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Expansion and Renovation Impact: James McKay

Updated: Feb 6

By Eric Dundon

Educator James McKay moderates a question-and-answer session between students and violinist Randall Goosby in November 2023. The expansion of Powell Hall will facilitate more educational engagement projects like this.

Since 1921, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra has welcomed countless children to education concerts, visited their schools, and, most recently, engaged with students around the world through online programs. The cornerstone of Powell Hall’s expansion is a new, 3,660-square-foot Education and Learning Center, designed to increase partnerships with teachers, reach students in new ways, and provide inspiring programming that encourages students to get involved, and stay involved, with music.


James McKay knows the power of these programs. As a student, he was a member of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, playing alongside some of the most accomplished young musicians in the area. Now as a music educator, he passes on his knowledge and passion both as a teacher in the Hazelwood School District and as the director of music at Gateway Music Outreach, a non-profit that provides access to affordable quality instrumental music programming for underserved youth in the region. He uses the SLSO’s robust portfolio of education programming to assist in inspiring and encouraging his students.


“For many of my students, a visit to Powell Hall is their first exposure to live music,” McKay said. “I love that the SLSO is dedicating a new space to enriching the musical experience of students and their teachers.”


From the youngest listeners to budding musicians in the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, the SLSO’s new Education and Learning Center will be an important resource for the community, providing space for teachers and their students to explore the role music plays in their lives.


“I know how important music is to the development of my students,” McKay said. “And the SLSO is a true leader in engaging with these young audiences.”


Eric Dundon is the SLSO's Public Relations Director.


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