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All-Star Orchestra: The Made-for-TV Ensemble

09/10/2013 05:15 pm 17:15:26 | Updated Nov 10, 2013

I was a wide-eyed, brown-haired 12-year-old when I decided to make music my life. It was a steamy Michigan afternoon at Interlochen Arts Camp. I was sitting first trumpet and the piece was Sibelius' Symphony No. 2. The piece felt noble to me, its expansive melodies, gorgeous harmonies and power of expression. I will never forget that afternoon.

Some pieces, some moments, are part of us forever. Most, 92 percent in fact, of children who play instruments will not become musicians. But the likelihood they have those moments, that they're given the opportunity to express themselves and experience the joy that comes with great art -- that potential only increases with exposure. It will be part of their lives forever.

That is why we started the All Star Orchestra, a made-for-television ensemble with some of the greatest classical orchestral musicians from 30 orchestras across the United States. These musicians came together to produce eight-hour-long television programs that will air this fall throughout the country on public television stations, courtesy of 19 HD cameras that were free to roam throughout the orchestra. Each show includes an accessible educational component prefacing the performances of great masterpieces, like Beethoven's 5th symphony and Dvorak's New World Symphony and newer works, written by living American composers.

Studies show students who study and are exposed to music perform better in school. They're more focused, energized by the positive rewards and enriched by being part of a community where everyone works together.

But this great art form only reaches a small percentage of Americans. That is what the All-Star Orchestra is trying to change.

The whole orchestra realized the importance of this project, the possibility to bring classical music to as large and diverse an audience as possible. It is our goal that we will reach millions of children with our interactive educational component and a large audience with our television performances. For us, in a way, this is our legacy and the most important work of our careers.

These 95 musicians came together to create made-for-television performances, something not done since the 1950s, and from the first down beat, the electricity was palpable.

Principal clarinet Jon Manasse has stated, "Every section of the orchestra and every individual served as an incredible focal point of inspiration... It was electrifying."

Principal harp, Nancy Allen:

If you could imagine meeting a lot people -- some old friends and some new friends -- and not being able to speak, not being able to communicate in any way except by playing your instrument, that's what it felt like.

Principal oboe, John Ferillo:

Music is really a way of expressing something that is powerful and core in our lives. I am a religious person, and it certainly taps into something spiritual... We need to expose young people to all of the great music that I've loved since I was a kid. But we also need to give audiences new reasons to go.

Please join us for the first season of our adventure and let's experience these great works together. Visit here to see when it's airing in your city.