearly a century (it’s true, we just closed our 90th season this year!). We’ve spent years performing on the main stage of the Saenger Theatre and large venues for audiences large and small, but we know that there’s more that we can do. So, the PSO sat down 2 years ago with the leading music engagement consultant in the country and asked “what are the needs in our community?”
And when asking this question, we received more answers than we could have imagined. We met with school teachers, hospital leaders, young professionals, local officials, and more. It was exciting and refreshing to see so many people with a vision for this community. We began to explore various ways in which the PSO could be responsive to these needs in the community.
Those meetings brought to life a rich new program full of passion for Pensacola that we couldn’t have created on our own. It was with the support of people and tremendous organizations that we arrived at a new engagement strategy to serve people through music. It sounds simple, but it is a re-imagining of what is possible through an organization like the PSO, known for our concerts. Fundamental to our plan is the desire to bring music “Beyond the Stage,” to our community in many settings and to do so repeatedly. Rather than trying for maximum exposure to music as a one-time experience, we want to build relationships through repeated interactions. Our musicians are invested in this process and bring tremendous creativity and passion to the programs. They’ve undergone training to help focus their presentations and hone their communication.
On any given week, you’ll find musicians from the PSO at one of our partner organizations. On a Tuesday, you may find them at Sacred Heart Children’s hospital playing for kids in the new playroom. Afterward, they often travel to other rooms to share music with the kids who are unable to get to the playroom. On a Wednesday, you may find them performing in one of the waiting rooms at Nemour’s Children’s Specialty Care helping to relieve the stress of those waiting for their appointments. On a Saturday, you’d likely find some of our musicians working with the Belmont Youth Band teaching their students music on a very practical level. Musicians also visit Covenant Hospice to play for families and loved ones in end-of-life care. Most recently, a regular partnership with Tate High School and Ransom Middle School orchestra programs has helped them to compete on the state level and receive Superior ratings – which only 9 of the 51 schools competing received. A few weeks ago, a woodwind trio from the PSO gave a performance at Artel Gallery that featured music inspired by their new exhibition. These programs are provided free of charge to the partners through the generous support that people like you entrust to the PSO.
We started 18 months ago and are already growing and getting better through help from our amazing partners and musicians. We can’t wait to share more stories from these partnerships and more as we progress.
Check out #psobeyondthestage on Instagram and Twitter to catch what’s going on with this program throughout the year.