By Joe Cotten, PSO Board | December 4, 2020
At a time when most live musical performances have been sharply curtailed or canceled, there is only one thing to do – plan to come back stronger than ever. Your Prescott POPs is doing just that! While the name, Prescott POPs, has served us well for over 28 years, it falls short in representing the true scope of our current activities and those to which we aspire in the coming years. We have chosen the name, Prescott Symphony Orchestra (PSO), as the umbrella organization for a much broader range of operations. There are initially three areas of emphasis for the new organization.

The Prescott POPs will continue to be the flagship organization. It will continue to offer the same popular and light classical repertoire that local audiences have enjoyed throughout its 26 year history. We plan to continue to present five or more concerts including Summer, Fall and Winter schedules with dates corresponding to popular holidays like July 4, Christmas and St. Valentines Day and program themes to celebrate the season. Since we expect most of these concerts to sell out, season tickets are recommended, and same seat selection for those ticket holders for the 2019 – 2020 season will be assured.

Under the umbrella of the Prescott Symphony Orchestra the Prescott Chamber Orchestra strives to recreate the experiences of the early days in the evolution of the classical style when instrumental groups tended to be small and the performance venues more intimate. This was a time when there were no large concert halls and performances were generally held in churches and small castle halls. With this orchestra we are planning to present up to three concerts during the next season that will feature lesser known works of those earlier times and offer an alternative to some of the contemporary works offered by the larger orchestras. Once the programs are fully developed, we expect to offer flexible season ticketing options to allow the audience to maximize its enjoyment of both popular and classical music.
The third leg of the organization is the Prescott Symphony Educational Outreach program. Throughout its lifetime POPs has dedicated its financial resources from ticket sales and donations to benefit the youth of our community. Each year we have provided monetary scholarships to promising student musicians as well as opportunities to perform as members of the orchestra. Grants to schools have covered the costs of instruments and instrument repair and other incidentals associated with their music programs. The annual Music Memory program brings over 2000 elementary school students together for a special concert after having been introduced to the orchestra and the music through carefully designed classroom instruction.

Recognizing the importance of music in a well rounded education, a number of area public schools have established extra-curricula programs to help meet these needs. The Humboldt Foundation is conducting a student string program that currently has over thirty participants with the expectation of another thirty in the near future. To circumvent the problems caused by the pandemic, the Prescott Symphony Orchestra is covering the cost of computer based software that makes it possible for teachers to conduct one-on-one instruction with the students. Teachers are able to assign pieces, students are guided through practice sessions, and the final performance presented to the teacher for critique. The teachers are enthusiastic! PSO is also supporting the cost of having experienced musicians serve as mentors for the students to supplement the efforts of the teachers.

Prior to the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, Granite Mountain Middle School was offering an extra-curricula youth orchestra program. POPs supported this program by supplying experienced musicians to participate with the orchestra in sectional rehearsals and as sit-in performers during ensemble rehearsals. At this time the continuation of this program is in doubt due to staffing issues at the school. However, since one of the goals of the PSO is to present a full youth symphony orchestra as a third performing group with a regular concert schedule of its own, the Granite Mountain program may serve as an appropriate starting point.

POPs has been very fortunate to enjoy a generous level of financial support from our ticket holders and donors, including corporate sponsors. We have lofty goals for the future but our experience to date shows that we have an excellent chance for success. We invite all of the community to participate in this success. Donations can be made through our website at The Prescott Symphony Orchestra is a 501 c3 organization.