Drum Circle at Mary Louise Curtis Branch Brings in Neighbors

A community drum circle has taken root at the Mary Louise Curtis Branch over the past several years, drawing in curious adults from the surrounding Queen Village neighborhood. A recent article by reporter Valerie Russ, along with photos by Elizabeth Robertson, captures the fun, stress-relieving atmosphere found at Settlement's founding branch in South Philadelphia. Read the article here on Philly.com, and come check out Rhythm 'n Brews tomorrow evening and on the fourth Friday of every month!

Mellon Foundation Awards $2.532 Million to fund instrumental classical music education in Philadelphia

Goal: Remove barriers to music mastery for young instrumental musicians from underrepresented communities.

Philadelphia Music Alliance for Youth (PMAY) orchestra students rehearse onstage with Lio Kuokman, assistant conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra, in the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall during their 2015 Festival.

Philadelphia, PA (February 1, 2017) – The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has made an unprecedented grant to a cohort of ten music education organizations in Philadelphia, with the end goal of increasing diversity in the professional classical music field. This multi-year, $2.532 million grant will identify and support the region’s most committed young musicians to ensure they are college ready and that they have the skills necessary to excel in conservatory, college, or university as music majors. The investment, granted to organizations within the Philadelphia Music Alliance for Youth (PMAY), builds upon Philadelphia’s robust music education ecosystem, enhancing opportunities for collaboration to ensure that promising students can access the teaching and learning opportunities necessary to remove barriers to achieving the highest level of mastery.

Participating organizations from the Philadelphia Music Alliance for Youth (PMAY), a collaborative of music education organizations serving elementary through high school students across Greater Philadelphia, include: Musicopia, Philadelphia Sinfonia, Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, Play On, Philly!, Project 440, School District of Philadelphia Office of Music Education, Settlement Music School, Temple University Music Preparatory Division, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and The Primavera Fund. Each organization serves an essential role in the region’s music education community and enhances student talent in a unique way.

“Working together with the participants in the PMAY collaborative has been incredibly enriching for all of us,” says Settlement Music School CEO Helen S. Eaton. “Our collaborations over the past five years have shown that each of the member organizations, aligned to a common goal, are much more than the sum of our parts. With support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we can work to strengthen the supports that each organization already provides to students from underrepresented communities. Becoming a professional classical musician requires incredible dedication, sacrifice, devoted teachers and mentors, instruments, a myriad of learning opportunities, and much more that can be daunting without the necessary support. By working collectively to make sure our promising musicians can succeed, the PMAY collaborative can give them matchless opportunities for individual instrumental study, ensemble and chamber music study, summer study, audition assistance, and college preparation.” Settlement Music School will serve as the lead partner and act as the re-granting entity.

Maud Lyon, President of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, heralds the spirit of collaboration exhibited by the PMAY coalition. “This is a tremendous example of how our arts organizations make Philadelphia unique. Settlement and the PMAY coalition are breaking new ground in music education, creating an unprecedented collaboration that will have profound impact upon the careers of emerging musicians. This transformative grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is a strategic long-term investment that ensures that talented young musicians, regardless of their resources or background, will have access to the incredible array of arts education opportunities that these organizations provide.”
The Mellon-funded program, titled “PMAY Artists’ Initiative,” will commence with musician recruitment in spring 2017. Approximately 75 students from throughout the Philadelphia region will be identified in the first cohort of students by summer 2017. Students will benefit from individualized plans especially tailored to help nurture the students’ abilities and improve their strengths to set them up for success.
A national search for a program manager, who will have expertise in collaborations, the orchestral field, and in music education, is underway.

Philadelphia is the first city in the nation to receive funding at this level from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the future of young musicians.

Learn more and stay informed about the PMAY Artists' Initiative at: www.settlementmusic.org/pai.

Branching Out: New Art Exhibit at the Germantown Branch

The Lieberman Gallery of Allens Lane Art Center, located at the Germantown Branch at Settlement Music School, 6128 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, PA presents Branching Out, a group exhibition of artists who explore botanical structures in their work. Nancy Agati, Cynthia Back, Lyn Godley, Gina Michaels and Amie Potsic work with innovative printmaking techniques, collage, photography, mixed media and fiber optic drawing to contemplate the design and emotional possibilities inherent in plant structures and the botanical world.

