For months, every third-grader from the Central Unified School District and fourth-grader from the Fresno Unified School District practiced for an impressive musical debut.
The instrument of choice: plastic recorders. The venue: the Saroyan Theatre.
And the prestigious ensemble with which the students got to play: the Fresno Philharmonic, under the direction of music director Theodore Kuchar.
More than 7,000 students participated on Thursday and Friday in the two-day event, "Link Up: The Orchestra Sings." The orchestra has long offered special performances for schoolchildren, but this was the first time students got to play with the Fresno Philharmonic rather than just listen.
The children prepared four songs, including Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" and Dvorak's "New World" Symphony. The orchestra presented the program in partnership with Carnegie Hall's Weil Music Institute.
Bee photographer Eric Paul Zamora captured the event Thursday on video and in photos.