Eden Prairie Schools received the 2019 Meritorious Orchestra Program award from Minnesota String & Orchestra Teachers Association. The award recognizes an entire program: an outstanding school district, youth or college/university orchestra. Past president of MSOTA, Jim Bartsch, said the board recognized Eden Prairie Schools because its orchestra program is growing, it is supported by administration and has strong parent/guardian involvement.
In Eden Prairie Schools this year, nearly 700 students district-wide participate in orchestra. This includes 265 fifth- and sixth-graders, 215 at Central Middle School, and 211 at Eden Prairie High School. The district’s orchestra program starts in fourth grade with weekly small group lessons and group rehearsals. Middle school students can take orchestra as a year-long course that meets every other day. There are three 7th grade orchestra ensembles and three 8th grade ensembles and CMS has an optional chamber ensemble. At high school, there are six orchestras: 9th grade Intermezzo and Philharmonic orchestras, Symphonic, Concertino and Concert orchestras for grades 10-12. Chamber Orchestra is an audition-only, co-curricular activity.
High school orchestra teacher Angelique Rowell accepted the award on behalf of her colleagues Karin Dye, Barbara Flooding, Darrin Stohlberg, and Karin Harris. She said the broad support in Eden Prairie, especially during times when other districts have scaled back education music education, has been crucial to the orchestra program's growth and success.