From Presenting Partners

First Covenant Church of Saint Paul

“The church where I serve, First Covenant Church of Saint Paul, has been honored to host Sinfonia concerts for as long as I have served here (fall 2002). People of all ages, from young children to senior adults, fill our sanctuary for these concerts. Our hearts and minds are filled with the wonder of music from talented musicians in the Sinfonia orchestra.

In addition, when fewer and fewer resources are going to the creative arts for our young people in St. Paul Public Schools, Sinfonia fills a gap by bringing the arts to the school, and to our students–without cost to the school. Amazing!

As a resident in the community I have benefitted from the summer concerts at Lake Phalen. Amidst all the challenges our community faces, we can gather at the park on a summer evening and escape from the challenges we often face and instead be drawn together by the wonder of music. This is such a gift to an urban community such as ours.

Jay’s passion for music and for the audiences he serves is evident in the energy he brings to conducting and in his tireless work ensuring these concerts continue for communities such as mine.”

—Rev. Anne E. Vining, Senior PastorFirst Covenant Church of Saint Paul


Basilica of Saint Mary

“Since the Minnesota Sinfonia was formed in 1989 The Basilica of Saint Mary has been pleased to host three to five concerts per year. Concerts are free, open to the public, and accessible to people of all ages, means, and abilities. These high-quality, professional performances have played an important role in fulfilling a component of The Basilica’s mission by contributing to the celebration of arts in the community. We look forward to collaborating with them long into the future.”

—John Bauer, PastorThe Basilica of Saint Mary


From Music in the Schools Partners

“Throughout my tenure at Barton, our school community had the wonderful opportunity to work closely with Jay Fishman and the Minnesota Sinfonia. Although we regularly experienced many strong programs for students emphasizing arts learning through visiting artists to the school, I can say with great confidence that the Minnesota Sinfonia program was exceptional in its commitment to depth and learning for our students, at all age levels.

The expectation was set that not only were exceptional musicians coming to play at our school in the spring, but that our students would be honored with the privilege of playing or singing along with these talented musicians for a part of the program.

There was always high energy and great excitement in the school community on the day the Minnesota Sinfonia performed for our students. Orchestra students and/or choir members practiced with the Sinfonia first thing in the morning. Many individual Sinfonia members were scheduled to visit classrooms to talk about their instrument and answer student questions about their journey as a musician. For the program itself, Jay regularly invited a professional singer and/or story teller to add another level of engagement to draw students into the power of live music…seeing the student musicians perform alongside the professional musicians was always inspiring, to our faculty, our parents and to other students.

Arts learning can be transformative when done with thoughtfulness and integrity. The Minnesota Sinfonia experience comes as close as any I ever witnessed as a principal to stretching and inspiring students, as well as the larger school community, to finding the joy and power in high quality music. Barton Open School has been very privileged to have had this long term partnership with Jay Fishman and the Minnesota Sinfonia.”

—Dr. Steven R. DeLappRetired Principal, Clara Barton Open School

“It has been a great honor to have Mr. Fishman and the MN Sinfonia perform with the orchestra students at Farnsworth Aerospace School. This wonderful opportunity provided insight on how a professional orchestra will sound like if students continue practicing and if they wanted to pursue this endeavor as a career in the future. It also has been very helpful for students to hear the different techniques shared with students to improve their playing ability and as well as their sound. By having an all-school assembly it encourages and attracts more students to join orchestra at our school. Thanks again for this wonderful opportunity!”

—Deanna Carruthers, Orchestra DirectorFarnsworth Aerospace Magnet School


From Professional Musicians

“As a member of the Sinfonia for over 17 years, I know that presenting the musical product takes a little bit of magic, but mostly a lot of hard work! I have watched Jay work tirelessly to make sure that the inner city schools experience classical music with the Music in the Schools program. Our community concerts bring world-renown soloists and top-notch performances to our audiences for free. This takes countless hours of fundraising, organizing schedules, writing music and preparing scores for rehearsal, yet when he is in front of our orchestra, his main concern is us musicians and creating the music.

In my many years as a professional musician, I know the Sinfonia is very lucky to have the talent, respect, teamwork and camaraderie that have been cultivated by Mr. Fishman over the years. With his unique talents, he has built an organization that serves Minnesota audiences and musicians in a way most artistic groups do not. Sinfonia musicians are grateful to have him at the helm!”

Laurie Hatcher Merz, Bassoon, Minnesota Sinfonia

“I have been the concertmaster of the Minnesota Sinfonia for over 30 years, and in all that time, Jay Fishman has never ceased to amaze me with his dedication and passion for the orchestra.

Jay has always believed that everyone deserves the opportunity to hear great music, so he created the Sinfonia to perform free concerts for everyone. The orchestra has now played hundreds of free concerts in Minnesota, sharing classical music with thousands of people that would not have otherwise had a chance to experience it.”

—Julia PersitzConcertmaster / Violin, Minnesota Sinfonia

“I had a pleasure and a privilege of performing with Mr. Fishman on more than one occasion. Mr Fishman is a highly accomplished performing artist with encyclopedic knowledge of music, outstanding leadership qualities as well as tremendous communication skills and personal charm. His successful career and a great many personal achievements speak for themselves.”

ILYA KALER, Concert Violinist, Violin Faculty, Cleveland Institute of Music


From Youth Outreach Week  Musicians

2018 Youth Outreach Week students after Lake Harriet Bandshell concert

What [we] liked most about Youth Outreach Week…

“Getting the opportunity to play amazing music with professional musicians showed me what being a professional might be like.”

“I learned a lot about how to lead the rest of the section by cueing, etc.”

“How to really hone in on details to play the best that we could.”

“Less watching more listening.”

“I learned how professional orchestras operate and I got the opportunity to play in an actual orchestra (something I have never done before).”

“You can be professional as well as laid back and ready to have fun at the same time.”

“I got better every night. I liked working on it with supportive professional musicians, and the student musicians were just as supportive and collaborative. My technique has improved, as well as my ability to prepare and practice efficiently.”


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