Branching Out will be on view from January 8 – February 12, 2017 at the Lieberman Gallery of Allen’s Lane Art Center. The gallery will host an artist reception on Saturday, January 28 from 3:00 to 4:00 PM following a student recital, which will run from 2:00 to 3:00. All are welcome for both events.

Nancy Agati examines visual relationships and transformations found in nature. She is interested in elements from nature that communicate the passage of time and illustrate cyclical occurrences. She will exhibit drawings of natural matrix structures using ink, graphite, clay slip, handmade paint and polymer. www.nancyagati.com

Cynthia Back’s work is a meditation on fragility and change. Her focus ranges from microcosmic nature to cataclysmic world events. A master printmaker, Cynthia Back will show prints using grasses, tree trunks and seed pods as abstracted design elements. Techniques include woodcuts, reduction linocut, etching, aquatint, and chine collé. www.cynthiaback.com

Lyn Godley is an artist and lighting designer. Her work has crossed the borders of interiors, product, furniture, lighting and jewelry. She will exhibit drawings of cherry blossoms and fields of wheat that merge digital printing and pastel drawing with fiber optics. www.lyngodley.com

Gina Michaels is a sculptor and printmaker. Her works explores the structural and emotional relationship between humans and the botanical world. She will be showing botanical monotype prints created with plants from her Germantown garden. www.ginamichaels.com

Amie Potsic is a photographer and installation artist whose work addresses cultural, personal, and natural phenomena through the lens of social responsibility. Her Enchanted Forest series references the sensory experience of being within the forest while encouraging us to appreciate and preserve its future. www.amiepotsic.com

Allens Lane Art Center was founded in 1953 by an interracial group of Mt. Airy residents who were concerned about the dangers of increasing community tension. Most were parents of children attending local schools who felt that increasing access to the arts would be a way to bring people together as well as develop individual talents. "Living Together Through the Arts," a program of The Ford Foundation and the Henry Home & School Association, originally sponsored ALAC. It was formally incorporated as a nonprofit organization on June 29, 1953.

The Lieberman Gallery, part of the Lieberman Auditorium at the Germantown Branch of Settlement Music School was begun in 2013, a collaboration with Allens Lane Art Center to provide a satellite gallery space for emerging artists in Northwest Philadelphia. New exhibits are hung approximately every six weeks and artist receptions are held in conjunction with student recital programs so that artists and musicians have the opportunity to share their work with each other.

For more information, please contact Diane Connelly at diane@allenslane.org or 215-760-8650.

The artists of Branching Out. From left: Cynthia Beck, Nancy Agati, Lyn Godley (Top), Gina Michaels and Amie Potsic

Great news to wrap up 2016

Saaya Spearman (pictured at right), piano student of Lois DiDomenico and ballet student of Kaye Fernandez at the Mary Louise Curtis Branch, was accepted early decision to Yale University, where she plans to double-major in music and another subject. Saaya has been a student at Settlement since she was in the Kaleidoscope Preschool Arts Enrichment Program.

Hannah Silverberg, flute student of Ilya Ovrutsky at the Mary Louise Curtis Branch and a member the Weinstein Advanced Study Woodwind Ensemble coached by Geoffrey Deemer, won First Place in the All-City Orchestra concerto competition. Hannah will perform Mozart's Flute Concerto in D Major, 1st movement, with the All-City Orchestra at their annual concert on March 8, 2017 at Verizon Hall under the baton of Joseph Conyers. Hannah started to take flute lessons with Mr. Ovrutsky at age 5, and she is now in 12th year in his flute studio at Settlement.

Eleanor Murphy, clarinet student of Larry Shusterman at the Willow Grove Branch, was accepted to the PMEA District 11 Band.

Patrick White, saxophone student of Larry Shusterman at the Willow Grove Branch, was accepted to the Montgomery County Honors Band.

