For more than four decades, the Long Beach Symphony has partnered with the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) to share the magic of music. Through this relationship, nearly one million children have been the beneficiaries of musical education.
Annual opportunities range from small elementary school ensembles to large Toyota Youth Concerts, where hundreds of youngsters watch the Symphony perform at the Performing Arts Center’s Terrace Theater.
When they attended LBUSD elementary schools, Long Beach natives Josephine Molina and Heather Rudy both took field trips to see the Long Beach Symphony play. Now adults, the two said the visit was a meaningful memory that led them to launch the RuMBa Foundation and give Long Beach children greater access to art experiences. The foundation’s name honors the family names of Rudy, Molina, and Battiste.
In fall 2015, the RuMBa Foundation connected with LBUSD schools. Over the past eight semesters, the Foundation gifted $625,000 through 133 individual grants at 44 LBUSD school sites. This year, Molina said RuMBa will continue to assist LBUSD, but also extend its reach by offering off-campus opportunities to students and their family members.
“We are looking to expand to nonprofits in the city that focus on bringing the arts to children K-12,” Molina said. “Personally, I hope to allow children and families who have never had the opportunity to see a concert to know the joy that I felt on my first trip to the symphony.”
Rudy concurred: “Being able to see the instruments played as well as hear them is such an amazing experience. We want to have as many people share that experience as possible.”
To that end, RuMBa recently committed $300,000 to support the Long Beach Symphony’s Family Concert Series over the next five years. The series is designed to offer a fun, interactive, entertaining, educational, and affordable experience and help families create lifelong memories, according to Long Beach Symphony President and CEO Kelly Lucera.
The Family Concert is an annual Sunday matinee Symphony performance that is free to children younger than 18. Family members are encouraged to join youngsters at the show, with low or no-cost tickets available as needed. In addition to the performance, attendees can enjoy an instrument petting zoo, face painting, story time, and arts and crafts on site. Long Beach Transit provides free roundtrip bus transportation on the Symphony Express, which runs from the Michelle Obama Library to the Long Beach Performing Arts Center.
“We felt this was a perfect opportunity for the foundation moving forward,” Molina said.
With initial support from the Earl B. and Lorraine H. Miller Foundation, the Port of Long Beach, and the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center, the Family Concert Series started in 2018; nearly 3,000 children and adults attended the shows in 2018 and 2019.
From now on, the series will be known as the RuMBa Foundation Family Concerts. The first one, which will be sea-themed, will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 31, 2020. Free musical activities will be offered from noon to 4 p.m. on the plaza of the Terrace Theater.
“The concert is a themed, age-appropriate, interactive experience that has children and their families conducting, pantomiming, dancing, and singing,” Lucera said. “The vision and generosity of the RuMBa Foundation guarantees that all children will attend for free and low income families can enjoy this fun musical festival at no cost.”
For information about the RuMBa Foundation Family Concert Series, or other performances by the Long Beach Symphony, go to www.LongBeachSymphony.org.