“Bling-a-string is an art show and a fundraiser,” said Grace Hutchison, education director for the Reno Philharmonic. “Around 30,000 kids a year are served through our education programs and our youth orchestras.”
The philharmonic has three youth orchestras that provide a high level of music experience on a variety of instruments at varying levels of intensity for children between the ages of 8 and 18, according to Hutchison. The Youth Concert Orchestra has an emphasis on training players to perform in a symphonic setting and is composed of exceptional musicians seeking a challenge in more advanced symphonic performances.
The Youth Strings Symphonia, the newest youth program, is a strings-only ensemble program that has partnered with the Washoe County School District to serve more of the community with a focus on grades 4 to 8.
“With all that has gone on economically we are still expanding our education programs,” Hutchison said. “We have worked really hard to get the Symphonia program to happen and are happy that Washoe County School District is on board with us.”
It is fundraisers like Bling-a-string that add most of the fuel to the Philharmonic’s youth programs, according to Hutchison.
“The community has been very supportive of us and I wanted to make Bling-a-string something many people would enjoy and that would give support to various groups in our local community,” Hutchison said. “It’s like an art crawl through many local businesses in downtown Reno to see the violins and every violin was done by a different artist using a variety of mediums. It’s a win-win for the art community.”
One of the violins, titled “Play Me Pretty” and painted by 17-year-old Haley Williams, is a very active portrait of a masquerade dancer balancing a musical composition book on her head. Thick, heavy brush strokes move the viewer’s eyes all over the violin, which exudes the energy of a masquerade with minimal environmental detail. The piece is hanging in Tahoe Roasting Company at the West Street Market.
Another violin, called the “Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden,” appears rooted to the granite counter at Java Jungle on First Street. The glowing pink branches reach for the light as if to escape the darkness of the ground, which is made of collaged 10-point print samples from cheap novels and newspapers. The violin, decorated by Bea Whitney, is now more tree than instrument.
“On top of having so many artists involved, it was really great to make Bling-a-string part of Artown,” Hutchison said.
The violins have been in their separate locations throughout the month of July but will convene together on the last day of Artown, Saturday at the Pioneer Center.
“The finale of the silent auction will be during the few hours (5 to 8:30 p.m.) before Laura Jackson’s premier performance as the new Phil conductor,” Hutchison said.
The performance is also the 40th anniversary of the very first Reno Philharmonic performance and has been deemed the Gershwin Gala, as the orchestra will play the music of George Gershwin.
Information about the Gershwin Gala, the Reno Philharmonic Youth Orchestras, Bling-a-string and any other Philharmonic events can be found at www.renophilharmonic.com. The violins can also be bid on through the philharmonic’s Web site until Saturday. The violins are also being displayed at the Sierra Arts Gallery, Dreamers Café, Wild River Grille, Be Abundant, Silver Peak on the River, Jungle Vino, Sasha’s Boutique, La Bussola, West Street Wine Bar, Reno eNVy in the West St. Market and Seven Teahouse and Bar in West Street Market.