Sandra Carlock, piano faculty and Arthur Judson Distinguished Faculty Chair, received a Top Teacher Award from Steinway for "outstanding instruction and leadership in piano education."


Settlement CEO Helen Eaton Recognized among Musical America's Innovators of the Year

Settlement Music School CEO Helen Eaton was recognized as one of Musical America's Top 30 Innovators of 2016.

From Musical America:

"The Musical America Worldwide audience voted for the innovators and here they are: women composers who mentor teenage girls to follow in their footsteps; opera company GM’s who are pushing the envelope and bringing in new audiences; a cellist who plays in neo-natal units; a conductor who leads choirs of homeless men and women; a pianist bringing back the pedal piano by commissioning new works for it; a competition in which everybody wins; a publicist who creates a press kit with origami cranes to promote a show called Wings.

Their ideas and the courage to follow them through, no matter how off-the-wall, controversial, or otherwise out of the box, keep us moving forward, spur us on to stay creative and keep the field of performing arts vital and exciting."

Read Helen Eaton's profile online.

The Real Impact of the Arts, Shown through Science

An art project, a handwritten poster, a video or a photo—all of these demonstrate what pre-kindergarten students work on each day. The best evidence of what they learn, it turns out, is invisible, but it can be found through a sample of their saliva.

Taking a saliva sample under the tongue lasts only about a minute, but it forms the foundation for remarkable new research conducted by Dr. Eleanor Brown of West Chester University. Dr. Brown has studied students in Kaleidoscope, Settlement Music School’s nationally-renowned, arts-integrated pre-kindergarten program, since 2008, looking at the effects of arts-integrated education on children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.  The latest research, published in the journal Child Development, points to exposure to the arts helping to counteract the negative emotional and physical effects of poverty and offers, in Brown’s words, “indisputable evidence of the arts’ impact.”

The findings, titled “Can the Arts Get Under the Skin? Arts Classes and Cortisol Levels for Economically Disadvantaged Preschool Children,” reflects four years of collaboration between West Chester University’s Early Childhood Cognition and Emotions Lab and Settlement’s Early Childhood program. The research, funded in part through a National Endowment for the Art Artworks grant, involves testing cortisol, a hormone associated with elevated stress levels. Over the course of four years, saliva samples were taken from Kaleidoscope students at the beginning, middle and end of the school year and tested for cortisol levels.

Sampling was conducted following both arts classes and general academic instruction, and measurements taken before and after the students’ arts classes showed reduced levels of cortisol. “Because the impact of the Kaleidoscope arts classes is visible through testing rather than through observed behavior, we now have strong evidence of the ability of music and the related arts to get ‘under the skin’ of those who take part,” Dr. Brown says.

The recent research on cortisol builds on earlier research by Brown, as well as her colleagues and students, dating back to 2008. Her previous findings on school-readiness and emotion regulation have shown that Kaleidoscope better prepares its students better than peer pre-K programs without intensive arts-based programs, and that students show higher vocabulary scores, the increased ability of students to manage emotions, and greater levels of positive emotional qualities like interest, happiness and pride.

“The tremendous impact that the Kaleidoscope program and its innovative curriculum has on these young children’s lives is clear to all of us at Settlement,” says Helen Eaton, Chief Executive Officer of Settlement Music School. “We are so grateful for the opportunity, through Dr. Brown’s research, to share what happens every day at Settlement with a wider audience so that children and educators alike might benefit.”

Learn more about the Kaleidoscope program here, and find more of Dr. Brown's research, including the most recent study in Child Development, here.

Dr. Eleanor Brown, of West Chester University

Famed International Guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel Returns to Philadelphia for a Concert to Benefit Settlement Music School

"Igniting Philly's Jazz Future" to be held Friday, December 23 at 7:30 PM at Settlement's Germantown Branch (6128 Germantown Avenue).

Click the image for more information and the online ticket order form

Click the image for more information and the online ticket order form

Kurt Rosenwinkel, one of the top guitarists in the world of jazz, will make a rare concert appearance in his hometown of Philadelphia at Settlement Music School. The concert will be held at Settlement’s Germantown Branch, located at 6128 Germantown Avenue. This concert will be the first major event at the Germantown Branch since a major exterior renovation in 2015.

