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On Tuesday May 10th, at Temple University’s Performing Arts Center, Lang Lang wrangled a roomful of children and teenagers dressed in recital clothes through Schubert and Brahms for performance of 101 Pianist®.
The event was a successful collaboration between the foundation and the Philadelphia Orchestra, inviting amateur musicians to play en masse with professionals. In the past, a clutch of cellist played with Yo Yo Ma, and a herd of harpists played with the Orchestra’s Elizabeth Hainen.
The event allowed the young musicians to ply Lang Lang with questions about this musical education. The Chinese-born musician moved to Philadelphia at age 13 to study music at the Curtis Institute, while completing his academics at the private Rittenhouse Academy. He said he was dismayed to discover many of his peers at Rittenhouse had little or no classical music education.
At this event the Foundation also announced the new extension of our Keys Of Inspiration program to three schools in the Philadelphia School District, and provide a stipend for each to have a full-time music teacher for three years.
The three elementary schools receiving the grants are Fox Chase, Edward T. Steel, and Southwark. Their music education programs range from relatively robust to nonexistent.
“Rolling out in Fox Chase, where the climate has been stable for years, as well as Steel with a new principal and recent turmoil, will enable us to measure the consistencies and differences,” said the school district’s director of music education, Frank Machos. “That will help us scale the model across the district.”
The Edward T. Steel elementary school, in the Hunting Park neighborhood, is one of the district’s lowest-performing schools. After a hotly contested debate in 2014, the School Reform Commission decided against turning it into a charter school.
Foundation CEO Lukas Barwinski determined that the Philadelphia schools were most likely to continue music programs after the three-year grant ended.
“This is what we found, this energy and support from every principal, really fantastic,” said Mr. Barwinski. “This is exactly what Philadelphia needs.”