Grant supports symphony’s work with historically black churches is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.

A "Family Night' hosted by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra as part of the Harmony Project. (Courtesy VSO)
A grant from the National Endowment for the Arts will support local activities like this “Family Night” hosted by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra as part of the Harmony Project. (Photo courtesy of the VSO)

The National Endowment for the Arts has approved a $15,000 grant to support the Virginia Symphony Orchestra’s Harmony Project.

NEA Chairman Jane Chu recently announced the approval of more than $82 million worth of grants to fund local arts projects around the country, from which the VSO will receive a $15,000 Art Works award.

The Art Works category supports the creation and continuation of programs that increase lifelong learning in the arts and public engagement with the arts, according to the VSO.

The Harmony Project, founded in 2006, is a collaborative effort between the VSO and 11 historically black churches throughout Hampton Roads. These partnerships tie into the VSO’s ongoing mission to engage with diverse communities outside of the traditional concert hall setting.

Through the Harmony Project, VSO musicians perform music alongside congregations in church services and participate in interactive “Family Nights” that aim to entertain and educate children and their families about music and orchestral instruments.

The project, which is supported in part by special funding from the City of Norfolk, also includes an annual community concert, “Songs for a Dreamer,” in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Now in its fifth year, the concert brings together the VSO’s 11 Harmony-partner congregations and members of the larger community for a tribute featuring the fusion of classical and modern music set against a background of narration by each of the Harmony Project pastors.

“The arts are all around us, enhancing our lives in ways both subtle and obvious, expected and unexpected,” Chu said. “Supporting projects like the one from the Virginia Symphony Orchestra offers more opportunities to engage in the arts every day.”

Harmony Project performances, including the “Songs for a Dreamer” concert, are free and open to the public.

To learn more about the project and the participating churches, click here.