This summer, the community will have their annual opportunity to see the Olympia Symphony Orchestra (OSO) outdoors and in the shadow of the Capitol Dome. The free Concert at the Capitol will be held July 28 at 6:00 p.m. on the Capitol Lawn and will feature a special guest appearance from two youth from the The Bridge Music Project.

Olympia Symphony Orchestra 2018
The Concert at the Capitol is an annual event, hapenning every July. This year, youth from The Bridge Music Project will be performing on stage. Photo courtesy: Olympia Symphony Orchestra

The Bridge Music Project is a nonprofit organization that teaches young artists to express themselves through music via singing/rapping and songwriting. The Bridge supports youth who have encountered troubling circumstances and helps them to navigate their emotions through music. Members of the Olympia Symphony Orchestra collaborated with youth from The Bridge Music Project by playing on a few original tracks for The Bridge’s forth-coming album. All songs on the album were written by youth in the program.

“This collaboration with The Bridge speaks to the universal nature of music,” says Jennifer Hermann, Olympia Symphony Orchestra’s executive director. “Music transcends generations. It transcends circumstances. Music is a thread that connects us all.”

Over the past 12 years, OSO’s summer Concert at the Capitol has been connecting our community and has woven itself into the fabric of our region’s summer offerings. In a mix of classical and popular tunes, highlights from the previous season, and traditional summer music, such as the patriotic tune “Armed Forces Salute,” the performance on the Capitol Lawn (near the Tivoli Fountain), is a very different experience for the orchestra. “They’re normally playing in a tiered, enhanced concert hall,” Conductor Huw Edwards explains.

Olympia Symphony Orchestra Maestro in Action-
The summer concert features highlights of the previous season, as well as popular film and show tunes and patriotic favorites. Photo credit: John O’Leary

It’s a great opportunity to get up-close to the musicians, as there’s no assigned seats like in the regular season held at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts. “The concert is special,” Edwards says, “because the family can come down, wear T-shirts, and drink and nibble throughout the performance.”

For this summer symphony, there are no ticket worries for the almost three-thousand attendees. On that evening alone, the number of attendees is equivalent to the collective number the Orchestra plays to during their entire regular season, and includes some that may have never seen a symphony.

It’s a unique opportunity for children especially. “In schools we’re trying to inspire children to play instruments,” Hermann says, “and if they never have a big-league musician to look at, then what are we motivating them with? This is a chance for kids to come out and see real, adult musicians in action. Our intent is to inspire a new generation to keep this art alive.”

Olympia Symhony Orchestra Conductor Huw
Conductor Huw Edwards lends a hand to a young maestro. Photo courtesy: Olympia Symphony Orchestra

Providing access to classical and orchestrated music for all is very important to OSO. “My dream is that anyone who wants to come see and hear the symphony perform would be able to,” Hermann says. “We want our concerts to be as accessible as possible, but the truth is that we still need to sustain the organization. These are paid musicians of really high caliber.”

Despite this, OSO still finds a way to remove the barrier. Throughout their regular season they offer discounted tickets for students and members of the military, and in a program unique to their organization, all members of a household where children receive reduced or free lunches are eligible for complimentary tickets to the symphony thanks to Columbia Bank, a steadfast sponsor of the arts.

That is why the recent collaboration between the OSO and The Bridge Music Project makes perfect sense. Both organizations share an important goal: to reduce barriers to music. Just as The Bridge Music Project forms a bridge to youth, Olympia Symphony Orchestra does too, with their summer concert. And this summer, both organizations get the pleasure and the honor of doing it together.

Olympia Symphony Orchestra Collaboration with The Bridge Music Project
Josh Holman (left) and Elliot Loudenback (right) from The Bridge Music Project will be performing their song “Emerald City” in a collaboration with the Olympia Symphony Orchestra Photo courtesy: Olympia Symphony Orchestra

During Concert at the Capitol, Josh Holman and Elliot Loudenback, from The Bridge will perform a song they co-wrote titled, “Emerald City” and will be accompanied by members of our capital city’s phenomenally proficient orchestra. “On an artist level, this is going to be pretty significant,” says Bobby Williams, executive director of The Bridge Music Project. “We have a lot of really talented and creative artists in our program, so being able to combine our young songwriters and singers and the orchestra musicians together is really exciting on a lot of levels.”

Hermann fully agrees and says she’s been “really intrigued by the difference the project has been making in the community.” She has been wanting to find a way for the orchestra to support The Bridge’s work because she knows what an impact a professional musician can make on a young person. “The Bridge just won Nonprofit of the Year from the Thurston Economic Development Council” she shares.

Another special guest will take the stage again this year, Mayor Cheryl Selby will be guest-conducting a song with the orchestra. Last year, the concert was held on the hottest day of the year, and long-time sponsor, Capital Heating and Cooling provided water bottles to concert-goers and will again this year.

Olympia Symphony Orchestra Mayor Selby
Cheryl Selby conducting the orchestra in 2008. Mayor Selby will once again lead the Olympia Symphony Orchestra in the audience favorite, “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” Photo courtesy: Olympia Symphony Orchestra

It’s also a high price tag to “orchestrate” an event of this caliber, and Commencement Bank is helping to pick up the tab as the Grand Presenting Sponsor. Supporting sponsors include Capital Heating and Cooling and Bill Pope, Attorney at Law. In addition, copies of The Bridge Music Project’s new album will be available for purchase, as well as commemorative Olympia Symphony t-shirts

Hermann says that over the years she’s learned that people count on attending this event. “They love to bring their families out. For young children, and people that come to hear the symphony for the first time, it’s a really good, comfortable and friendly event.”

Concert at the Capitol

Olympia Symphony Orchestra
Sunday, July 28, 6:00 p.m. – Capitol Lawn
All campus parking is free on Sundays

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