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All Aboard the DSO Express

photo of DSO musician talking to students

DSO violinist, pianist and composer Conrad Tao speaks to music students at North Lake College. 

Photo by Joanna Mikolajczak, North Lake News-Register  

By Molly Bewley

More than 370 students of the colleges of DCCCD attended Dallas Symphony Orchestra concerts for free during the 2013-2014 school year. Not only did they hear great music, but they also talked with symphony musicians and heard firsthand what it’s like to perform with one of the best orchestras in the nation.

It’s all part of DCCCD’s partnership with Dallas Area Rapid Transit and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Through the partnership, which kicked off in Fall 2013, more than 370 students from Eastfield College, Brookhaven College, North Lake College and Richland College attended concerts at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in downtown Dallas.
The symphony program is called DSO Express. The program gives Dallas-area students free access to symphony concerts; the effort is designed to connect those students to cultural opportunities that they may otherwise miss. DART provided a free bus ride to and from each concert.
From Tchaikovsky to Ravel
Eastfield College students attended “Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5” on Sept. 22. Brookhaven College students heard “The Firebird” on Oct. 20.  North Lake College students listened to the “President JFK Memorial Concert” on Nov. 24. That concert included a commissioned work by 19-year-old violinist, pianist and composer Conrad Tao. The series concluded with Richland College students attending Ravel’s “Bolero” on March 2.
A few days before each concert, students talked with one of the DSO musicians who would be performing. They asked about the music in the concert and heard firsthand what it’s like to perform onstage with an orchestra. After many of the concerts, the same musician spoke to the students from the orchestra stage about their experience.
Derrick Logozzo, co-coordinator of music and director of instrumental music at Richland College, reflected, “The Richland students and faculty enjoyed the concert so much and appreciated the opportunity to attend. We had various students with us who never before had been to a DSO concert and were very impressed with the music, the facility and the experience. I could tell that student minds were opened more and their interest in symphonic music was increased.” 
A Learning and a Musical Experience
DSO Express was made possible by the vision and hard work of Jamie Allen, director of education for the DSO. Said Allen, “It was such a joy to see so many students coming to DSO concerts, experiencing such terrific music and getting to know our musicians up-close-and-personal. Three of the greatest assets we enjoy living in Dallas are the amazing Meyerson Symphony Center; the unbelievable, talented musicians of the DSO; and the incredibly valuable Dallas Community College system.
“Combining all three of these assets in such a rich and meaningful way was a win-win for everyone. Seeing the students interact directly with our artists on campus was particularly rewarding for me. I look forward to seeing even more students on the DSO Express next year!”
Molly Bewley is district director of outreach.