General admission tickets are available for $30 and can be purchased through Settlement’s website. All ticket sales benefit Settlement Music School, and the School invites patrons to donate one or more tickets with their purchase so that Settlement students who receive financial aid can attend the concert free of charge.

Mr. Rosenwinkel is a Philadelphia native who took guitar lessons and played in the Rohm & Haas Jazz Ensemble at Settlement during his youth. He later attended the Creative and Performing Arts High School and the Berklee College of Music. For many years, he has been based in Berlin and has performed and recorded with such noted artists as Brad Mehldau, Brian Blade, Mark Turner, Joshua Redman, Chris Potter and fellow Settlement Music School alumnus Justin Faulkner and with esteemed jazz elders like Joe Henderson, Paul Motian and Gary Burton.

“We are thrilled to welcome Kurt back to Philadelphia and to present his music to the next generation of jazz artists who are currently studying at Settlement,” said Helen Eaton, Settlement’s Chief Executive Officer. “It means so much to me to see our former students succeed in their chosen fields, both in music and in other fields, and to have them share their knowledge and experience with our current students and their families.”

Rosenwinkel will be joined by Mike Boone on acoustic bass and Lawrence Leathers on drums. The Helen K. Schwartz Advanced Study Jazz Ensemble, coached by Settlement faculty member and noted jazz artist Tony Miceli, will serve as opening act.

For online ticket purchases, visit www.settlementmusic.org/rosenwinkel. For any questions or to order tickets over the phone, contact Patrick LaVecchia-Burke at 215.320.2684

Settlement alumna returns home to Philadelphia area

Serafin String Quartet (SSQ), the quartet in residence at the University of Delaware, welcomes acclaimed violist Sheila Browne. Browne was principal viola of the Settlement Music School Chamber Orchestra - the precursor to the current Trowbridge Chamber Orchestra - from 1985- 1989. Sheila Browne has also joined the University of Delaware's Department of Music faculty at professor of viola. She joins both the University and the Quartet from her position at University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where she had been on the faculty for ten years.

Hailed by The New York Times as a "stylish player,” Browne is an accomplished soloist, chamber musician, professor and orchestral principal. She received a Naumburg scholarship and a Bachelor of Music degree at the Juilliard School, where she was famed pedagogue Karen Tuttle's teaching assistant for four years. Click here for Browne’s full biography.

How did Settlement students and Alumni spend their summers?

Current students

Charly Avril, flute student of Tom Meany at the Willow Grove Branch, attended the Mansfield University Flute Camp Intensive this past June.

Mary Cirelli, flute student of Tom Meany at the Willow Grove Branch, received one of the four Dr. James A. Madden Memorial Scholarships. This $750 tuition award is in memory of the late Dr. Madden who was a long time teacher for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Sadie Ellis, flute student of Tom Meany at the Germantown Branch, has been accepted through competitive audition to be a member of the Philadelphia Sinfonia Players.

Semaj Murphy, in addition to joining the roster of The Primavera Fund, violin student of Abby Nixon at the Germantown Branch, gave a performance at a choir camp at St. Martin’s in the Field Episcopal Church in Chestnut Hill along with Cyrus Fisher, piano student of Lois DiDomenico, and Seirah Davis, voice student of Judith Turano.

Audrey Trullinger, voice student of Judith Turano at the Willow Grove Branch, was one of 40 students selected nationwide to work with Michael Feinstein at the Songbook Academy at Butler University in Indiana. 

Kara Yoo, flute student of Tom Meany at the Willow Grove Branch, and Sophia Yoo, violin student of Lee Snyder at the Willow Grove Branch, both received 2nd Place in the Senior Ensemble Category at the Tri-County Concerts Association Annual Youth Festival.


Nicholas Brown, former guitar student of William Peters and son of trombone and tuba faculty member Brian Brown, is serving as a Philadelphia fire fighter. Nick was class leader of Class #192 and gave the commencement address.  Nick is stationed at Engine 16 in West Philadelphia.

