Give Back MKE 2022: Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

These local organizations are doing great work in our city – and they need your support.


Each spring, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra musicians embark on a unique and touching project: working one-on-one with domestic violence survivors to write a customized lullaby as a form of healing.

“We’ve created 38 unique lullabies with this program,” Hannah Esch, MSO’s senior education and engagement manager, says about the MSO Lullaby Project. “That’s 38 people we’ve served.”

The program was first started by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, and the MSO brought it to Milwaukee six years ago.

Photo courtesy of MSO

The MSO partners with Sojourner Family Peace Center, a local organization that provides domestic violence prevention and intervention services, to run the project. The goal is to strengthen the bond between a parent and a child through the lullaby.

While serving mothers and grandmothers affected by domestic violence, the Lullaby Project has also broadened its reach to fathers and grandfathers.

“We’re so proud [that] we’ve had two incredible dads step forward,” says Esch.

The lullaby process begins each February with the participants writing down memories about their children that are used to develop lyrics. They work with their MSO coach to put music to the words.

“It ended up being a really healing part of my journey,” says one mother who participated in the program. “Whenever I thought about my kids, I thought about the hard times. It was a turning point for me to remember the good times.”

That mother had no professional music experience, but she practiced with a voice coach and performed her lullaby at the Celebration Concert, which is hosted each June at the end of the project.

“It was really special to have symphony performers play live with me, to hear the instrumentals behind me,” she says. “It was the most special thing I’ve had in my life.”

Photo courtesy of MSO

What We Do:

• The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra is among the finest orchestras in the nation. Since its inception in 1959, the MSO has found innovative ways to give music a home in the region, develop music appreciation and talent among area youth, and raise the national reputation of Milwaukee.

• The MSO’s Lullaby Project supports domestic violence survivors by partnering them with MSO musicians to create personalized lullabies for their children.

Where Your Money Goes:

• Donations support many programs at the MSO, from education initiatives and community programs like the Lullaby Project to the Annual Fund to support orchestra operations.

Photo courtesy of MSO

212 W. WISCONSIN AVE. | TO GIVE: 414-226-7852 | FOR TICKETS: 414-291-7605


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine’s December issue.

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