Teaching Students, Pandemic Style
Like everyone else, Orion musicians have adapted—not only their concerts,
but their teaching.

They have been working remotely with high school students, holding masterclasses, streamed concerts and coaching sessions via Zoom with students at Glenbard East High School in Lombard and Buffalo Grove High School in Buffalo Grove, the schools they are working with through Orion's Janet's Stage program. This photo above of a Zoom session represents just one of over 30 sessions Orion has had with students at its partner schools since the fall semester.

In its eighth year, Janet's Stage is a one-of-a-kind educational partnership with high school orchestras. The program's focus is to inspire chamber music participation and help students improve their ensemble skills and musicianship through presenting professional concerts, masterclasses and coaching sessions.

Janet's Stage has taken on additional significance this academic year, as schools have been unable to have full orchestra rehearsals due to the pandemic. As they focus more on chamber music, the directors in Orion's partner schools have been able to use Orion's expertise remotely as mentors to inspire their students.

The Buffalo Grove and Glenbard East orchestra directors shared their thoughts about the program’s impact on their schools during remote learning; excerpts are below.
From Elizabeth Bennett, Director of Orchestras, Fine Arts Coordinator
There are very few elements of this school year that are considered extremely helpful or 'wins,' but it has been clear that our time with the Orion Ensemble has been one of those positives. I know personally that a program can only be successful with commitment and enthusiasm from the students involved in the program, and all those who influence them. The Orion Ensemble has been a tremendous asset during this most challenging year.

Through the many coaching sessions with the Chamber Orchestra, the Orion Ensemble was able to share musical expertise and guidance so that these ensembles could work and rehearse together remotely. These ensembles were then better able to produce both virtual and in-person performances during this exceptional time.

When we all received news that this school year would be primarily taught remotely, the Orion Ensemble did not hesitate at all with their involvement and ability to aid the students. They eagerly learned the details in running Zoom, the nuances of providing feedback and helping each student feel comfortable, and sharing in struggles and successes that we are all having during this time. This helped them to connect with the students, and vice versa.

From Timothy Fawkes, Orchestra, Strings and Guitar Teacher
This is our fifth year working with Orion, and despite additional challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, their work with our students continues to show a positive impact on student engagement and artistic excellence.

We are most pleased that, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, our collaboration with Orion continues to flourish. The musicians visit us virtually over Zoom, and all parties make the best of the realities of virtual collaboration. Our students still get expert feedback and top-notch modeling from the Orion musicians. On one of the visits, our instrumental music students watched a performance by Orion over Zoom. The students listened and watched intently as the Orion artists performed with the artistry they are well known for. After viewing the performance, students enjoyed the opportunity to dialogue with Orion musicians about the music and about their careers as performers.

During a time when young people are starved for authentic, enriching, eye-opening experiences, the Orion partnership has become even more meaningful to our students.
See Orion's April Concert - One day only!
Live and Livestream
April 18

Sunday, April 18 - 3 pm
PianoForte Studios, Chicago

$25 adults - must be purchased in advance
Call 630.628.9591 or email info@orionensemble.org

A limited number of people may attend in person.
Audience members must wear masks at all times. While family groups may sit together, different audience members/groups will be seated at least six feet apart.
Extra masks and hand sanitizer will be available.

“Innovative programming. Unique repertoire.
Thoughtful performances that get to the music’s soul.”
~ Jim Ginsburg, President, Cedille Records

The Orion Ensemble is supported in part by grants from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the John R. Halligan Charitable Fund, the Farny R. Wurlitzer Foundation Fund, and the Illinois Arts Council Agency, and by generous donations from our dedicated patrons.