About the Boston Landmarks Orchestra
The Boston Landmarks Orchestra was founded in 2001 by the late Charles Ansbacher as an extension of his desire to make the arts a significant part of people’s lives, regardless of their wealth or education. In its earliest years, the orchestra performed in such historically important settings as Fenway Park, the USS CONSTITUTION pier, Jamaica Pond, Franklin Park, Copley Square, Boston Common, and other landmark locations. Since 2007, its principal home has been at the DCR’s Hatch Memorial Shell.
Following Maestro Ansbacher’s death in September 2010, Christopher Wilkins was appointed Music Director in April 2011.
It was during Maestro Wilkins’ first season that the orchestra created its first Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities. The orchestra implemented numerous suggestions from the group including a talking website, braille and large-type concert programs, and volunteer ambassadors to help people who are mobility impaired at the Hatch Shell. In addition, it collaborated with Boston Lyric Opera in the orchestra’s first American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted performance. That effort was expanded to provide other experiences for the Deaf community. Working with deaf specialists, the orchestra began to work with interpreters as performers. For example, three performances at the Hatch Shell in 2013 included ASL interpretation of the music, featuring the first official ASL interpretation of the “I Have a Dream” speech, performed by a deaf artist. (To see the official ASL version of the “I Have a Dream” speech, click here.)
To underscore his belief in the power of culture to build community, in 2012 Wilkins also announced his 20/20 Vision, through which the Boston Landmarks Orchestra will, by the year 2020, provide all residents of Boston’s 20 diverse neighborhoods opportunities to be involved in its programs both at the Hatch Shell and in the neighborhoods. Most significantly, the orchestra launched Notes in the Neighborhoods, a series of outreach programs and family concerts to engage the hearts and minds of young people and adults. Among these were “instrument playgrounds” – short presentations through which families and children could interact with musicians and learn about the families of instruments in the orchestra.
The orchestra has also embarked on collaborations with other organizations, including the Conservatory Lab Charter School, Boston Lyric Opera, the Museum of African American History, and a host of others. Music students from area schools, including Berklee College of Music, the Longy School of Music of Bard College, and the New England Conservatory of Music, join in these outreach efforts.