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The former child prodigy Midori will take her violin on tour to 25 New York City schools this fall as part of an effort to rejuvenate arts education in the city.

The 22-year-old native of Japan founded "Midori and Friends" in 1992 to promote the importance of music in the lives of children.

As a result of funding cuts, two-thirds of New York City elementary schools lack art or music programs, the nonprofit group asserts.

Several artists will join Midori in the free performance series, including the pianist Emanuel Ax, the Manhattan Brass Quintet, the Big Apple Jazz Sextet, and the Quartet of the Americas. The students will be encouraged to write about the concerts.

The outreach project also includes professional-development workshops, follow-up visits by the artists, and curricula for further study.

The Metropolitan Life Foundation has awarded nine $15,000 grants to arts organizations that have launched educational outreach partnerships.

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago will use its award to educate junior high school students about art history, public speaking, and teaching techniques.

Student participants later serve as docents, leading museum tours.

The other recipients are: the Florida Studio Theater of Sarasota, Fla.; the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago; the Whirlwind Performance Company in Chicago; the Rensselaer County Council for the Arts in Troy, N.Y., the Pittsburgh Symphony Society; the Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston; the Houston Ballet; and the Houston Grand Opera.

The Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra will reach out to a new generation this fall: one that sits on the floor instead of in the Academy of Music's plush red seats, and one that clasps teddy bears instead of opera glasses.

This month, the world-renowned orchestra will launch its first concert series for preschoolers.

Although the orchestra has performed for schoolchildren for more than 50 years, the series will be its first aimed at 3- to 6-year-olds.

It is designed for families, child-care centers, and preschools.

Orchestra members will teach youngsters the basic building blocks of music through short demonstrations, stories, and hands-on activities.

--Meg Sommerfeld

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