Fairfax County Public School students arrive at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts for the Fairfax Symphony Link Up culminating concert.

The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra has been named a 2021 Dominion Energy ArtStar for its innovative music-learning program, Link Up, in partnership with Carnegie Hall. 

Five nonprofit arts organizations were honored at the Virginia Commission for the Arts, Art Works for VA virtual conference from Richmond as 2021 Dominion Energy ArtStars for inspiring people of all ages in creative endeavors. The organizations represent five regions across Virginia with annual operating budgets under $1 million. Each received a $10,000 grant to support their winning arts or cultural education program.

“The Virginia Commission for the Arts congratulates all the 2021 ArtStars Award recipients, including the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, said Janet Starke, executive director, Virginia Commission for the Arts. “This award affirms the good work being done by the FSO, and their peers from across the state, in providing meaningful access to the arts, supporting goals of increasing equity in the arts.”

“These organizations show ways the creative spirit continues to thrive – whether through outdoor, virtual or digital programming,” said Hunter A. Applewhite, president of the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation. “Virginia is very fortunate to have these talented organizations committed to serving their local communities and youth.”

Developed by the prestigious Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall, FSO’s Link Up program provides a unique opportunity for students in Grades 3-5 to come together for a shared cultural experience, while addressing the nationwide need for an effective, research-based curriculum. Fairfax Symphony is the only organization in the Washington, D.C. region collaborating with Carnegie Hall to implement the program this year.

“We are thrilled and honored to be a 2021 Dominion ArtStar in recognition of our work to serve teachers and students by implementing our much-needed Link Up education program virtually this year,” said Jonathan Kerr, executive director Fairfax Symphony Orchestra. “Our commitment to our community is stronger than ever, only strengthened by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. By sharing our concerts and education programs virtually, we are filling a critical need for quality arts programs to entertain, educate, inspire, sustain, and unite the communities we serve. This prestigious award furthers our work to provide unique, innovative, and uplifting arts experiences for thousands in Fairfax County and across our region.” 

Rather than shutting down while its concert halls are closed, the Fairfax Symphony is elevating its role in the community to provide critical education services needed now more than ever. This award is a testament to the critical role Dominion Energy and the Fairfax Symphony play in the lives of our students to provide equitable access to high quality music education that is vital for their vibrant and bright future.

Joining orchestras around the globe, FSO Link Up connects the classroom to the concert hall for thousands of students in Fairfax County and the region each year. This is the fourth year the

FSO is implementing the program, again with a focus on Title 1 schools. The decision to make Link Up the FSO’s core elementary education program was driven by the desire to reach underserved students early in their school years, where research shows that arts programs can have the greatest impact on long-term student achievement.

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