Mellon Foundation Awards $2.5 Million to Prepare Young Musicians from Underrepresented Populations for Careers in Classical Music Boston, MA
Source: Boston Symphony Orchestra
— The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded $2.5 million to New England Conservatory of Music (NEC), in consortium with the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras, the Community Music Center of Boston, Project STEP, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, to launch the Boston Bridge to Equity and Achievement in Music (BEAM) initiative. The BEAM Initiative supports a collaborative effort to provide sustained pathways of educational opportunity and advanced preparation to Boston-area middle and high school instrumental musicians from historically underrepresented communities. Its goal is to increase diversity in conservatory and university instrumental music programs, in order to address longstanding inequities in the field of classical music.
"The BEAM partners have come together to support students of diverse backgrounds in achieving the highest levels of musicianship. With a strong commitment to diversity, equity, excellence and inclusion, each partner brings unique capabilities and experience to the collaboration. It’s been inspiring to work with all the Boston partners and with the Mellon Foundation for more than a year to develop the BEAM program, and I look forward to the continued work ahead with the students who will change the landscape of young classical musicians in Boston and beyond."
― Rebecca Bogers, Dean and Director of the NEC Preparatory School
Through the BEAM initiative, 60-75 students each year will receive private instrumental lessons, orchestral experience, chamber music coaching, music theory classes, support for summer program participation, and long-term, individual advising and mentorship. The program will be student-focused, robust, year-round, and adaptable, created and guided in equitable partnership with community representatives and with the families it serves. The Mellon Foundation’s grant will support the project’s first 45 months, including a 9-month planning period and three full years of programming. The first cohort of students will begin the new program in the fall of 2019, after a process of community engagement, recruitment and auditions to be held in the spring.
About New England Conservatory of Music
New England Conservatory (NEC) is recognized internationally as a leader among music schools, educating and training musicians of all ages from around the world for over 150 years. With 800 music students representing more than 40 countries in the College, and 2,000 youth and adults who study in the Preparatory and Continuing Education divisions, NEC cultivates a diverse, dynamic community for students, providing them with performance opportunities and high-caliber training with internationally- esteemed artist-teachers and scholars. NEC’s alumni, faculty and students touch nearly every aspect of musical life in the region; NEC is a major engine of the vital activity that makes Boston a musical and cultural capital. With the recent appointment of Andrea Kalyn to serve as NEC’s 17th President, the Conservatory is poised to embark on a new chapter at the forefront of innovation in education and music.
NEC’s Preparatory School offers “a place for every player,” providing top quality training in a supportive and nurturing environment with opportunities for young musicians of all skill levels—from absolute beginner to near-professional. One of the largest programs of its kind in the nation, the Preparatory School serves K-12 music students from across New England. NEC Prep’s world-class faculty of 250, wide variety of options for private and ensemble study, and outstanding performance and touring opportunities all provide students with an exceptional musical and educational experience. The core components of the NEC Prep curriculum include private instrumental lessons, classes in music theory, history and composition, choral singing, and ensembles of all sizes and configurations including eight orchestras. Recognizing the need for an accessible and affordable entry point for younger students, NEC Prep’s new Musical Explorers program offers curious Boston third-graders with eurhythmics-based general music instruction and the opportunity to begin to learn an instrument.
About the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras
Founded in 1958 and celebrating its 61st season, the mission of the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras (BYSO) is to encourage musical excellence in a professional and supportive environment by providing the highest quality orchestral training and performance opportunities to musicians grades K-12 and making its programs accessible to underserved communities through financial assistance and outreach. With nearly 600 musicians ages 4-18 participating each year, BYSO has served thousands of young musicians as one of the largest and most comprehensive youth orchestra programs in the United States. BYSO’s programmatic scope includes a wide array of orchestral and chamber music options, and the Intensive Community Program (ICP), a rigorous instrument training program that provides immersive instruction to students from populations traditionally underrepresented in the classical music field. Now in its 20th year, ICP recruits students from the Boston community between the ages of 4-10, with little or no prior musical experience. Following the interview process, a select number of students are invited to participate in a Music Workshop Series, then those students who show exceptional interest are accepted to join the new class of ICP students. Students receive an instrument, weekly lessons, music theory and ensemble classes, performance opportunities, and the support necessary to successfully audition within two to three years into one of the BYSO ensembles with a goal of joining the Boston Youth Symphony, BYSO’s premier ensemble. To date, 100% of ICP students have graduated from high school, and 100% have gone on to college. Today, BYSO is one of the most diverse youth orchestras in the country, with 18% of its student body composed of students in ICP.