Orchestra partners with Challenge Mountain providing more access to live, classic music

·3 min read
Challenge Mountain participants gather for a group photo at the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra’s dress rehearsal for its Dec. 16-17 “Messiah” concerts in Petoskey.
Challenge Mountain participants gather for a group photo at the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra’s dress rehearsal for its Dec. 16-17 “Messiah” concerts in Petoskey.

PETOSKEY — Expanding public access to live, classical music is a central goal of the Petoskey-based Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra, a nonprofit organization headquartered downtown on Lake Street.

On the heels of its new veterans program, which offers free concert tickets to current and former American service members, the orchestra has announced another new initiative, this one in conjunction with Challenge Mountain, an organization that provides year-round adaptive recreation for the disabled.

Another local nonprofit, Challenge Mountain was launched in 1984 as Northern Michigan’s first independent adaptive skiing program. Since then, Challenge Mountain has developed many more inclusive activities outside of skiing, including its popular SPIRIT Day Camp, equine therapy, camping, kayaking, snowboarding, cycling, boating, swimming and a host of other pursuits, including visual arts, that span the seasons.

The orchestra's and Challenge Mountain's partnership took root last summer when a group of disabled citizens visited one of the orchestra's “Little Bay Live!” outdoor concerts in Pennsylvania Park. There, orchestra executive director Judith Zorn and Challenge Mountain program director Linda Armstrong agreed that such an association would benefit both organizations’ expansion goals.

For Challenge Mountain, the new endeavor symbolizes more diversified programming for participants. For the orchestra, the joint venture presents an opportunity to increase public access to live, classical music, a central thrust of the orchestra’s mission.

The first joint outing took place on Dec. 15 when a small group of participants visited a dress rehearsal for the orchestra’s Dec. 16-17 “Messiah” concerts at Great Lakes Center for the Arts. Armstrong said the visit went very well with participants responding favorably to the performance.

“That was awesome,” said one attendee, while another thanked the orchestra for the invitation.

“By partnering with the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra,” Armstrong explained, “we will be able to add some amazing cultural events to our current programming that would otherwise be out of reach for Challenge Mountain, as well as our clients.

“Currently, we are able to offer a small amount of art workshops to our participants, which at this time are mostly visual arts, such as painting, ceramics, paper making, stained glass, and drawing,” Armstrong said. “The performing arts will add such a wide range of culture and expose them to so many different forms of art that they may have never seen before.”

For Zorn and the orchestra, the new partnership is “...perfectly aligned with the orchestra’s mission,” which is “to produce professional live orchestral performances providing entertainment, education and inspiration for our northern Michigan communities.”

Zorn said that, like the veterans ticket program, the Challenge Mountain program is all about expanding public access to the arts as a means of providing the three aforementioned goals.

“The orchestra is pleased to work with Challenge Mountain to expand cultural opportunities for the disabled,” said Zorn. “Providing exposure to performances of classical music in a concert hall setting is exciting, educational and inspirational. We plan to continue to offer these opportunities with upcoming concerts.”

The Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra is a free-standing, nonprofit organization that relies on the generosity of public and private donations. More information about both organizations can be found online at www.glcorchestra.com or www.challengemtn.org.

This article originally appeared on The Petoskey News-Review: Chamber orchestra partners with Challenge Mountain

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