Orchestra helps young people discover classical music

Last year, the youth-friendly Discovery Ensemble chamber orchestra’s introductory workshops to classical music and free concerts in Dorchester were so enthusiastically received that the group will be welcomed back for new programming here next week.

 “We are passionate about helping kids connect with and love classical music,” exclaims Belfast, Northern Ireland-born Courtney Lewis, founder and music director of the ensemble that consists of 40 young professional musicians.

 In recent seasons the 24-year-old  Lewis has conducted the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Tulsa Symphony, Liverpool Mozart Orchestra, and  St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

 “Four times a year we give interactive workshops in schools, followed by a children’s concert in the local community and then a public concert for a broader audience in Boston,” Lewis said. “The  workshops dispel the myth that classical music is boring and only for old people. The kids at the workshops then come to the concert feeling invested in what is happening, which opens the door to a life enriched by music.”

On Tuesday and Wednesday (April 21-22)  workshops were held at the Columbia Campus of the John Paul II Catholic Academy. On Thursday, April 30, there will be a free one-hour concert open to all ages at the Strand Theatre starting at 10 a.m. On Monday evening, May 4, the chamber orchestra will play at Sanders Theatre at Harvard University.

Lewis knows just how to pick and present classical works with exciting rhythms and catchy melodies. Thursday’s lively concert will feature  music from Ligeti’s electrifying “Romanian Concerto,” Stravinsky’s “Pulcinella,”  and Beethoven’s effervescent “Symphony No. 8.”  

“Everyone in the audience will be involved in understanding this incredible music,” Lewis promises.
In January of this year, Matthew Guerrieri of the Boston Globe praised  Discovery Ensemble’s “warm, generous sound” and Lewis’ own  “big, busy conducting style, with large-scale gestures and a steady stream of physicalized detail.”  Younger audiences seem to  love the Q & A sessions with instrumentalists after the concert.

To sample the group’s music and learn more, log on to discoveryensemble.org.