Forbes Center Welcomes HCPS and RCPS Fifth Graders for Live Arts Performance

College of Visual and Performing Arts Stories
Catapult Lead

April 14, 2022 - More than 450 fifth grade students in Harrisonburg City Public Schools (HCPS) and Rockingham County Public Schools (RCPS) will get to see master storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston and jazz violinist Diane Monroe in Fiddlin’ with Stories thanks to the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts’ partnership with Any Given Child Shenandoah Valley. The Forbes Center is the premier performance partner of Any Given Child Shenandoah Valley, a 501(c)(3) organization focused on ensuring equitable access in the arts for all children in grades K-8 in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Students will have the opportunity to attend a matinee on April 19. The 80-minute performance will be followed by a question-and-answer session with Alston and Monroe. Alston wrote the program with her late brother, jazz violinist John Blake, Jr. The show focuses on how ancient and modern stringed instruments have played an integral role in the African and African American communities through folktales, stories and songs.

The Forbes Center is actively involved in educational outreach and has committed to offering varying groups and age ranges within K-8 the chance to experience at least two live performances and one dance workshop per season, according to Regan Byrne, executive director of the Forbes Center and a member of the Board of Directors for Any Given Child Shenandoah Valley. When Byrne booked an evening performance of Fiddlin’ with Stories for the 2021–2022 Forbes Center Masterpiece Season, she also booked the school matinee. Byrne says she makes “a conscious decision to book ‘Forbes Family Fun’ shows that align with the HCPS and RCPS educational goals.”

Now in their ninth season, Forbes Family Fun shows were introduced by the Center to provide quality performing arts programming for young audiences and their families. This year’s Forbes Family Fun series is sponsored by Shenandoah Valley Airport and has included a free school matinee to Catapult, the world’s premier shadow dance company, for 450 HCPS sixth and seventh graders. Charlotte Blake Alston and Diane Monroe in Fiddlin’ with Stories is also tapped as a Forbes Family Fun show—which includes a ticketed performance on Tuesday, April 19 at 6:30 pm.

Byrne worked with the guest artists as well as J.R. Snow, director of Any Given Child Shenandoah Valley, to determine the appropriate age range for the Fiddlin’ with Stories school matinee. “We are excited to welcome fifth graders to this performance. It is the first time some of these students have had the opportunity to experience live arts in a professional theatre setting.”

This year’s partnership with Any Given Child Shenandoah Valley has also included two dance workshops at the Forbes Center. These interactive dance experiences introduced over 900 RCPS third graders to various forms of movement and dance terminology.

In addition, the School of Music hosted over 1000 fourth graders in HCPS and RCPS in February in the 1100-seat Wilson Hall as part of its Orchestra Discovery Concert series. The Conductor’s Spellbook program featured the JMU Symphony Orchestra with narration by Foster Beyers, JMU director of orchestras.

Forbes Center student matinees and Orchestra Discovery Concerts have reached over 7,500 students since 2019.

Tickets to Charlotte Blake Alston and Diane Monroe in Fiddlin’ with Stories are $34–35 with a $15 child’s ticket. For tickets, visit or call the Forbes Center Box Office at (540) 568-7000. For more information on Any Given Child Shenandoah Valley, visit

The 2021–2022 Masterpiece Season is sponsored by Kathy Moran Wealth Group.

This engagement of Fiddlin’ with Stories is funded through the Mid Atlantic Tours program of Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Photo of Catapult by Bob Adamek.

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Published: Thursday, April 14, 2022

Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2023

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