Temple’s Contemporary Symphony of Broken Instruments

Local musicians performed on Sunday with broken instruments to shed light on funding for musical education.

Funding for musical education in the Philadelphia school district has decreased since 2007.

Over $1 million were given to the district for musical education, since then the budget has declined to $50,000 for the entire District. Schools do not have the funds to buy or even repair broken instruments. When an instrument is damaged, the school district cannot afford its repair, putting the instruments away in storage. This problem lead Robert Blackson, Temple’s contemporary director and Sarah Beimiller, the assistant director to come up with Temple’s Symphony For A Broken Orchestra. Which are artists from the community collaborating together to play damaged instruments.

“We collected over a thousand broken instruments from the school district and went and recorded all of the sounds that the sounds those broken instruments made. David Lang composed a piece based on those broken instruments,” Beilmiller shared.

The piece that David Lang composed gave the instruments life and new ways to use them. The piece was very profound, emphasizing that although the instruments are damaged, they are still valuable. With the help of Found Sound Nation, a nonprofit that helps bring music to inner city schools, over 350 volunteers and students played the broken instruments to help raise money to repair these instruments, and donate them back to the school district.

Ginger Smith says, “We thought it was a perfect opportunity to give back to the institutions that have also grown us.”

Temple contemporary will continue to collaborate with professionals to fix these instruments for the students of the Philadelphia school district.

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