The Area Agency on Aging and Disability, a division of Southeast Tennessee Development, has a partnership with the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera for the Lifelong Learning Musical Caravan Project. Through the project—one of 19 funded by the Tennessee Arts Commission through its Creative Aging TN grant program—CSO string and wind quintets will conduct a total of 10 performances at senior centers throughout southeast Tennessee.
With more baby boomers retiring and the number of people in their 70s and 80s on the rise, communities face new challenges when it comes to meeting the transportation, housing, nutrition, and health care needs of older adults. This demographic shift is especially evident in many rural communities, where the 65+ age group is projected to exceed 30 percent of the population by 2030. But beyond these basic needs, today’s seniors seek opportunities for social engagement, recreation and leisure activities, and a vibrant cultural and arts scene—events that enrich their lives and encourage them to age in place in their home communities.
The Musical Caravan Project provides an opportunity to engage seniors and promote lifelong learning. Studies show that musical performances in live settings lead to increased cognitive stimulation, social engagement, and community enrichment. Because the project brings CSO musicians directly to local senior centers, those with limited means or who are unable to travel to Chattanooga for a CSO concert will be able to experience a classical music performance in their own community.
CSO musicians have been performing across the greater Chattanooga region for years. Through the Ensembles in Schools program, musical quintets perform at elementary, middle, and high schools in 12 counties. The Out & About program brings performances to regional libraries, museums, community centers, hospitals, and other community locations. In addition to its regular concert series based in Chattanooga, the CSO also features sensory friendly concerts, annual Young People’s Concerts, and other special events. This Musical Caravan Project represents a new opportunity to directly engage the region’s seniors and rural communities.
The Southeast Tennessee Area Agency on Aging and Disability supports the operations of senior centers in 10 counties. These centers provide hot meals, health workshops, and active programming for older adults. The AAAD organizers are excited that the Creative Aging TN grant program will bring CSO musicians to all 10 counties in its service area. Stops along the tour include senior centers in Bledsoe, Bradley, Grundy, Hamilton, Marion, McMinn, Meigs, Polk, Rhea, and Sequatchie Counties. As the performance schedule is finalized, details will be posted on the CSO website at http://chattanoogasymphony.org/.