Nov 15, 2023

Gratefully Fulfilling Our Mission

Maestro's Monthly Blog: Gratefully Fulfilling Our Mission

In 2006, when the Philharmonic Orchestra of New Jersey officially became The Discovery Orchestra, we adopted a new mission statement: We teach the listening skills that help you really connect with classical music. How we came to adopt that statement was an interesting happenstance.

Our staff and board members attended a Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation “board building workshop” that year. One of the tasks was for each non-profit in attendance to either revise their current mission statement or craft an altogether new one that crystalized the work of the organization. One strategy employed to accomplish this was to explain in detail to the person sitting beside you – who was from a different non-profit – exactly what your organization does. That individual would then be asked to verbalize a mission statement.

Reverend Fletcher Harper of New Jersey, Founder and Executive Director of what is now GreenFaith – an international, interfaith environmental organization headquartered in New York City – patiently listened to me drone on about what the newly-named Discovery Orchestra did. He then turned and said:  “How about this? We teach the listening skills that help people really connect with classical music.”

Our staff eventually changed one word to make certain that anyone reading our mission statement would understand that we wish to extend a personal invitation to… you. We remain grateful to Reverend Harper for his ability to synthesize into a single, concise sentence what we are about at The Discovery Orchestra. We also continue to be moved by the many individuals whom we have been privileged to touch and who have taken a moment to communicate with us. Below are some of the messages we’ve received from people across the country and around the world regarding how our mission has impacted them over the years – dating from our first production, Bach to the Future, distributed by American Public Television when we were still the Philharmonic Orchestra of New Jersey.

BACH TO THE FUTURE • 2004 Emmy Nomination

“Just watched your Discovery Concert on Bach on my local PBS channel here in the Bay Area. Thank you! My entire life I always knew something rich and spiritual must be involved in the music of composers like Bach, but no one ever explained it. I was so moved that I wept during the explanations and while the orchestra played their examples. Please thank the conductor, musicians, the producers and the funders of this program. I will speak highly of you whenever the opportunity arises. Once again, thank you for enriching my understanding.”  FO from San Francisco, CA

“I really hope you will continue making shows like this. It’s a great format, especially for people like me with advanced degrees, who enjoy classical music but have had no music education whatsoever.”  CY from New York, NY

“I recorded it for my own personal viewing and would love to show it to my 7th grade math class. I teach in an inner city, gang-infested neighborhood and would like to share the program with them. I believe there are lots of mathematical connections – not to mention the admonition to really listen to some music every day. May I have your permission to show this to my students?” [Permission granted, of course.]  SH from San Antonio, TX

“I had to write you and tell you how much Bach to the Future impacted us. As a certified teacher with years of classroom experience, I now find myself home-schooling our daughter who has Down Syndrome. She is completing credits for her high school diploma, and is earning one of her credits in music appreciation. I used your Discovery Concert as part of our course. I personally found the concert very interesting, and to my delight, it kept our daughter’s attention all the way through. This concert was fantastic, and approached classical music in a way that could interest all.”  RF from Marion, IL

“Just watched and LISTENED to Bach to the Future. It was an extraordinary show. It was indeed the first time I had ever paused to actually listen to music. I found myself wishing that when I was in high school in Philadelphia and went to the Academy of Music to HEAR the Philadelphia Orchestra that there had been someone to teach me how to listen to classical music. My thanks for an incredible musical and learning experience!”  JM from Moorestown, NJ

DISCOVER BEETHOVEN’S 5th • 2012 Emmy Nomination

“Watched on Channel 20 WYCC. Your host/conductor did a wonderful job. Come to Chicago and show the Chicago Symphony Orchestra how it’s done!”  MM from Chicago, IL

“I’m greatly impressed with your excellent and valuable work. My family and I found you through a public television broadcast of your Beethoven 5th analysis, and deeply enjoyed and appreciated your insights. As a composer and arranger, I wish there were more people doing the work you are doing. I look forward to seeing more.”  TY from Salt Lake City, UT

“I’m a retired teacher and know the importance of paying attention to detail. There are other similar programs, and although I enjoy them, this show is really talking to me.”  SW from Dayton, OH


“Amazing — I never cared for classical music until tonight! I’m looking forward to Part 2 next week!”  SH from Vancouver City, WA

“Incredible! Had tears running down my face. I’ve always loved Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, but never as much as I did today on KCET.”  BH from Los Angeles, CA

“Rarely is educational television so thrilling! Thank you!”  JM from Tampa, FL

FALL IN LOVE WITH MUSIC, 8-Part Series • Two 2016 Telly Awards

“I watched the first episode of Fall in Love with Music tonight. It’s the most exciting introduction I’ve ever seen or heard to classical music. You have greatly inspired me. I look forward to viewing the remainder of your programs.”  MM from Tampa, FL

“Great series! I was born in a rural region of South America and heard music by Mozart, Beethoven and others on the radio, but I never understood anything. I was lost trying to figure out what this music was about. This series brought clarity and an understanding of the music, which I really appreciate.”  BP from St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

DISCOVER THE FIREBIRD • Two 2020 Telly Awards

“Just saw Discover the Firebird. I’m totally emotionally overwhelmed! Spectacular playing! The teaching style was wonderful – so natural and unrehearsed – like everyday conversation. Loved when the orchestra played the wrong excerpt on purpose! That really got the point across. Wonderful music and a powerful show!”  BF from Philadelphia, PA

“We loved it! So well done, educational and entertaining. We all listened so much more intently to the final playthrough than we would have without all the interactivity. Bravo!”  BR from Los Angeles, CA

“A joy to watch! This show is fantastic! As a lifelong music lover, I thought I knew this piece and Stravinsky. But the way Maestro Maull and The Discovery Orchestra break it down, so that you can clearly enjoy and see the patterns in the music, is just eye-opening! I feel like I’ve just gained a deeper understanding of how to listen to music, and not just this piece, but music in general. Thank you, Discovery Orchestra!”  M, No Location Provided


“I heard the Organ Symphony for the first time as a college freshman in 1956. I have heard it countless times since, including once in a live concert before today. But today – I heard it for the first time. Thank you so much!  LB from Philadelphia, PA

“Wow, thank you so much for this wonderful program! Your music director is a master of oral presentation and explanation. He drew in the members of the live audience – and me – to thinking and listening. My mother used to take me to orchestra concerts, but I did not perceive enough to receive that much. I resonated with the way he taught through normal conversational speech. Thanks again for expanding my consciousness!  JM from Durham, NH

“Thank you for such beautiful programs! I live in Australia and there are a lot of classical music lovers here who would appreciate The Discovery Orchestra’s mission to teach the layman. I personally would love to see your programs on Vivaldi and the Firebird Suite. Keep up your wonderful work.”  Anonymous from Australia

“The DVDs I purchased of all of your television shows are WONDERFUL. They must be among the best music documentaries/expositions ever done. Boy, am I glad I saw the Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony on our local public television station and then found The Discovery Orchestra on the internet. By the way, your website is also wonderful – I’m going to be spending a lot of time there.”  LL from Tulsa, OK


“The Discovery Orchestra is like the music teacher I never had! I devour your lessons. Thank you!”  JR from Australia

“The Piazzolla radio program was great. The comparisons were wonderful. We both loved it!”  HJ from North Carolina

Millions of viewers and listeners later – according to American Public Television and the Nielsen Corporation – we continue to create and distribute content that spreads the good news of the profound emotional rewards we can all receive through classical music listening. It truly takes a village to accomplish our mission. We are so thankful to have our wonderful staff members, trustees and production partners. And we remain grateful to all of you, our individual contributors, sponsors and followers. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!