From a middle school show choir, to a high school jazz ensemble, to dance students and creative writers, about 1,000 Central Florida K-12 students will participate next month in the inaugural UCF Celebrates the Arts 2015 festival at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

Their involvement blends equal parts education, performance and opportunity during the free April 10-15 festival, which also will showcase university students and faculty members’ presentations of studio art, music, theatre, dance, gaming, animation, photography and film all in one venue for the first time.

The component to include elementary through high school students at the event was added by Jeff Moore, director of the UCF School of Performing Arts and artistic director of the festival, who wanted to offer them workshops, clinics and the opportunity to perform at the new downtown Orlando arts center.

The festival’s regional outreach is a welcome occasion for young students who are aspiring musicians, said Debbie Fahmie, fine and performing arts resource specialist for the Osceola County School District.

“That UCF is including some of our students is very exciting to us,” Fahmie said. “Anytime they put their footprints in a venue like this, it raises their expectations of themselves and opens a whole new world of opportunities.”

The final three days of the festival, April 13-15, will include activities for the young students to learn some new music techniques and show what they can do.

Kelly Miller, coordinator of music education at UCF, said the groundwork for the educational component of the festival was started last summer when school arts supervisors were contacted about signing up for all the different opportunities.

 “We wanted to attract all grade levels in public and community schools,” she said. “We’ve never done anything like this before.”

As a result, the three-day schedule with clinics lead by UCF professors and guest instructors was set up to accommodate a variety of the arts:

  • April 13 – clinics for instrumental musicians during the day with a 6:30 p.m. High School Band Invitational Concert.
  • April 14 – clinics for singers during the day with a 7 p.m. High School/Middle School Chorus Invitational Concert.
  • April 15 – a music and fine-arts showcase throughout the day featuring a variety of visual arts, writing, poetry, theater, dance and music presentations such as the Songbird Sax Quartet from Osceola County, the Aeolian guitar ensemble from Polk County, Caponi’s Cannolis musical theatre from Lake County, and A Gift for Music orchestra from Orange County.
  • Some factors such as state testing soon after the festival, music competitions and other hurdles had to be weighed by those considering whether to attend the festival, but organizers expect K-12 student involvement in coming years will increase.

    “They may never again get to play in a place like this because of the cost and availability,” said Scott Tobias, UCF’s director of bands, “so we want to use our good fortune and share the hall.”

    All events to UCF Celebrates the Arts 2015 are free. No tickets are needed for the K-12 student performances, but tickets are required for many of the other programs. The April 10-15 festival will feature studio art, music, theatre, dance, gaming, animation, photography and film at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, 445 S. Magnolia Ave., Orlando. Visit for more information, tickets and updated scheduling.