At a time when many schools are cutting funding for music, Michael Wolff is looking to share his passion for the art to a nearly unprecedented scale.
Wolff is bringing his visions behind Encore! Kids, an interactive, children-oriented orchestral performance, to Virginia. More than 10,00 children have attended his performances in North Carolina, and Wolff is hoping Virginia can help in the next step of his goal to reach over one million.
“I thought ‘what if I can create an orchestra whose main focus was to educate children?’” Wolf said, “that includes features that were audience family, very interactive and can tear down the barriers of what people typically think the orchestra is.”
The Encore! Kids program itself features scores from popular movies like Star Wars and The Sound of Music, as well as renditions of pop songs – all played by a traditional orchestra. Wolff, and others with the program, hopes it will inspire children at a young age to develop a lifelong love of music.
The first Encore! Kids program will be for children in Mecklenburg County, located immediately north of the Virginia-North Carolina boarder, later this school year. By next school year, he hopes to perform in Loudoun and Fairfax Counties, and continue growing from there. Wolff said he’s looking for offices in Leesburg now to serve as the home base for the program’s Virginia expansion.
Attendance at these concerts has doubled in each of the past few years. Ten years from now, he hopes that it will have grown to reach more than one million children.
While working to develop Encore! Kids into the same level in Virginia as its grown in North Carolina, Wolff is leading a series of smaller musical performances across the region under the umbrella of his Orchestra 2100 program as a way to drum up enthusiasm and familiarize himself with the area. Orchestra 2100 aims to appeal to audiences of all ages, and produce interactive recitals, Chamber Orchestra performances and Symphonic Pops concerts with Broadway stars.
The first of those was a classical performance at Stone Tower Winery in Leesburg on Nov. 3. Alongside acclaimed violinist Natasha Korsakova, Wolff played several classic movements by legendary composers including Beethoven and George Gershwin on piano.
In addition to his work with Orchestra 2100 and Encore! Kids, Wolff also serves as Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Carolina Philharmonic in Pinehurst, North Carolina. Performing since he was 12 years old, Wolff traveled the world putting on shows and collaborating with other artists before focusing on sharing his passions with younger generations.
“Our mission is to transform the lives of children through interactive orchestral experience programs,” Wolff said. “If the local community embraces and shares our vision, we hope to in some way add another voice to this vibrant region.”