Keeping the needs of the students of local schools in mind, in 2018 Sinfonia Varsovia initiated a series of short concerts combined with talks about music and instruments. These events, organized on school premises and in youth centers under the name “Neighborhood meetings”, enable young people to get close to music (performers are almost within a hand’s reach from the audience) and encourage them to actively participate in concerts: children can ask questions and request that musicians play selected parts of the piece again or play them in a different way; sometimes they even join the musicians in singing and playing. From Sinfonia Varsovia’s side, the 40-minute events are attended by the invited artists (2 to 8 people) and an emcee.
Sinfonia Varsovia’s musicians participate in most “Neighborhood meetings”. The artists present previously prepared chamber music pieces – short fragments are selected to suit the young listener’s perceptive abilities. With the help of the emcee, children are happy to join the conversation about what they just listened to – the character and form of the pieces, the sounds of the instruments, and the musicians’ actions. Thanks to this conversational formula, youths develop an interest in classical music and learn about their neighborhood institution. So far, the meetings included pieces by such composers as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Felix Mendelssohn, Dmitry Shostakovich, Igor Stravinsky, and Krzysztof Penderecki. We also invite artists from different specialties, such as actors, singers, dancers, and ethnic musicians, to the events.
“Neighborhood meetings” are also a chance for the Sinfonia Varsovia staff to get to know the local community. Children are an extremely demanding audience that tends to speak about its feelings openly. Playing at a special needs school or youth centers can become a source of inspiration and satisfaction for the musicians. Winning the attention of young people can be challenging, but good music performed well easily brings out the audience’s enthusiasm and puts smiles on the attendees’ faces. Building rapport with young listeners is made easier by the fact that many students of local educational facilities participate in music classes at their schools. Sinfonia Varsovia works with music teachers, enabling student bands to participate in the events by giving short performances.