Music Matters Concert Series
When the symphony in Charleston, South Carolina shut down, Abby Kent realized the impact on the community was profound. Many of the music teachers in the area worked for the symphony, and as they lost their jobs and moved away it seemed music had little local support.
“I heard on the news that the symphony was closing and I realized that it was an opportunity to do something big,” said Abby. “Because people weren’t supporting the symphony and music in general, the schools weren’t supporting music programs. I wanted to show that we needed to support music in general.”
She decided to put together a concert series to demonstrate the talents of local young musicians and get the community excited about music again. While her peers were happy to provide the music, finding a place to hold the concerts was a challenge.
“When we tried to find a venue for the concerts, we ran into some difficulty,” Abby said. Many places turned her down, until she found a chapel within a retirement community that had an added benefit. “It turned out to be perfect because it has a built-in audience. We were able to advertise within the community and always have a good turn-out,” she said.
Another struggle strengthened Abby’s resolve to keep the concert series running, even a full year after it was scheduled to end. “Right before the November concert, the conductor died and that was a shock to the musical community,” Abby said. “It made me feel that the series had to keep going so that the community understands how important music is. It gave us a specific motivation to get the word out.”
Ongoing encouragement helped Abby face not only the difficulties of running the project, but also some of her more personal challenges. “I had to talk at the beginning and end of every concert, so I got more confident doing that,” Abby said. “There was one time at the Christmas concert where a little girl came up and said she wanted to play an instrument and that was really great.”
The encouragement didn’t end there. About half-way through the series of concerts, the Charleston Symphony Orchestra was re-convened. It was a smaller orchestra, but it was back.
“My mom came into my room with the paper saying the symphony was back – both of us were jumping up and down because we were so happy,” Abby said, adding, “it made me certain that as I go into the world, I need to continue to make sure music isn’t always second fiddle.”