Music education for area schoolchildren just got a big boost with a $600,000 donation to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

The two-year grant from the West Bloomfield-based Dresner Foundation will allow the DSO to start a new, entry-level performance program for children to be named the Dresner Foundation Allegro Ensemble.

The program will be part of the DSO’s Wu Family Academy that includes the Civic Youth Ensembles for older students. There will be no charge for the Dresner Ensemble, which will accept elementary-age children with no previous musical experience.

DSO spokesman Ben Breuninger said the age range, which is still under discussion, would probably be elementary school grades 4-6.

The DSO will provide instruments, materials and commit to scholarships so the young musicians can age into the Civic Youth Ensembles, which include individual instruction with DSO musicians and the opportunity to play in an ensemble setting.

About 1,000 students this year are participating in youth ensemble programs.

To make access to the new after-school Dresner Ensemble as easy as possible, the program will host auditions at local schools, and instruction will take place in a Detroit neighborhood, not at the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center.

The Dresner grant also will enable the DSO to expand its long-running Educational Concert Series, as well as performance webcasts to schools through “Live from Orchestra Hall: Classroom Edition.”

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