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.