Eight hundred more children and youth will get the chance to hear world-famous musicians and take part in educational, pre-concert workshops, thanks to an increase in support from Sun Life Financial.

Roy Thomson Hall and Massey Hall’s Share The Music program exposes about 1,800 Toronto-area youth every year to music from around the world. It seeks to challenge them and broaden their musical and artistic horizons through encounters with musicians from many genres — classical, blues, jazz and more — that they may not be familiar with. By raising its support for the program by 50%, to $120,000 over two years, Sun Life will enable 400 more kids each year to take part.

Award-winning vocalist and conductor Bobby McFerrin was a recent participant in the program. McFerrin is known for highlighting local musical resources at his shows, and the event included a pre-concert, interactive vocal workshop with Cadence, a local a capella jazz quartet. Other shows in the program this season have featured Wynton Marsalis, Itzhak Perlman and the Blind Boys of Alabama, with pre-concert chats and workshops on everything from gospel to classical piano to performance poetry.

“Share the Music provides many opportunities to awaken students to new ways of listening, seeing and thinking,” says Heather Clark, Director of Development for Roy Thomson Hall and Massey Hall. “We are delighted that Sun Life Financial is increasing its support, allowing many more students to attend these events.”

Sun Life Financial has supported Share the Music since its inception in 1999, and has been the program’s Presenting Sponsor since 2003. By opening the door to concerts, music education and workshops for children who would not otherwise have the means to attend, the support is part of the company’s award-winning Making the Arts More Accessible™ program.

Sun Life’s Assistant Vice-President of Philanthropy and Sponsorships is enthusiastic about the partnership. “We believe that arts and culture should be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of their means,” Paul Joliat says. “Sun Life has been supporting this program since day one, and for over 10 years we’ve witnessed, first-hand, the impact and power that music can have on young people’s lives.”

Sun Life Financial presents a cheque for the Share the Music program to Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall