The Phoenix Symphony is excited to announce we are upgrading to a new, easy-to-use ticketing system. During this transition, our TICKETING SYSTEM IS DOWN September 11, 12, 13, and 14. Our new ticketing system will be live on September 15. Sorry for any inconvenience. Feel free to browse our performances in the meantime.

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Send a Student to the Symphony

June 5, 2024



You can imagine the enthusiastic roar projected onto the stage when 35 buses of elementary school students arrive to hear our orchestra. From the excitement of being in Symphony Hall to the anticipation of the performance, the buzz from thousands of eager students is exhilarating, especially from my chair in the viola section right next to the apron of the stage.

Since 2008, I’ve had the privilege of playing with The Phoenix Symphony. Among the many memorable experiences, our weeks dedicated to Symphony for the Schools stand out. I’ve been playing an instrument since the 4th grade, starting on the piano and switching to violin in 6th grade to play in my Kentucky school’s orchestra. For most students arriving in the concert hall, this is their first time hearing an orchestra, an experience that can be truly transformative.

These student field trips are even more critical as only a handful of Arizona school districts have orchestra classes or even orchestra as an extracurricular activity. My high school orchestra teacher played a pivotal role in my decision to pursue a career as a musician. He suggested that the viola, with its lower and deeper sound, would better suit my personality. It feels like a missed opportunity that local students never have the chance even to hold a stringed instrument or play one. But even if students don’t aspire to become a professional musician, hundreds of studies show the correlation between music education, brain development and academic success.

To bridge these gaps, your orchestra has embraced innovation. Our Symphony for the Schools concerts feature a behind-the-scenes look at a rehearsal, showcasing every position that makes an orchestral performance come to fruition — musicians, conductor, stage management, and production staff, to name a few. The performance pieces align with the current educational curriculum to best serve our partner schools. Our associate conductor, along with the musicians on stage, use these concepts to delve into the origins of the classical music we perform, the composers’ backgrounds, and the musical expressions in each piece. This past season, students attended “Beethoven 5th: Struggle to Triumph” and explored Beethoven’s difficulty writing a symphony as he was losing his hearing, which created one of the most recognized opening melodies.

This lesson in resilience and courage in the face of adversity resonated with our young audiences. It’s a challenge to condense hours of musical education into a few hours. Still, our aspiration is that this experience with their local symphony is just the beginning of many more.

School funding for field trip experiences has been significantly reduced since the pandemic. Some of the school districts that regularly participate in our educational programming say the transportation fees alone make attending the Symphony too expensive. As a non-profit with a mission to enrich lives in our local community, your Symphony is committed to providing Symphony for the Schools field trips to students for no cost. We urgently need your support to make this a reality.

Next season, we are hosting four family concerts on Saturdays at the Madison Performing Arts Center to bring this educational programming to our community. I, like my colleagues, hope the next generation of Arizonans loves their Symphony and sees it as an invaluable cultural asset.

Music has taken me all over the country, but I have made Arizona my home. I am passionate about making the live orchestra music I love relevant to our community, to people of all ages and backgrounds. Playing with The Phoenix Symphony has challenged me artistically and helped me celebrate many milestones as well as grieve significant losses. Not unlike you, music is the soundtrack of my life.

As one music lover to another, I am asking for your help to support this vital program. It costs approximately $5,300 for one SCHOOL to attend a Symphony for the Schools field trip. Your gift today will help schools from all over the Valley experience Arizona’s only full-time, professional orchestra.

Thank you for supporting The Phoenix Symphony. Without you, these important community initiatives would not exist. Your support today is fundamental in shaping the next generation of Symphony goers.

This is what community sounds like,

Christopher McKay,
Viola Section


P.S. The Phoenix Symphony is working with local schools now to arrange field trips for next school year. Your gift today will ensure students in Title 1 schools are not left behind and are able to attend a Symphony for the Schools performance. Visit to make your gift!










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