Sandy Weill announces Carnegie Hall partnerships with SSU, Santa Rosa Symphony

Financier and philanthropist Sandy Weill and his wife, Joan, on Wednesday announced a new educational partnership between Sonoma State University and New York's Carnegie Hall, scheduled to begin in June 2013.

In conjunction with the SSU program, Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute also announced a partnership with the Santa Rosa Symphony to help support a new, five-year education program for underprivileged youth starting in the 2013-2014 season.

"We're going to launch a program called &‘Simply Strings,'" said Alan Silow, executive director of the Santa Rosa Symphony, who was in New York for the announcement. "We'll be choosing an elementary school in Sonoma County that serves underprivileged kids."

The education program is inspired by <CF102>El Sistema</CF>, a free music program for mostly impoverished youth founded in 1975 in Venezuela. Similar programs have since sprung up in the U.S. with the help of Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel, music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.

"It will be looking at music as a vehicle for social change," Silow said. "This will serve an under-served part of this community. It's a big vision."

The symphony will also work with Carnegie Hall's Link Up program, which will provide the repertoire and teaching materials for students in third through fifth grade to learn a piece of music on the recorder.

Silow estimated that the symphony would have to raise about $100,000 to support the first year of both programs.

The Simply Strings program will culminate with two free concerts for youth at SSU's Green Music Center, featuring the violin and recorder students as well as the Santa Rosa Symphony.

"It's going beyond the passive appreciation of music and actively involving the students," Silow said.

Also representing the Santa Rosa Symphony at Wednesday's announcement were President-Elect Charles Schlangen and Music Director Bruno Ferrandis, who flew in from Paris.

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