FAIRFIELD — Pequot Library has been awarded a grant of $25,000 by the Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation. It supports “Meet the Orchestra,” a program co-organized with Westport-based non-profit, Music for Youth, which aims “to foster the love and knowledge of classical music in young people.” The grant will enable Pequot Library to deliver this mission to an estimated 600 students from Bridgeport Public Schools at no cost to the schools or students.

“Meet the Orchestra” introduces classical music to students through a unique orchestral program that exposes them to the repertoires of various ensembles in Pequot Library’s historically and architecturally significant Auditorium. During a one-hour concert, students hear and discuss classical music in a hands-on setting with world-class musicians, who provide strong foundational knowledge about the parts of an orchestra and the function of each instrument.

Beyond the exposure to music education, the program is structured to engage students through an interactive experience that allows them to see, hear, and touch musical instruments. It also links school and home through pre- and post-program materials that facilitate discussion between students and parents and expands students’ understanding and appreciation of the way music moves us. Since no cost is passed on to families, every student has the opportunity to participate regardless of economic status.

The Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation was founded in 2007 due to the generosity of Mrs. Cornelia Tarrant Bailey and is dedicated to the memory of both Mrs. Bailey and her husband, Glenn W. Bailey. Mr. and Mrs. Bailey supported philanthropic organizations centered on education, outreach for veterans, medical research and most significantly the arts. The Foundation’s mission is to continue their legacy by promoting “the arts, education, and initiatives that seek to better our world utilizing nature and the sciences” and to “help ensure that communities, children, and future generations have access to the arts and a quality education and to support organizations seeking to enhance the arts, improve the environment, and promote quality healthcare and medical research.”

“When we read Pequot Library’s application it was clear to us that they understood what we were trying to catalyze within the community and that everyone, from a local preschool to a community library, has the power to bring the arts and music into the hearts of children. This was the precise intention of the Trustees when we created the P/Arts program, they wanted to get into the fabric of communities and provide grass-roots grants to help create impactful art programs,” said Hayley Little, Executive Director of The Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation.

“We are grateful and humbled by the Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation’s support of our work with Music for Youth’s “Meet the Orchestra” program, and of Pequot Library as a whole,” said Executive Director, Stephanie Coakley. “Since our inception, we have sought to make our programs and services ‘free as air to all.’ Being able to provide free, exemplary orchestral music programming to students who wouldn’t otherwise have much access is an achievement at the very root of our mission. We are proud to partner with Music for Youth in this endeavor. Without the Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation and Music for Youth, this program would not be possible.”

Music for Youth is a volunteer-led non-profit organization that connects young people with professionally performed classical music through an array of inspiring programs. For the past 23 years, Music for Youth and Pequot Library have partnered to co-present the “Free Young Person’s Concert” series. These free performances, offered 7 times a year, are open to children of all ages and their families, and provide unique access to world-renowned musicians. Additional collaborations include the “Emerging Young Artists” concert series, which offers extraordinary young musicians a stage to showcase their talents, and the “Young Artists’ Cafe” series, which provides local elementary, middle, and high school students the opportunity to perform and share their music with their peers. During the 2018-2019 academic year, Pequot Library and Music for Youth introduced a “Meet the Conductor” series called ‘Close Encounters with the Greater Bridgeport Symphony’, a free, family concert program featuring Greater Bridgeport Symphony conductor, Eric Jacobson. In the same year, they also launched the “Meet the Orchestra” series for students from the Bridgeport Public Schools.

“Through our unique partnership, Pequot Library and Music for Youth are able to expose students in the Bridgeport Public Schools to world-class ensembles who share their enthusiasm and love of music. By making music accessible, exciting, and interactive, students walk away from their experience with a great appreciation for a live music experience. This experience plants the seeds of possibility and understanding that the arts are accessible and provide valuable tools that build life skills,” said Music for Youth Executive Program Director, Misty Beyer.