“I must study politics and war, that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy,” John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, in May 1780. “My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy and geography, natural history, naval architecture, to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.”
I’m sure Abigail would have preferred to read “sons and daughters,” but even the well-educated Adams was at times a misogynistic man of his times. The then-president-to-be recognized what a brilliant gift the arts, including music, are to a civilized society.
Here in the state of North Carolina, particularly in this immediate area, we are blessed by a profusion of musical gifts. That wealth of musical options has been incredibly enriched over the past eight years by the remarkable contributions of a local impresario, Maestro David Michael Wolff, of the Carolina Philharmonic.
What David Wolff has brought to Pinehurst and its surroundings is in keeping with a grand North Carolina cultural tradition begun in 1932, when at the height of the Great Depression, the North Carolina Symphony was created. By 1935, it had performed in more than 50 cities and towns in the state, in over 140 concerts.
The original artists were unpaid local musicians. In 1943, when money was still scarce, and the nation was at war, the North Carolina legislature voted public funding for the orchestra. Beginning in 1942, the orchestra began to focus on education, bringing children and young students to concerts. That tradition continues to this day.
Since it was founded, the Carolina Philharmonic has served well over 15,000 children of all ages in public and private schools, introducing most of them to classical music for the first time in their lives. It has also given valuable employment to talented musicians from throughout the state.
Thousands of young kids have also attended its special music classes taught by 16 caring music teachers from 19 Moore County schools. First- and second-grade students are introduced to the study of music through Encore! Kids, a program designed by Maestro Wolff.
All fourth-grade children are taught to play special music recommended in Carnegie Hall’s Linkup Program, using Peripole recorders provided by the Carolina Philharmonic. At the completion of each course, the students participate with the Carolina Philharmonic in a multimedia, interactive concert. It is one of the educational highlights of the school year.
When string orchestral programs’ budgets were cut by local county schools in 2013, the Carolina Philharmonic began offering its Junior Orchestra Program, which provides scholarships for students and instruments. Now, over 100 young students participate annually in this unique program, in which musical instruments are loaned to learners.
Children are invited to come up on stage and perform on their stringed instruments, along with the Carolina Philharmonic.
Typically, America’s performing arts organizations generate only 30 to 40 percent of their total income from ticket sales. Private and public contributions are vital to their growth and survival. The venerable North Carolina Symphony, based in Raleigh, receives modest state funding, currently only 21 cents per citizen.
But all the other excellent local symphony orchestras in North Carolina are not so blessed. That is shortsighted, because every orchestra is under terrific financial pressure just to survive, let alone thrive.
If the state’s contribution was modestly increased from 21 cents to a mere 99 cents per citizen, then all the other 16 local philharmonic orchestras in North Carolina could each receive, on average, roughly $ 500,000 annually, based upon demonstrated need and good management.
I think such benevolence would guarantee sweet music to their audiences’ ears. All would then be able to provide to their communities inspired musical programs similar to those we are fortunate enough to enjoy here in civilized Moore County.
The Carolina Philharmonic’s next offering at Sandhills Community College’s Owens Auditorium will be “A Walk on Broadway,” on Saturday, March 17, at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Mark your calendar!