Toledo Symphony Orchestra One of Nineteen U.S. Orchestras to Receive League of American Orchestrasí Futures Fund Grant

Grant to Support Research into the Effects of Classical Music as a Component of Psychotherapy for Clients Diagnosed with PTSD

Published Thursday, July 11, 2019 10:00 am

The Toledo Symphony Orchestra (TSO) is just one of nineteen U.S. orchestras to receive a grant from the League of American Orchestras to support innovation and organizational learning. The two-year American Orchestras’ Future Fund grants, in the amount of $80,000–$150,000 each, are made possible by the generous support of the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.

“This forward-looking work—on stage, in the community, and within the organizations themselves—is essential for the evolution of the art form and the institutions that perform it,” said Jesse Rosen, the League’s President and CEO. “The Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation has been a catalyst for innovation, and we are grateful for their vision and support.”

“The initiatives represented by the first two grant cycles far exceeded our expectations,” said Lisa Delan, Director of the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation. “The level of press attention many of these programs received reflects the timeliness of these efforts and makes clear there is much to gain by venturing outside of our comfort zones and carving new pathways through which to connect with our audiences and our communities. We look forward in anticipation to what this next round brings.”

“We are honored to be one of the nineteen orchestras in the U.S. to receive this special grant,” says Zak Vassar, President & CEO of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra. “The Futures Fund grant opens many doors for us, and we couldn’t be more excited to collaborate with the University of Toledo on a two-year project exploring the psychological effects of experiencing classical music. Through this collaboration, we are able to advance the state of the performing arts, not just in our community but across the globe.”

This year’s Futures Fund grants demonstrate the innovative measures orchestras are taking to grow their audiences and increase their relevance. Programs receiving support include engagement of individuals with PTSD; research on the effects of music education on the emotional, social, and neural development of children; new uses of digital marketing; and partnerships with universities, public and private school systems, and other nonprofits to create new musical experiences.

The two-year project begins with a study examining the effects of specific pieces of classical music on targeted emotional experiences in participants with PTSD symptoms. The second phase of the study will involve interactions between symphonic musicians trained and supervised by music therapists and clients receiving psychological treatment for PTSD. This second study will help determine if interactions with music and musicians may improve treatment engagement and outcomes among individuals with PTSD. Findings from these research studies will aid the TSO in establishing guidelines for incorporating music into existing mental health treatments.

"The Futures Fund program not only supports forward-thinking research, it also aims to bring together diverse elements of the community in the spirit of collaboration,” says Jason Rose, Associate Professor of Psychology and Experimental Coordinator at the University of Toledo. “It is our hope is that obtaining funding for this project will open up an ongoing and productive relationship between the Psychology Department at UT and the TSO."

“PTSD is a serious mental health disorder,” says Matthew Tull, Professor of Psychology at the University of Toledo. “Although there are a number of effective psychological treatments available for PTSD, some clients may find it difficult to connect with and process their emotions during these treatments. This collaborative project between the Toledo Symphony Orchestra and the Department of Psychology at the University of Toledo is exciting in that it may identify a novel way to facilitate and improve PTSD treatment.”

This is the third round of the League’s $4.5 million American Orchestras’ Futures Fund program; previous grants were announced in 2017 and 2018. For this latest round, U.S.-based orchestras that are members of the League of American Orchestras were eligible to apply. An independent peer review panel selected the orchestras based on criteria including the organization’s capacity to respond and adapt to opportunities and changed circumstances, and the potential for artistic, internal, community, public value, and field-wide impact.

This round’s 2019 recipients include:

Boston Symphony Orchestra (MA)—support for the creation of the Tanglewood Learning Institute (TLI), a new adult-learning initiative designed to build new audiences and deepen relationships with current attendees. Launching this summer at Tanglewood, the TLI will offer year-round programming in the Berkshires, Boston, and beyond.

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (OH)—to support Proof, an experimental three-year project comprising nine performances designed to develop a new generation of patrons and innovate the orchestral concert experience, including implementing enhanced evaluation and outcomes sharing.

The Cleveland Orchestra (OH)—an evaluation of its Members Club program, an innovative mobile-app loyalty program built for patrons not being served by traditional subscriptions. Funds will allow the orchestra to identify those components of the program that are driving patron loyalty, and to further evaluate Members Club and other programs.

Detroit Symphony Orchestra (MI)—expansion of the orchestra’s multi-disciplinary programming stream known as The CUBE to attract new audiences, develop new earned revenue, and activate The Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center’s campus as a community hub for arts engagement.

Eugene Symphony (OR)—support for the implementation and evaluation of its “Amplify Eugene” programming, designed to attract new and broader audiences by aligning the symphony’s artistic, engagement, and resource development efforts with issues and organizations that reflect the values and interests of the local community.

Los Angeles Philharmonic Association (CA)—to support the Association’s YOLA at Camino Nuevo initiative and a related partnership with the University of Southern California Brain and Creativity Institute (BCI). YOLA at Camino Nuevo is the program’s fourth site and its first in-school model to provide free music and academic programming in underserved communities.

Minnesota Orchestra (MN)—supporting the Minnesota Orchestra’s new model for musical diplomacy: a suite of innovative community engagement and artistic initiatives that will bring an increasingly diverse community together through musical exchanges that prioritize collaboration, reciprocity, and mutual understanding.

