Baltimore Symphony Orchestra OrchKids host community cleanup effort, music festival

Second annual Green Festival takes place July 23-24 in West Baltimore

String quartet players in lime green t-shirts perform under a tent

Image caption: A string quartet performs at the inaugural OrchKids Green Festival in 2015.

Credit: Colin Sorgi

This weekend, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra OrchKids—a year-round music program that puts instruments in the hands of students from Baltimore City Public Schools—will hold its second annual Green Festival.

The all-day community event, which celebrates a West Baltimore trash collection effort, will take place Sunday in Baltimore's Carroll Park and feature a number of Peabody Institute alumni as musical guests.

Closeup of a girl with a musical note painted in white on her cheek

Image caption: The BSO OrchKids' 2015 Green Festival in West Baltimore.

Image credit: Colin Sorgi

OrchKids includes a number of Peabody alumni and faculty among its staff and music teachers; Peabody is also an OrchKids community partner and educational consultant. It held its first Green Fest last year as part of its continued efforts to bring OrchKids students and their families from the east and west sides of the city together for a common goal.

"I would constantly think on how our environment is often a reflection of our well-being and how we view our measure of self-worthiness," says Camille Delaney, OrchKids senior site manager at the Lockerman-Bundy Elementary School in West Baltimore and a Peabody alum.

Delaney says that when she was developing the festival, she thought about the fact that West Baltimore—like many areas in disinvested parts of Baltimore—is often associated with abandoned houses, litter, and crime.

"This festival gives our students the opportunity to not only express their worth musically in our program every year, but in their environment as well," she says. "In essence, the Green Festival is meant to give yet another alternate avenue for them to start to demand a change in the thinking of what is 'worth' investing in in West Baltimore."

At the 2015 Green Fest, participants collected about 20 bags of trash in the neighborhood around the school on the day of the festival. This year, the community cleanup effort takes place the day before the festival and will target three areas in the Lockerman-Bundy neighborhood. Colin Sorgi, OrchKids publication coordinator and a Peabody alum, notes that community members, OrchKids students and families, and people from local corporations and fraternities and sororities have volunteered for cleanup teams, and more volunteers would certainly be welcome. To get involved, visit the Green Fest website.

The festival will feature local food trucks and a performance by headliner and Peabody alumna Chelsea Green and the Green Project. Other performers include violinist Jina Lee and the Nova Quattuor string quartet, the Short Notice Brass Band, vocalists Melissa Wimbish and Britt Olsen-Ecker, saxophonist Russell Kirk—all of which include Peabody preparatory or conservatory alumni—in addition to Baltimore vocal artist/beatboxer Shodekeh.

For the OrchKids staff, the Green Festival provides another vital opportunity to extend its mission outside of the classroom.

"Simple things like hosting festivals, larger farmer's markets, and other events," Delaney says, "is one valuable way of saying, 'Hey, this is a place worth coming to; this is a place I can spend my time and advocate for the things I want to see.'"