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The 411 on ISO’s 317 Series

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Attending an Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra performance and feeling the music deep within you -- soothing and exhilarating -- and witnessing the collective talent that creates the emotionally moving sounds is an experience to behold.

Whether you're dressed to the nines in elegant attire or wearing casual clothes and are personally decked with tattoo sleeves and ear gauges, the music remains the same: incredible.

That's the point, or at least part of it, the ISO hopes to make by launching its 317 Series. The organization hopes to engage additional new patrons -- from youngsters to hipsters and anyone else who enjoys beautiful orchestral music. The 317 Series takes ISO concerts and programs on the road to communities surrounding Indianapolis. From Avon to Center Grove, the remote performances are staged to prove what's most important -- the experience and that it's for everyone.

Much like ISO's summer Lunch Break Series of casual noon concerts (at the Hilbert Circle Theatre), these that are staged in various high school gymnasiums dash any preconceived notions of the symphony being a stuffy and exclusive hoity-toity club.

The 317 Series shows the symphony is for everyone.

From left to right:  Zach De Pue, Concertmaster for the ISO;  Guest violinist Philippe Quint; and Music Director Krzysztof Urbanski at the 317 Series concert at Avon High School. - PHOTO BY TOM RUSSO
  • Photo by Tom Russo
  • From left to right:  Zach De Pue, Concertmaster for the ISO;  Guest violinist Philippe Quint; and Music Director Krzysztof Urbanski at the 317 Series concert at Avon High School.

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s 317 Series is changing the tides on what conventional classical music consumers may look like –- or how they’re perceived to look.

“It’s just a misperception that classical music is ‘only for a certain kind of person, a certain age, a certain demographic,’” says Jessica Di Santo, the ISO’s director of communications.

She says new patrons, for example, might be like the “young, hip, cool and tattooed” man wearing ear gauges and giving a standing ovation at the ISO’s performance of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade.

The 317 Series is a combination of concerts, master classes and other local programs provided to Hendricks County and the Greater Greenwood Area, presented in an effort to better integrate into these communities.

Center Grove High School, Mount Pleasant Christian Church and Avon High School will host these performances.

These areas and venues were selected because of their expansive music education programs and as places that the ISO has never performed, according to Di Santo.

The students at these schools are getting a chance to meet professional musicians and learn about the classical music industry, while seeing that the performers are everyday people.

“I don’t think these kids understand that these ISO people don’t just play all the time,” says Sarah Belt, director of orchestras at Center Grove Middle School Central and Center Grove High School. “That one-on-one time when you actually see them as people and not musicians is really good for them.”

Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra percussionist Craig Hetrick interacts with young patrons before a concert at Avon High School, as part of ISO's 317 Series. - PHOTO BY TOM RUSSO
  • Photo by Tom Russo
  • Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra percussionist Craig Hetrick interacts with young patrons before a concert at Avon High School, as part of ISO's 317 Series.

Since the beginning of the series, Di Santo says the ISO has seen a pleasing change in the attendance at concerts.

Belt agrees that many of her Center Grove students have attended and enjoyed a performance.

The 317 Series can change the face of classical music consumers by immersing into the community and reaching the ears of all ages.

“That’s what we are here to do,” Di Santo says. “Show them that the music, although 400 years old, is still relatable and very powerful.”

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