Mercury In-School Music Workshops Awarded NEA Funding
(Houston, TX) May 10, 2016: National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $82 million to fund local arts projects and partnerships in the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2016. Included in this announcement is an Art Works award of $10,000 in support of Mercury’s innovative cross-disciplinary, bilingual musical education workshops performed in Houston Independent School District.
Mercury’s Executive Director Brian Ritter says, “Since its inception fifteen year ago, Mercury has always been conscious of the great importance of music education in Houston, especially in schools that lack funding for the arts. We are so pleased that the NEA has become our partner through an Art Works grant, helping us to continue creating unique ways of connecting curriculum to live performance, stimulating the imagination, and showing that learning extends far beyond the classroom.”
Funding will go specifically towards the development of Mercury’s upcoming workshop, It’s All Relative! The program, designed by Education Manager Andrés González, juxtaposes science and music, taking students back in time to meet three of the most influential scientists in history: Galileo Galilei, Sir Isaac Newton, and Albert Einstein, portrayed by Mercury musicians. Interviewed by a narrator (Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, also portrayed by a musician), our scientists demonstrate experiments representative of their work. Each is paired also with a prominent musical composer of their time, respectively Claudio Monteverdi, G.F. Handel and Benjamin Britten. Through performances of the composers’ works, students experience the historical evolution of musical styles. Viewing important historical facts through the lens of the culture of the time opens doors to an understanding for how the music and art of an era can, and does, influence many facets of our history. The workshops are available in both English and Spanish and are TEKS-curriculum aligned.
“The arts are all around us, enhancing our lives in ways both subtle and obvious, expected and unexpected,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Supporting projects like the one from Mercury offers more opportunities to engage in the arts every day.” The Art Works category supports the creation of work and presentation of both new and existing work, lifelong learning in the arts, and public engagement with the arts through 13 arts disciplines or fields.
Founded in 2000, Mercury has a mission to serve the community by celebrating the power of music, Baroque and beyond, teaching, sharing and performing with passion, intimacy and excellence. The orchestra offers performances of a broad repertoire of music on period instruments and has garnered critical acclaim around the world through innovative and accessible performances, domestic and international tours, and groundbreaking music education programs.