Palm Beach Symphony ‘nurtures soul’ of north county with expansion

4:17 p.m Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016 Local

As David McClymont started orchestrating the Palm Beach Symphony’s future, he realized everybody would benefit from the musicians working in closer harmony with the community.

The symphony began its outreach efforts about two years ago, starting with a campaign to collect instruments for schools that needed them. Top musicians started giving coaching sessions to young students, McClymont, the symphony’s executive director said.

Now, the symphony is expanding its presence into northern Palm Beach County with a 7:30 p.m. Jan. 27 performance at Benjamin Hall at The Benjamin Upper School, 4875 Grandiflora Rd., in Palm Beach Gardens. Tickets start at $25.

The full symphony’s performances have typically been in the historic venues of Palm Beach island.

Artistic and Music Director Ramón Tebar said people who think the symphony is only for the elite often find their prejudices dismantled when they hear the music for the first time. Music is “the universal language,” unlike art or literature, which can require a shared language or historical context to appreciate, he said.

“A society who doesn’t pay attention to its cultural inheritance is not nurturing its soul,” Tebar said.

The symphony is composed of about 70 to 90 musicians working together to produce the perfect natural sound, he said. Tebar will lead the performance of two romantic symphonies — Robert Schumann’s No. 1 and Johannes Brahms’ No. 4 — at next week’s concert.

Enjoying symphonic music, just like fine dining, requires time, Tebar said.

“What it needs is time for people to see it, to forget about the troubles of daily life, and just enjoy it and pay attention and concentrate,” he said.

Claudio Jaffe, primary cellist, said it’s “fantastic” the symphony is expanding beyond the island — and it’s time. One of the great aspects of the arts in America is that they’re primarily funded by the people rather than the government, he said.

“It’s something that belongs to the community, and it’s built by the community,” Jaffe.

Jupiter resident Leslie Blum can’t read music, but she can appreciate it. A board member and chair of the symphony’s development committee, she tried about a decade ago to bring performances to Jupiter. There wasn’t enough demand at that time.

The demographics of the symphony’s audience are changing, though, which McClymont chalks up to aggressive marketing and the success of community collaboration.

Supporters now come from as far south as Boca Raton and as far north as Stuart, he said. The symphony has quite a few followers in Jupiter and Palm Beach Gardens.

That’s good news to Blum.

“Music belongs in our life. It’s part of our culture,” she said. “I think people are missing it if they don’t listen and come to our concerts.”