Daveed Buzaglo sang his graduation recital at Oberlin Conservatory in the spring and performed at Tanglewood this summer.

Kristal Daniels is currently singing the role of Violetta in a full scale production of Verdi’s La Traviata in Ravenna, Italy with La Música Lírica, conducted by Joseph Rescigno.  La Música Lírica is an internationally renowned training program for professional opera singers.

Matthew Fleisher is singing the lead roles of Sarastro in Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Theseus in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Brevard Music Festival in North Carolina.

A musical journey at Germantown

The Chestnut Hill Local recently featured Matthew Flynn, currently a piano student of Scott Coulter and a musicianship student of Michael Stambaugh at the Germantown Branch. Over the course of Matthew's studies at Settlement, he has participated in Children's Music Workshop, studied both classical and jazz piano, played in a student rock band, delved into music theory and harmony through Musicianship classes, and begun to write his own original composition.

Matthew's creativity, curiosity and passion for music have been a constant throughout his time at Settlement. His path as a student -- starting out with Children's Music Workshop, then moving into individual lessons, followed by enrolling in ensembles and classes -- is one that any student of any age can take.

Read more about Matthew here: http://www.chestnuthilllocal.com/2016/08/25/student-from-gfs-15-already-making-mark-as-composer/.

The Primavera Fund supports Settlement students

Semaj Murphy, violin student of Abby Nixon at the Germantown Branch, joined the roster of The Primavera Fund this summer. The Primavera Fund, established in 2014, is a nonprofit foundation supporting the development of young musicians aiming for professional careers in music.

He joins another current Settlement student on the roster: violinist Lily Alexandra Mell, who is member of the Trowbridge Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Jeri Lynne Johnson.

The Primavera Fund's mission is to identify, mentor, and underwrite the artistic endeavors of young musicians whose talent surpasses their financial means, and it offers its students a comprehensive program, including instruments on loan from The Norman Holland Hull Instrument Library, private instruction on a weekly basis, scholarships for youth orchestra, chamber music, and intensive summer programs, and more.

Semaj Murphy performing at the Germantown Branch.

Semaj Murphy performing at the Germantown Branch.

Grant Supports Settlement's Work in Camden

We are proud to announce that the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, a nonprofit foundation that supports arts, education, environment and informed-communities initiatives in New Jersey, has renewed its support of our students in Camden County with a $10,000 grant that supports financial aid funding and programming at Settlement's Camden Branch, co-located with Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy. We are honored to be part of the nonprofit community making it better, together.

Welcoming New Members to Board of Trustees

At the 2016 Charles and Florence Goldman Annual Meeting this summer, Settlement Music School elected the following new members to its Central Board of Trustees and Board of Directors.

New Trustees

  • Brian Pinheiro, Partner at Ballard Spahr, Chair of the firm's Business and Finance Department and the Practice Leader of the firm's Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group
  • Joel Smith, President & CEO of J. F. Smith & Associates
  • Karen Gurmankin, outgoing program director of Heart to Heart Case Management at KleinLife and previously Field Representative for U.S. Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz
  • Baird Standish, owner of Facility Specialists, LLC

New Directors

For the Mary Louise Curtis Branch:

  • Caitlin Devlin Ferry, Relationship Manager with Brown Brothers Harriman
  • Tamika Boateng, Senior Manager, Institutional Investor Group with Vanguard
  • Leah Mellman, concert pianist.

For the Germantown Branch:

  • Susan Freeman, Chief Medical Officer for the Temple University Health System, President and CEO of the Temple Center for Population Health, and Vice Dean for Health Care Systems for the Temple University School of Medicine.

For the Kardon-Northeast Branch:

  • Pam Henshall, president of the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce
  • Mary Beth Kramer, president at Kramer Consulting, which provides marketing and public relations services for the concrete industry
  • Daniel Singleton, RN BSN, Manager of Clinical Informatics and Implementation Services at Aria Health
  • Chris Argerakis, music teacher for the School District of Philadelphia.

For the Willow Grove Branch:

  • Jack Rosenbloom, attorney and managing member of Rosenbloom Law Group in Horsham
  • Lorelei Krall Toombs, senior pastor of Willow Grove United Methodist Church.

