, Gloucester, MA

January 18, 2013

Editorial: Symphony visits have note of irony

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — One of our region’s better community outreach programs is now under way, with a group of the Cape Ann Symphony’s musicians and local actor/narrator Heidi Dallin, usually the Symphony’s publicist, visiting elementary schools across Gloucester, Cape Ann’s towns and now even Beverly to present highlights from the classic “Peter and the Wolf,” which the Symphony will perform in full concert on Jan. 25.

The program allows youngsters to get a taste not only of this classic music, but a closeup look at the orchestra’s classical instruments, as Thursday’s Page 1 story and photo package showed. And all of that should give the kids new insight into a segment of the arts to which they not have been exposed or just not appreciated in the past.

There is, however, a bit of irony in the Symphony musicians’ visit to Gloucester’s public schools this year.

That’s because the Gloucester school building that had long been home to the orchestra – the Fuller School and its once beautiful auditorium — no longer serves in that role. And that, of course, is because the city and its School Committee basically drove the Symphony to Manchester by letting the auditorium and much of the building fall to rot. That’s all part of their perceived “need” to show that Fuller is unfit, and the committee somehow had no choice but to declare it “surplus” while looking to ram through plans for a new school in West Gloucester.

By all counts, the Symphony is making the most of its new home in the still-sparkling, four-year-old auditorium at Manchester Essex Middle/High School. But it’s still hard to accept that Gloucester city and school officials thought so little of the Symphony and what its presence brought to Cape Ann’s anchor community that they were willing to essentially force this dedicated musical organization to find a new home elsewhere.

In a sense, that makes this year’s Symphony school visits perhaps more important than ever for Gloucester’s schoolchildren.