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Where audiences are taken inside the musical experience from the “performers’ perspective.”

Doreen Rao

Participation Programs for Orchestra, Choir and Audiences


Designed for audience participation, Sing with the Symphony is an “educational style” concert program of song-related orchestral music inspired by Leonard Bernstein’s commitment to the music education of American audiences. Developed by Doreen Rao for orchestra-choir collaborations, the song-related symphonic programs are designed to bring the public inside the world of music through singing.

Sing with the Symphony is generally a 50-55 minute concert program developed to keep family and/or young audiences fully engaged in the musical experience. Rao’s singing approach to music listening unites the performers and the public as a “community-in-concert.” Audiences are guided in the singing of short songs or motives excerpted from the selected performance repertoire. Supported by the choir, audiences are taken inside the musical experience from the “performers’ perspective.”

Program Details

Sing with the Symphony concert programs are performed by a symphonic or chamber-sized orchestra in collaboration with a local choir. The on-stage singers serve as “vocal mentors” to the audience. Doreen Rao directs, narrates and conducts the interactive program.

Sing with the Symphony programs are individually shaped to suit the unique artistic, educational and cultural requirements of the particular orchestra and it's community.

Each concert program opens with a short overture and is followed by narration related to the repertoire, occasion and audience demographic.

Role of the Orchestra

The orchestra plays throughout the program.

For each different segment of the concert program, the orchestra plays a complete song statement excerpted from the repertoire.

The played segment is followed by a short and engaging "narration," with the conductor and choir guiding the audience in singing a unison version of the related song.

The choir may perform a “choral” version of the song material. (This segment is optional, added only if the guest choir agrees to prepare a choral version in advance.) It is valuable for an audience to hear the beautiful vocal tone of a choir modeling the excerpted material.

The orchestra then plays the full movement or complete excerpt in its entirety. The choir and the audience join the orchestral performance on cue when the song segment begins.

Each work on the program follows a similar format. Shorter works can be performed without audience participation.

Role of the Choir

The choir prepares the song segments and/or the choral versions of the selected repertoire.

Choirs are prepared by their respective directors, usually in consultation with Doreen Rao and/or orchestra management.

The choir acts as on-stage “musical mentors,” leading audience participation segments and modeling concert etiquette and performance behaviors throughout the program.


Audiences can learn the simple song statements and/or motives quickly in the performance context of the concert itself.

Optional programs may be prepared to include the performance repertoire and the notated song excerpts.

Optional advanced preparation documents can be made available and distributed before the concert. Such "preparation kits" or "instructions" from the sponsoring organization (available digitally) would include the unison song lines accompanied by simple directions and concert information.

OPTIONAL Pre-Concert “Singposium”

A pre-concert Singposium can be organized as a performance rehearsal to precede the orchestra's performance call.

With conductor, piano and choir only, the audience is engaged in a 10-15 minute rehearsal before the orchestra concert begins.

With the pre-concert Singposium, or “performance rehearsal,” the audience is prepared musically by the conductor and choir.

This pre-orchestra time together helps establish a "concert relationship" between the conductor and audience before the actual concert performance begins.