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A Brief History

First Came Music Education

ARIAS has a threefold mission:
to increase exposure of the Jacksonville Symphony in Nassau County;
to encourage attendance at Jacksonville Symphony Concerts in Jacoby Hall;
to enhance music education in Nassau County Schools.

It all started in 1999 with the music education pillar of that mission. That’s when a group of concerned Amelia Island residents recognized a need for enhanced music education in the Nassau County Schools. With the help of dedicated volunteers, they solicited musical instrument donations from the community and launched the Instrument Zoo.

For more than 20 years, volunteers took these instruments into every 4th grade, each year providing about 850 students the opportunity to play instruments from all four musical groups. This continued into January 2020, with 44 classroom events. However, with the onset of the pandemic, the program in this form was no longer viable. In the spring of 2023, a revised demonstration format of Instrument Zoo was launched for 4th and 5th graders.

ARIA instrument zoo

Then Came ARIAS

In 2003 the organization became Amelia Residents In Action for the Symphony, or ARIAS, an affiliate of the Jacksonville Symphony. By organizing as a 501(c)3 volunteers are able to solicit funds in support of the Instrument Zoo and much more.

Over the years, ARIAS has sponsored Jacksonville Symphony concerts on Amelia Island, initially as large Gala Dinners at the Ritz and Plantation with the full orchestra. This evolved into the very popular, “Let Freedom Ring” program.

More than a dozen years ago, and in partnership with the Symphony, shuttle buses to select evening concerts began leaving from the Harris Teeter parking lot. These bus trips were discounted for ARIAS members and enabled concert goers to take advantage of comfortable transportation – especially important for those who avoid driving after dark.

Today ARIAS sponsors Jacksonville Symphony Ensemble performances twice a year on Amelia Island and is committed to enhancing the lives of Nassau County students with the Instrument Zoo and ensemble performances in the schools.