By Crystal Sands
After more than a year without live music due to the pandemic, in 2021 the Bangor Symphony Orchestra brought live orchestra music back to our community. Being able to attend a live performance is good for the body and the soul, with research showing that live music helps reduce our stress levels, something much needed during these difficult times due to the pandemic.
But the Bangor Symphony Orchestra brings more than beautiful live music to our community, it is an organization that gives in so many ways, working to find creative ways to bring music to people and to support organizations in the Bangor area that need it most.
Brian Hinrichs, Executive Director of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, says first and foremost, “The BSO is an orchestra for the community, and we bring what we do to the community in many different ways.”
One of the most significant programs the BSO offers our community is the Bangor Symphony Youth Orchestra (BSYO). The BSYO offers three different levels of orchestra support and training for young musicians in the Bangor area and across the state.
The BSYO works to fill the gaps in music programs in schools, and for many children who do not have access to music programs at all, the BSYO is their only access to orchestral music instruction. Hinrichs emphasizes that the BSYO makes sure all kids can participate. In addition to offering different levels of musical opportunities, the BSO offers tuition aid to BSYO students who need it.
The BSO has a mission of service, and that mission of service is passed on to the young musicians in the BSYO.
“We teach our young musicians what it looks like to give back to their community,” says Hinrichs. This comes in the form of everything from collecting cereal for the Good Shepherd Food Bank at the BSYO concerts to BSYO students performing for nursing home residents in the Bangor area.
Of course, BSYO students are learning the tradition of service from the many examples set by the BSO. The BSO offers a Music and Wellness program for pediatric and adult patients at Acadia Hospital. The program, which began in 2013, involves a quartet of musicians playing for patients and bringing music into their lives. Hinrichs says, “This program, which uses music as a tool for healing, has had a really positive impact at Acadia Hospital.”
Hinrichs says the program at Acadia was so successful that the Music and Wellness program has been extended to St. Joseph Hospital. During the pandemic the music was live streamed into patients’ rooms.
During the pandemic, the BSO also used livestreaming to bring orchestra music to the entire community, but vaccinations for COVID-19 have now made it possible for the music to continue live, something that is critical to our community. Hinrichs points out that many of their audience members are older people who were extremely isolated during the pandemic, and bringing live music back into their lives is an important source of joy and important to everyone’s mental health.
But “the pandemic awakened the use of digital” Hinrichs says, in terms of bringing music to more people, and the digital streaming of BSO concerts continues now even though live performances have returned, making it possible for the BSO to bring its beautiful music to those who may not be able to attend in person and extending the BSO’s reach across the country and the globe.
This holiday season, the BSO is bringing music to the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter and is helping collect donations for the shelter. For more information about the BSO and upcoming performances, visit bangorsymphony.org.
Photo credits: Courtesy of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra
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