It’s no secret: Columbia’s Candlelight Concert Society (CCS) fills the air with music. But it’s not just the air of concert halls, where audiences enjoy renowned and emerging artists and the magic of chamber music in a traditional venue.

Less known is the society’s practice of stepping out into the air of the community and bringing music to places where it tends to be a rarer, but greatly appreciated, experience, such as on-site performances for the autistic, the homeless, the hospital-bound, and those in senior and assisted living facilities or hospice care. Its work even enters the air of libraries, filling the studious silence with glorious sound.

Knowing the power of music to affect the health and well-being of human life and experience, the Outreach Program is an important part of the CCS mission. Its 2013–14 season held 32 such performances, in addition to its Chamber Music Series and CandleKids performances in Smith Theatre.

One of the year’s highlights was a violin and cello duo performance at Linwood Center, enjoyed by the school’s autistic students. This season, 20 performances are on the books, and the list is growing as opportunities continue to arise.

Since its inception in 1972, CCS has worked with the local schools. Back then, founder Norman Winkler would simply call a school and say, “We have so-and-so in town; can we come by and work with the kids?”

In 2014, the Howard County Public School System formalized a partnership with the society, which now shares artists not only in performance, but also as experts to work closely with teachers and students on musicianship, technique and practice methods. This year, CCS has adopted Talbott Springs Elementary with a Musician-in-Residence program, providing first-hand guidance through practice and presence in the creative experience.

Outreach programs cost host organizations nothing. This project is funded primarily by a grant from the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation. Overall, CCS is funded by state and federal grants, individual and corporate contributions, and ticket revenue. In some cases, partnership events with other organizations help broaden and diversify the audience.

CCS continuously seeks new resources to strengthen its programs and is an opportunity for businesses to connect with the community through sponsorships.

Believably, the more music in the air and the more ears engaging that music, the healthier and more creative the community will be. Encore!

Tim Singleton is an independant marketing and communications consultant. He can be reached at [email protected].