How youth symphony raised funds for London concert and tour

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

Performing requires high school musicians to hit all the right notes and show up for rehearsals on time. In the Glendale area, resourceful students have also learned to be fund-raisers, admen, direct-mail experts, and entrepreneurs.

When the money for music programs dried up, high schools could no longer support individual orchestras. Classes were canceled. But before all batons were laid down there came a solution: Create a District Symphony, which would attract students from all over.

Barry Silverman, director of the District Symphony, sums up his commitment this way: ''If you expose children to fine music at an early age, you ultimately get adults who understand and appreciate it. Symphony orchestras will soon be in deep trouble as public school music programs shut down.''

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The challenge is to keep the ensemble thriving musically and economically. It grew - from 40 to 70 members - and it reaped honors along the way. ''Best in Class'' and ''First in State'' were collected in 1980, and a major victory last year: all ''superior'' ratings in the National Six Flags Music Festival at Magic Mountain.

The prize: a spring '83 concert tour of London. The catch: The group had to absorb the $80,000 cost.

In tandem with musical effort went fund-raising:

* Corner rummage sales generated revenue handily. A sales slip issued to the buyer recorded the nonprofit organization number of the Glendale District Symphony Orchestra, so the amount could be deducted as a charitable contribution.

* For assembling a live television audience, orchestra members, their families, and friends earned $3 a head plus advertisers' gifts (for future raffles) from the studio.

* A Christmas concert at a local shopping mall provided entertainment for shoppers and alerted them to the London concert tour. Among this group of listeners was David Feldman, owner of an appliance store. He requested a private performance for a Christmas party at his home, giving a generous donation.

* The young musicians pleaded for support with notes to their doctors, dentists, and local merchants. They described the London concert tour and their fund-raising efforts.

* Advertising revenue collected by a student was credited to the trip account. The businesses were acknowledged in program notes and posters.

* The Parents Supporting Group contacted all the major money institutions in the area. offering a performance by the entire orchestra, anywhere, anytime, for a $1000 donation.

* As its departure date neared, the orchestra performed a gala Bon Voyage Concert. The musicians displayed an ambitious repertoire of Copland, Mussorsgky, Saint-Saens, Tchaikovsky, and Bernstein to be carried abroad. Glendale Mayor Robert Garcin challenged local businessmen to attend.

Their fund-raising efforts proved successful, and the District Symphony's young musicians traveled to London at the end of March.

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