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Oscar’s Orchestra hits high note

The world's biggest orchestra will take the stage in the U.S. next year thanks to Oscar's Orchestra, an animated series designed to encourage children to listen to classical music....
December 1, 1997

The world’s biggest orchestra will take the stage in the U.S. next year thanks to Oscar’s Orchestra, an animated series designed to encourage children to listen to classical music.

Organizers of the event will recruit more than 3,000 kids to play in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in April 1998. The child musicians will be recruited nationwide through a variety of promotions, including a competition in conjunction with Hilton Hotels and local newspapers throughout the U.S. giving kids the chance to represent their state in the orchestra. The Music Educators National Conference is also participating, with each of its 70,000 music teacher members having the chance to enter their students in a competition to win places in the orchestra.

‘When you’ve got 70,000 music teachers promoting the event and promoting the characters and encouraging children to watch the show, it’s an example of how you can have a program that children genuinely enjoy that has valid educational spin-offs,’ says Anthony Bouchier, executive director of The Quintus Group, the event’s organizer.

The cartoon, which debuted on the BBC in 1995 and now airs in more than 50 territories worldwide, tells the story of Oscar (whose voice is supplied by actor Dudley Moore), a grand piano that has been locked up and forgotten. When Oscar is rediscovered, he finds himself in a world where classical music has been banned. Together with a cast of other animated instruments, Oscar fights to fill the world with music.

Kauffman’s, a regional department store, will be funding local radio and press advertising to recruit children in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and upstate New York. In addition, a watch-and-win promotion will begin in January on the more than 75 U.S. stations carrying the show.

The event will attempt to break the previous record for the world’s largest orchestra of 2,845, set in Birmingham, England, in 1996. The Birmingham orchestra was also the result of a promotion involving the animated series.

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