Category Archives: Music

Mass. Youth Represent at 1st National Take a Stand Festival

Boston String Academy youth concert. Photo courtesy Marielisa and Mariesther Alvarez.Last week,  in New York’s Hudson valley, Bard College hosted the first National Take a Stand Festival, bringing together student-musicians participating in El Sistema-inspired programs from across the country for a 5-day music camp.

The National Take a Stand Festival is provided to students free of charge through a partnership between the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Venezuela’s FundaMusical, Longy School of Music, Aspen Music Festival and School, and Bard College.  For some students, the Festival was their first experience traveling out of state, and gave them the opportunity to collaborate with peers from different parts of the country as they work with exceptional master teachers and musicians on challenging musical repertoire.

Approximately 80 participants, ages 11-17, were selected for the Eastern Festival. (The western states’ Festival was held in Aspen in June.) Twenty-five participants were from Massachusetts, making it the largest delegation from any single state. Most of the Massachusetts students (including 13 from Boston String Academy, whose program is pictured above) also participate in programs supported by MCC’s SerHacer Program.

In addition to its large student contingent, Boston String Academy’s excellence was recognized with the selection of Co-Director Mariesther Alvarez to join the Festival’s roster of 10 Master Teachers who ground both the Western and Eastern Festivals. Co-Director Marielisa Alvarez was also invited to teach at the Eastern Festival.

The El Sistema model originated in Venezuela with the goal of promoting social change and citizenship through music, primarily by providing orchestral music experiences universally.  In its 40 years, El Sistema has inspired thousands of music educators around the world.

Johnson String Project

The Johnson String Project is dedicated to ensuring that all students in El Sistema-inspired programs in Massachusetts have access to high quality string instruments.  But this is more than a simple ‘donate an instrument’ program.  Instead, students are guaranteed a quality instrument that they can exchange as they grow and can have them maintained and repaired at no cost.

Hear more about the origins of the Johnson String Project from Carol Johnson on Mass Cultural Council’s podcast, Creative Minds Out Loud.

4 Mass Groups Named National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award Finalists

 

Boston City Singers performing in North Cambridge

Four MCC-funded programs have been chosen among the 50 finalists for the 2016 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. Congratulations to BalletRox, Boston City Singers, Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción, and The Theater Offensive, Inc. for achieving their Finalist Certificate of Excellence – a testament to the outstanding Creative Youth Development work happening in the Commonwealth, and testimony to all of those committed to working with youth to achieve social change through the arts, humanities, and sciences.

The National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, given by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, is the nation’s highest honor for out-of-school arts and humanities programs that celebrate the creativity of America’s young people, particularly those from underserved communities. This award recognizes and supports excellence in programs that open new pathways to learning, self-discovery, and achievement. Each year, the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards recognize 12 outstanding programs in the United States, from a wide range of urban and rural settings.

See the full release.

Introducing Creative Minds Out Loud, MCC’s New Podcast

Creative Minds Out Loud logoJoin us for informative and lively conversations with arts and cultural leaders through Creative Minds Out Loud. Our new podcast was created to give a glimpse into Massachusetts’ cultural capital; to inform, to inspire, and to share the stories of our sector. Listen and subscribe now.

Recent episodes feature Artists For Humanity‘s Susan Rodgerson and Boston Children’s Chorus‘ Dr. Anthony Trecek-King.

Mass Creates 1st State Program to Support El Sistema Music Education

Last week, a crowd of nearly three hundred joined us at Artist for Humanity’s EpiCenter as we announced the launch of SerHacer, MCC’s newest grant program supporting creative youth development. SerHacer (To Make, To Be) will provide pilot grants, instruments, and technical support to the following youth music programs across Massachusetts:

  •  Berkshire Children and Families, a social service agency based in Pittsfield. Its Kids 4 Harmony program meets after school each day at Morningside Community School.
  • El Sistema at Conservatory Lab, a Dorchester charter school that provides extended day learning that includes 15 hours of music each week.
  • Bridge Boston Charter School, founded just three years ago and growing one grade per year at which every student makes music every day.
  • Worcester Chamber Music Society, operates an afterschool program known as Neighborhood Strings in Worcester.
  • Josiah Quincy School Orchestra Program, a Boston Public School, which offers an hour and a half of music, before and during the school day.
  • MusiConnects in Mattapan, home of the Boston Public Quartet, which works afterschool with students who would not otherwise have access to music education.
  • El Sistema Somerville, an afterschool program at the East Somerville Community School that is also supported by city government.
  • Also three organizations will receive planning grants to explore new programming: Cape Conservatory in Hyannis; Boston Conservatory, which is working to develop a choral program for young people on the autistic spectrum; and Berkshire Children and Families, which will expand its work to North Adams next year.

State Senate Majority Leader Stan Rosenberg congratulated our grantees, and called SerHacer “another innovation for Massachusetts that will help our young people lead more active civic lives and discover their own potential.” Picking up on this thread, Robert Lynch, CEO at Americans for the Arts underscored the value of the arts, saying that, “kids today need the arts. They need the arts for better living, better academics and test scores, and for better coping with all of life’s challenges.”

To better understand the connections between musical studies and essential learning skills, SerHacer will also fund new research led by Ellen Winner and Sara Cordes at Boston College. Building upon a base of similar studies that have enhanced our understanding of the role of arts in youth development, this study will examine the strengthening of skills such as focus, planning, and problem-solving—skills that are crucial to success in and out of school.

See the Full Press Release.

Project STEP: 2014 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award Winner

First Lady Michelle Obama with Project STEP student Ajani BoydEarlier this month, First Lady Michelle Obama presented Project STEP (String Training and Education Program) student Ajani Boyd and Executive Director Mary Jaffee the 2014 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program (NAHYP ) Award on behalf of the entire Project STEP community.

Project STEP received the award for its rigorous, comprehensive, year-round classical string training program for underrepresented minorities. The NAHYP Award recognizes the country’s 12 best creative youth development programs for using engagement in the arts and the humanities to increase academic achievement, graduation rates, and college enrollment. The awardees—chosen from a national pool of more than 350 nominations and 50 finalists—are also recognized for improving literacy and language abilities, communication and performance skills, and cultural awareness.

First presented in 1998, the NAHYP Award is the signature program of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH). The awards are presented annually in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

From the NAHYP web site:

Project STEP seeks to increase diversity in professional classical music by tooling students, primarily from underrepresented groups, to compete and excel in that realm. So, nearly every Saturday during the school year, Project STEP brings several dozen students, mostly Black and Latino, to Boston’s august Symphony Hall. Toting violins, violas, cellos, and double basses, these students have arrived for lessons with some of the best classical musicians in the Boston area. Throughout this extraordinary 12-year-long program, these young musicians will receive what has been called a “world-class arts learning opportunity,” one designed to change the course of these young people’s lives, while changing the classical music industry.

Youth Showcase at IBA on January 16

Charge up for the new year. On January 16, 2014 Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion hosts La Lengua del Poder (The Language of Power), a showcase of young people freeing their voices through visual art, theater, music, movement, and poetry. Free. 6-9pm. Villa Victoria Center for the Arts, 85 West Newton St., Boston. Part of the YouthReach 20th anniversary celebration.

La Lenqua Del Poder event flyer