From all parts of northern Arizona, yellow school buses will converge on the Northern Arizona University campus on Tuesday, March 5, conveying hundreds of third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students and their teachers. The happy, excited cacophony of more than 3000 children will reverberate in Ardrey Memorial Auditorium as they await a concert with the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra. When the conductor takes the stage and the lights go down, the kids will hush as the sixth annual FSO Link Up performance begins.

The young students and their teachers are coming from district, charter and private Flagstaff schools, as well as from Grand Canyon, Williams, Parks, Tuba City and Page. The Flagstaff High School Chorus and Drumline, Marshall School balalaika ensemble, and students from Sechrist, Flagstaff Junior Academy, Kinsey, Maine Consolidated, Puente de Hozho, Thomas and Williams elementary schools will perform on stage.

To accommodate the huge audience, FSO Music Director Charles Latshaw is conducting three consecutive morning concerts of dynamic orchestral works: Verdi’s “Anvil Chorus,” selections from Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring,” and Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” “Mars” from “The Planets” by Holst, and the finale of Tchaikovsky’s “Fourth Symphony.”

Created by the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall, the Link Up curriculum is used by more than 300 orchestras worldwide to educate children and provide them the experience of a live symphonic performance.  “The Orchestra Rocks” is this year’s theme, which explores musical rhythm.  For months, teachers and their students have pursued the Link Up repertoire and hands-on activities in preparation for this culminating interactive performance with the Flagstaff Symphony.

“Link Up is a powerful orchestral engagement program because of the quality of musical content and presentation, the inclusion of students as active audience participants and as guest performers, and the dynamic scope and impact of the program,” says Mary Nebel, FSO Link Up Coordinator and Chair of Educational Engagement.

Link Up is a collaboration between FSO and the Flagstaff Unified School District and Coconino County Schools, along with Northern Arizona University Police and Parking Services and Coconino County Supervisor Lena Fowler. Funding is provided by Carnegie Hall, Arizona Community Foundation, Arizona Commission on the Arts, and Executive Council Charities.