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Congratulations to Pro Musica on reaching your 40th season. It promises to be a good one.

Pro Musica brings musicians to Joplin each year through a series of classical music concerts, often focusing on chamber music, which is classical music but for a smaller ensemble and for a smaller setting. These groups often fill their tours with performances all over the world.

We applaud Pro Musica for continuing its mission of giving everyone equal access to classical music. In reality, that means the chamber music concerts always have free admission. Think about what that means for parents, for example, who want to give their children exposure to something a little different. Tickets for these types of ensembles could go for $25 apiece in other venues, and a $100 cost could be a significant burden for a family of four.

But if that weren't enough, Pro Musica strives to do even more than bring world-class musicians to our little corner of the world.

Its mission also emphasizes audience development and cultural literacy, and the organization promotes both of those through its arts education program. Through that program, each ensemble that visits Joplin engages with the community at least once outside of its contracted performance — often through concerts or workshops for our local students.

In Joplin, that means each fourth and fifth grade pupil gets the opportunity to attend a more informal concert (usually by a string ensemble) and meet with the musicians. Given that that's the age when Joplin students can begin learning a string instrument in school, it can be a hugely instructive introduction to the world of classical music.

The program also extends outside the school district, as Pro Musica brings these ensembles occasionally to places such as assisted living facilities, nursing homes and women's shelters. What a terrific idea to ensure that everyone in the community has a chance to hear this genre of music.

If you're unsure of classical music and haven't yet checked out a Pro Musica concert, now is the time to do so. The first performance, by the Miro (string) Quartet, is Sept. 19. We'll see you there.

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