Building a Future from Broken Instruments

The Philadelphia School District has more than 1,000 wounded musical instruments and no budget to fix them, a challenge familiar to many communities despite research showing the negative consequences for cutting and underfunding arts education.

So what can you do with flattened fiddles, padless saxophones, leaky clarinets, and busted-up snares? Well, Philadelphia-based Temple Contemporary showed us that if you’re ambitious enough, you can build an entire symphony.

Symphony for a Broken Orchestra is a city-wide effort focused on highlighting the Philadelphia School District’s pressing need for instrument repair. And to call attention to this need -- in perhaps the loudest way possible --  a partnership of music schools, musicians, and nonprofits worked with composer David Lange to write and perform a piece specifically for the sounds these instruments make in their broken state.

Hear the sounds of this broken orchestra and learn more about how this organization is working hard to repair instruments and return them to the schools. 

Major support for Symphony for a Broken Orchestra is provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, with additional support from the Barr Foundation and hundreds of donors. Temple Contemporary is part of Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Banner image courtesy of Temple Contemporary, Tyler School of Art.