Nashville Symphony (TN)—to support the next phase of the symphony’s work around equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging, which involves continued anti-racism training, engaging the community, conducting an internal analysis of the institution, and developing a long-range plan for transformation.

New Haven Symphony Orchestra (CT)—expansion of the symphony’s Harmony Fellowship for Underrepresented Musicians, adding one conducting fellowship, one arts administration fellowship, and one board fellowship. This expansion brings diversity to all areas of the symphony’s operations, facilitating evolution in the areas of inclusion, equity, and access.

New York Philharmonic (NY)—development of new ways to advance classical music through innovative concert experiences and new cross-sector community partnerships. This will be done through an inventive artistic model that is built on thematic anchors and thought-provoking discussions around art and ideas.

Orchestra of St.  Luke’s (NY)—to implement an evidence -based digital initiative that will serve audience development goals and a new artistic vision for how an orchestra can thrive in a digital landscape. Guided by original market research, the orchestra will create digital content for today’s audiences.

Oregon Symphony (OR)—support for the Hispanic Audience and Community Engagement (HACE) project. The initiative is designed to foster audience development and cultural inclusion with Oregon’s Hispanic population. The two-phase project will examine programming, education work, and organizational culture through this lens.

Phoenix Symphony (AZ)—the design and implementation of live musical interventions for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The symphony will further its research on investigating the relationship of live music and stress levels for people and caregivers dealing with ADRD by working with local veteran groups.

Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (MN)—support innovative digital marketing efforts to increase digital audience engagement with SPCO livestreams and on-demand videos through its free online Concert Library. Funds will amplify their ability to test different approaches with the ultimate goal of creating a digital audience that is the same size as the SPCO’s in-person audience.

San Francisco Symphony (CA)—the launch of the Collaborative Artistic Leadership Model, a new initiative that grows directly out of the SoundBox Series of innovative performances in a club-like venue. This initiative will bring together eight artists who will have the freedom to consider new media technologies, alternative staging or environments, and hybridized art forms.

Seattle Symphony (WA)—to support to support the creation and premiere of Community Compositions for the mainstage Beethoven Festival. The symphony will commission three Community Compositions for the festival, all done collaboratively with nonprofits, schools, composers, symphony musicians and staff, who will jointly compose and perform them.

Toledo Symphony (OH)—building a partnership between the Toledo Symphony and the University of Toledo to examine ways that classical music can help those with anxiety disorders or post-traumatic stress disorder better manage and direct their emotions, leading to improvements in mood, functioning, and quality of life.

Utah Symphony (UT)—to support the symphony in conducting research in a new market for the orchestra and in formulating a new residency model for the community surrounding Utah Valley University. Demographics of this region point to a challenging and informative process as the symphony cultivates a new audience base in the area.

Virginia Symphony Orchestra (VA)—expansion of its community engagement programming by piloting three different formats of sensory-friendly concerts, including one in partnership with a local performing arts center.  The orchestra’s sensory-friendly concerts will celebrate neurodiversity in all its forms, making special physical and programmatic accommodations for those on the autism spectrum and with sensory sensitivities.

About the Toledo Symphony Orchestra
The Toledo Symphony Orchestra is a community-supported organization of professional musicians and teachers who deliver quality performance and music education for all.

Formed in 1943 as The Friends of Music and incorporated in 1951 as the Toledo Orchestra Association, Inc., the Toledo Symphony Orchestra (TSO) has grown from a core group of twenty-two part-time musicians to a regional orchestra that employs sixty-nine professional musicians who consider the Toledo Symphony their primary employer, as well as numerous extra players annually as repertoire demands.

On January 1, 2019, the Toledo Ballet and Toledo Symphony officially merged to form the Toledo Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA), a new non-profit organization dedicated to providing exceptional live music and dance performances and education for the region. This partnership promises to create new and invigorating programs, provide cost and revenue synergies in operations, and integrate the arts through shared educational missions.

The Toledo Symphony reaches more than 260,000 individuals annually through performances and education programs. The series concerts (Masterworks, Pops, Chamber, Mozart in the Afternoon, and Family Series) are the critical underpinning of the orchestra’s artistic mission and regularly draw people from 135 postal zip codes. Education programs, student performances, and community concerts are held in schools, neighborhood churches, performing arts centers, and community facilities throughout the region; many are offered at no charge or provided at a reduced fee to help expand participation.

About the League of American Orchestras
The League of American Orchestras leads, supports, and champions America’s orchestras and the vitality of the music they perform. Its diverse membership of more than 2,000 organizations and individuals across North America runs the gamut from world-renowned orchestras to community groups, from summer festivals to student and youth ensembles, from conservatories to libraries, from businesses serving orchestras to individuals who love symphonic music. The only national organization dedicated solely to the orchestral experience, the League is a nexus of knowledge and innovation, advocacy, and leadership advancement. Its conferences and events, award-winning Symphony magazine, website, and other publications inform people around the world about orchestral activity and developments. Founded in 1942 and chartered by Congress in 1962, the League links a national network of thousands of instrumentalists, conductors, managers and administrators, board members, volunteers, and business partners. Visit

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