Throughout this 2014-2015 season we have celebrated the Symphony Orchestra Guild of Decatur’s 40th anniversary. The guild was incorporated in September 1974 by a visionary group of founders who recognized that the Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra needed a support system.
How our activities have grown over those 40 years! Here are some highlights:
Financial support for the orchestra continues to be our highest priority. Again this April the guild will present its annual gift to Millikin – a check for $65,000 – which provides the orchestra’s music and enables Dr. Luxner to hire professional musicians, both faculty and free-lance, and guest artists.
Helping fund the Decatur Youth Symphony is one of many ways the guild supports young musicians. Initiated some 20 years ago, the youth symphony provides students a full orchestral experience and advanced performing opportunities. In 2012 the youth symphony officially became part of the Millikin Preparatory Department and added a junior ensemble for middle school students. Dr. Neal Smith is the director.
Music scholarships for both summer music camps and private lessons with a Millikin faculty member – are a centerpiece of the guild’s music education efforts. The number of scholarships available each year has grown to well over 20, and includes renewal of first-year scholarships.
An instrument lending library puts music in the hands of elementary students who otherwise could not participate in school band or orchestra. In 2008 the guild began collecting used instruments that could be refurbished, and by 2009 nearly 50 instruments were available for loan. The collection now numbers 250 instruments and is a partnership between the guild and the Decatur Public Schools Foundation.
Programs for local schools introduce beginners to various instruments and pique their interest in music. Instrument ‘petting zoos’ allow youngsters to hold various instruments, and performances by professional musicians expose students to a wide variety of musical styles.
Symphony in the Community, launched this season to make performances of instrumental and symphonic music more widely available, will pay half the cost of hiring MDSO musicians for approved performances.
On behalf of the entire board of directors, I extend a sincere ‘thank you’ to all who support the guild and make these many programs possible. Your generosity provides a wonderful gift of music to the Decatur area!
President, Symphony Orchestra Guild of Decatur