For the Wynnefield Branch:

  • Jeffrey Levinsohn, Private Wealth Advisor, Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management
  • Andrea Lockenour, member of the Patent Council at GlaxoSmithKline
  • Teri Simon, a lawyer in private practice in Wynnewood
  • David Deets, director of sustainability for Brown's Shoprite Inc.

For the Camden Branch:

  • Roy Dawson, former Interim Superintendent for the Willingboro School District and former Superintendent of the Camden City Schools
  • Denise Dunham, retired educator and school principal, most recently principal of Woodbury Junior and Senior High School
  • Sonjeya Fitzgerald, Associate Vice President for Impact with the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.

Music Instruction for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Settlement is proud to partner with the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania in its Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL) Academy. This is a two week day camp focusing on Braille learning through hands-on and engaging activities for blind and visually impaired children ages 4-12. The dates are July 11-22. Settlement faculty will provide daily music instruction modeled on Children's Music Workshop as part of the camp’s enrichment program; this instruction is made possible by the Albert B. Millett Fund, administered by BNY Mellon Wealth Management.

If you know a child age 4-12 who might benefit from this camp, you can sign him or her up or receive more information about the camp via email.

Settlement Alumna Part of Prize-Winning Ensemble

The Blood family; Freddie is at the far right.

The Blood family; Freddie is at the far right.

Freddie Blood, Settlement alumna and former chamber music student of Shirley Curtiss, won a Silver Medal as part of the woodwind quintet QuinTexas in the Senior Wind Division of the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. The ensemble also includes Charlotte Daniel (flute), Nicholas Councilor (clarinet), Laura McIntyre (bassoon), and Rose Valley (horn). 

Freddie appeared as a guest soloist with the Trowbridge Chamber Orchestra in 2012, and she was featured, along with the rest of the Blood family, in the Fall 2012 issue of the Notes newsletter. Congratulations, Freddie! 

Student Ensemble Performs in National Competition

Settlement Music School is thrilled to announce that one of our Advanced Study Ensembles will perform at this weekend's Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition in South Bend, Indiana.

The Gray Charitable Trust Piano Trio, coached by Settlement piano and chamber music faculty member and Arthur Judson Distinguished Faculty Chair Sandra Carlock, was accepted to the competition earlier this spring. 

The Trio, comprised of violinist Brenden Zak (age 18), cellist Cindy Yeo (age 17), and pianist Kelly Zhang (age 18), has performed together as an ensemble since 2013. The ensemble's selection reflects a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication over the past three years, with preparation for this competition having begun at the start of the 2015-16 season.

The Trio will perform in the Junior Division of the competition at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center at the University of Notre Dame this Friday, May 6. If the group advances to the semifinal round on Saturday or to the finals on Sunday, their performances will be streamed live on Fischoff's website.

Numerous Settlement ensembles have been invited to take part in the Fischoff competition since its inception in 1973. Most recently, the Gail W. Snitzer String Quartet, coached by Sidney Curtiss, competed in 2014 and received an Honorable Mention. 

Stay tuned for more news of the group's participation, and please join us in wishing safe travels and a marvelous performance to the musicians, their coach, and their families.

Germantown Branch, families, and alumnus featured in Germantown Beat


By Eddie Dunn


The Moody family. From left to right: Ashley, Anne, Chase, Taylor, Mark, Nina, Kenneth. (Photo by Eddie Dunn)

It’s a Wednesday evening in Philadelphia, which means one thing: Settlement night for the Moody family.

“This is our day,” said Anne Moody, a registered nurse and the Moody matriarch.

Read More

New York Times Article Discusses Music Circuits in the Brain

The new paper “takes a very innovative approach and is of great importance,” said Josef Rauschecker, director of the Laboratory of Integrative Neuroscience and Cognition at Georgetown University. “The idea that the brain gives specialized treatment to music recognition, that it regards music as fundamental a category as speech, is very exciting to me.”

-New Ways Into the Brain's 'Music Room' by Natalie Angier

Read the article online: