This is the third part of a four-part story, sharing the opportunities offered by Indian Hill Music and the manner in which they touch the local community.
By Karen Riggert
LITTLETON — Over the past few months, articles on Indian Hill Music have described the opportunities for lessons and performances for the students of the music school and the cultural experiences provided by the Orchestra of Indian Hill via their symphonic concerts and chamber music, with all of these offerings being available to residents in the Nashoba Valley.
What hasn’t been unmasked yet is the additional manner in which they positively impact their neighbors through community outreach programs. Indian Hill Music sponsors three different public platforms that reach students, adults and senior citizens under very special circumstances.
Executive Director Susan Randazzo emphasizes the importance of Indian Hill’s community outreach. It became evident in the strategic planning process undertaken four years ago that much of the organization’s identity was tied up in giving the gift of music. “Indian Hill Music,” she states, “has shifted from becoming a destination to being out in the community.” She continues, “Musical philanthropy has become a driving force in our mission and the lens through which we examine all of our work. It is our heart.”
Each year, the musicians of Indian Hill, professionals and students, offer music in a wide variety of settings. Visits to schools, senior centers, assisted-living facilities, community gatherings and other events bring music to those who otherwise would not have access, and help IHM meet its mission of giving back.
The Indian Hill Bach’s Lunch concerts are free and open to the public; they take place the third Thursday of every month, at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. in Camilla Blackman Hall. The program consists of a series of free concerts with a variety of music from classical to jazz performed by Indian Hill Music School faculty. Indian Hill Music provides complimentary coffee, tea and cookies, and guests are welcome to bring a lunch to enjoy.
Pianist Jennifer Ruland Morlock of Groton and cellist Arkady Beletsky will be playing French and Russian music on Nov. 17. The monthly series through the remainder of the 2011-2012 school year will include jazz performances, combined flute and piano selections, vocal repertoires, and will close in June with some fun Broadway and popular hits by vocalist Rob Woodin.
During the first five years of providing these concerts, IHM offered one each month. They were very well received and soon became too crowded. They now provide 20 performances a year, playing music of all genres.
Residents from several communities attend the Bach’s Lunch program, including students and their parents, other adults, and senior citizens from Groton’s Rivercourt Residences and Ayer’s Nashoba Park. Other guests come from as far away as Tewksbury, Andover, Chelmsford and Concord. About 100 people attend each session. The programs are supported through grants from the Bruce J. Anderson Foundation, the Frederick L. Reynolds Jr. Community Education Fund, the North Middlesex Savings Charitable Foundation, and Red Hat.
“Our residents at Rivercourt Residences love attending the monthly Bach’s Lunches at Indian Hill. They really look forward to it,” said Rivercourt Activities Director Emma Bruns. She continued, “The a cappella group comes to Rivercourt to perform once a year, around the holidays. We feel so fortunate that Indian Hill Music is able to offer such wonderful programs in our community and that they are so generous with sharing their time, talent and facility.”
Another way that Indian Hill Music chooses to give back to the community is to host lessons and offer programs to the some of the local public schools; they do this by raising enough funds to be able to offer these programs to a wider constituency. Due to the generosity of corporate sponsorships and private contributions granted to Indian Hill Music, they have been able to subsidize the public school programs, even while facing economic challenges.
The partnership between Indian Hill Music and the schools developed as a result of the school system being affected by the closing of Fort Devens. Seeing that the Ayer-Shirley school district was being underserved, Indian Hill Music was able to provide nearly 90 students from preschool to grade 5, with music classes and/or the ability to learn to play an instrument in small, group settings with 3 to 6 students in a class at a reduced rate through the After School Music Collaborative.
Randazzo elaborated, “What Indian Hill Music has been accomplishing is to help provide a feeder system to the middle school instrumental program. The value and impact of this program, supplementing the general music program, has been so important, and we will work to keep it in place until the school district finds a way to fund it. It is so clear that music can catch some of the kids who have trouble with the traditional path. Music requires focus, discipline, abstract learning concepts, and math. It shouldn’t be an extra; it’s an essential.”
Last year, and for the first half of the school year, Indian Hill Music was unable to maintain the lessons program due to budget constraints. More than 400 Ayer students were able to attend musical performances in the spring of 2010 as part of a limited program, but with the recent generous support of North Middlesex Savings Bank in Ayer, Indian Hill Music is planning to re-institute the Ayer-Shirley lessons program in January.
IHM was the recipient of a $5,000 grant presented by William Marshall, CFP president and CEO of North Middlesex Savings Bank and Warren Chase, executive vice president and treasurer, reinforcing their interest in assisting IHM in helping the school music program to survive.
Page Hilltop Elementary School Principal Fred Deppe is looking forward to reconnecting with Indian Hill Music. “The program that had been provided for our students was a great experience,” Deppe Said. He continued, “This form of enrichment allowed the students to dabble in the arts and to try another avenue where they could feel some success and be happy with themselves. The convenience of having the lessons in the afternoon, after school and right on site, combined with the minimal fee required for the lessons, allowed more students to be able to participate. It’s been an excellent program, and I would welcome Indian Hill back.”