Ashford University Partners with Clinton Symphony Orchestra

Students and Families Receive Free Admission to CSO Concert

A partnership between Ashford University and the Clinton Symphony Orchestra (CSO) will allow area schoolchildren and their families to attend the CSO’s spring concert on Saturday, April 24, free of charge.

The symphony’s concert, “Chasing Light,” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. in the
Vernon Cook Theater at Clinton High School, 817 8th Ave. S. Headlining the concert will be the Iowa premier of the musical number “Chasing Light…” written by Joseph Schwantner, a native of Chicago.  

“Chasing Light...” was created when the League of American Orchestras and Meet The Composer commissioned Schwantner to compose a work for the Ford Made in America series of original works by American composers to be performed in each of the 50 states. Schwantner said, “My music is about where I live and what I'm doing.” The spark that brought on this particular composition was a walk through the woods near his New Hampshire home when a ‘flash of early morning light’ inspired Schwantner to write a poem and then later the musical work.

"Chasing Light...” premiered by the Reno Chamber Orchestra in September 2008.

As part of an educational program, the CSO has encouraged school music teachers to work with students on projects related to Schwantner’s work. Some of the suggested projects include study of unusual rhythm patterns found in the work, building musical instruments from household materials, or the writing of haiku as Schwantner did as a basis for this composition. Educational activities are geared to grade level, and all schools in the Symphony’s service area have been encouraged to participate.

“We thought it would be a great idea if these students – now familiar with the composer and his music – would be able to attend the concert to actually hear it being performed, so we contacted Ashford University, which has supported some of our other activities in the past,” said Robert Whipple, CSO Executive Director. 

The University agreed to provide a grant to pay for the concert admission for these students and their families and created invitations with concert details and “concert etiquette” information.

“We are honored to be a part of this partnership, said John Ballheim, Ashford University vice president and campus director. “We understand the importance of supporting community activities, especially ones with an educational component. This will be a wonderful opportunity for students and their families to experience this special music presented by the Clinton Symphony Orchestra.”

Ballheim said Ashford University’s partnership with the local symphony mirrors that of its San Diego, California parent company – Bridgepoint Education’s – recent announcement that it had been named presenting sponsor of the San Diego Symphony's Summer Pops series.  The popular summertime tradition will now be known as the Bridgepoint Education Summer Pops.

More information on the concert, as well as a downloadable participation form, can be found on the Clinton Symphony Orchestra’s website:

About Ashford University

Founded in 1918, Ashford University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools ( The University offers graduate and undergraduate degree programs online and at its Clinton, Iowa, campus. The University is known for its high quality yet highly affordable online and on-campus programs. For more information, please visit or call Shari Rodriguez, director of Public Relations, at 858.513.9240 x2513.