Community Outreach and Collaboration

Youth Outreach and Engagement

Children’s Concerts
In collaboration with Carnegie Hall, Aiken Civic Orchestra once again participated in Link Up, a music education program provided by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI). This is done in partnership with Aiken and Edgefield County Public Schools to bring orchestral music to 4th grade students, culminating in free concerts at USC Aiken Etherredge Center. Students have a chance to sing or play the recorder with the orchestra from their seats. This experience often serves as a students’ first orchestra concert and provides them with the opportunity to apply the musical concepts they have studied through the nationally distributed curriculum. The performances are also open to interested families with students not enrolled in Aiken or Edgefield County Public Schools.

For more than 35 years, Link Up has paired orchestras with students in grades 3-5 at schools in their local communities to explore orchestral repertoire and fundamental musical skills, including creative work and composition, through a hands-on music curriculum. Link Up addresses the urgent need for music instruction and resources by providing a free, high quality, year-long curriculum that teachers can implement, along with classroom materials, online video and audio resources, and the professional development and support necessary to make the program an engaging experience for students.

Aiken Civic Orchestra is one of over 100 national and international organizations chosen for this program. This year Aiken Civic Orchestra presented Link Up’s “The Orchestra Sings” program which explores the mystery, beauty, and the power of great melodies.

Side-by-side performances
Another way ACO engages with area students is through a side-by-side experience where young performers have a chance to sit alongside ACO musicians in rehearsals and a concert. The Davidson Fine Arts Chamber Orchestra students were once again featured in a March 2023 concert. In addition to side-by-side repertoire, these students were also featured in a segment all to themselves.

Student musicians
Aside from individual events like a side-by-side program, some of the best area high school students are invited to actively participate in the orchestra throughout the rest of the season. In addition to talented high school students, ACO also partners with the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at USC Aiken to offer college string students an orchestral opportunity to count as ensemble credit as an independent study course.

Youth Concerto Competition
ACO also sponsors an annual youth concerto competition open to young performers. The winners of this competition enjoy the opportunity of performing with the orchestra. Two winners were named in 2022 and were featured on the April 16 Rising Stars concert. Clark Walker played the final two movements of the Weber Bassoon Concerto in F Major and Eliza Tiszai played the first movement of the Haydn Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major.

More engagement
ACO musicians teach many students throughout the CSRA–many of whom are associated with Carolina Academy of Music. Music Director Adam DePriest also directs the Aiken Youth Orchestras, who have been featured in the past as part of pre-concert entertainment. ACO also sponsors workshops, bringing guest teachers to the area, often through masterclasses of visiting musicians.


Some local soloists we have featured:

Kyah Bodiford (Aiken), Susan Burgess (North Augusta), Ken Courtney (Aiken), Christine Crookall (Augusta), Eliza King (Aiken), Claudio Olivera (Columbia), Isabel Ong (Columbia), Clara Park (Augusta), Sho Ane Seaton (Augusta), Tyleigh Spiller (Aiken), Laura Tomlin (Augusta), Michelle Wei (Aiken), and Susan Zhang (Augusta).