The RNO-University of Alabama music therapy collaboration began in 2010 when Maxim Rubtsov and Vladislav Lavrik attended a seminar in the theory and techniques of music therapy at UA School of Music. As a practical application of what they had learned, they performed a concert at RISE School for children with Down syndrome, a campus laboratory school that demonstrates best practices in teaching children with disabilities.
The concert, organized by RISE music therapist Dawn Sandel, was attended by several hundred children (pre-school to age 5), teachers and parents.
Following the success of the RNO's GRAMMY Award for Peter and the Wolf and Wolf Tracks, the RNO Wind Quintet adapted the score and narration for performances in festivals, museums, zoos, wolf sanctuaries [Wolf Haven] and children's hospitals. Perhaps the highlight of these performances was the 2009 concert at New York Presbyterian Hospital when a live wolf "ambassador" appeared. Narrators have included ambassadors, governors, actresses, radio and television personalities and child-narrators who add their talents.
Most recently, the quintet brought the piece to Northmore Elementary School in West Palm Beach hosted by the Center for Creative Education during the RNO’s 25th Anniversary US tour in 2016.
Based on the 2007 children’s book by Mary Ann Allin, the Suite from Hermitage Cats Save the Day, the children's musical version was launched in 2013. The Russian-American music therapy team formed at the University of Alabama in 2010 has prepared children with disabilities for participation in concert events. Each performance of Hermitage Cats has included children with disabilities and their parents and teachers.
In March 2016 Suite from Hermitage Cats Save the Day was performed in New York at the Russian Consulate as part of the RNO 25th Anniversary celebration and to highlight the RNO's Magic of Music projects. Composer and jazz musician Chris Brubeck performed with RNO and University of Alabama musicians for children from New York City schools.