DOWNEY – A grant from the National Endowment for the Arts is one of the most prestigious awards an arts organization can receive. The Downey Symphonic Society now steps into this elite circle.
Under the NEA’s Arts Engagement in American Communities program, the Symphony has been awarded $10,000. The funds will support a performance of Gustav Holst’s orchestral suite “The Planets” for the opening concert of the 2016-2017 season on Oct. 22.
The piece requires a very large orchestra and a chorus, and a work on this scale would be difficult or impossible for the Symphony to produce without this added support, officials said.
The performance of “The Planets” is the Symphony contribution to the year-long celebration of the 60th anniversary of the incorporation of Downey. Given the city’s rich history and contributions to the space program, the piece is especially appropriate.
Apollo Command Modules and Space Shuttles were designed and assembled at the North American Rockwell plant in Downey, now the site of Kaiser Permanente Hospital and The Promenade shopping center.
“This wonderful suite is filled with great melodies and a range of feelings from energetic to mystical,” said Music Director Sharon Lavery. “It’s a favorite of audiences everywhere.”
The concert will be the centerpiece of several programs in October developed in cooperation with other local arts and cultural entities. A thematically related art show in partnership with the Downey Arts Coalition and screening of a film as part of GlennFest will take place Oct.2.
Lorine Parks, curator of Poetry Matters, will be inviting submission of original poems related to the planets and space, and will select the best for presentation at a reading as well as publication in a chapbook.
The Columbia Memorial Space Center will develop programs that bring together space exploration and the arts. Additional programs are being developed and will be announced over the summer.
“We are privileged to participate in celebrating our City’s birthday,” said Larry Lewis, President of the Downey Symphonic Society, “and we look forward to welcoming Downey residents and neighbors to our program.”
The National Endowment for the Arts is the federal agency that supports and funds the arts to give all Americans the opportunity to experience creativity and participate in the arts. NEA programs and funding support thousands of activities in communities large and small across the country.
NEA Chairman Jane Chu said, “The National Endowment for the Arts is committed to nurturing artists and the arts in communities across the country. Supporting projects from organizations like the Downey Symphonic Society represents a wise investment in both Downey and the creative vitality of the nation.”
For more information about the Symphony go to downeysymphony.org.