In November 2011, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra announced the launch of CityMusic, its brand new after-school music program at the Latino Studies Academy at Burns, a public K-8 school in the Frog Hollow neighborhood of Hartford. Created in collaboration with Hartford Public Schools, the Connecticut Center for Nonviolence, COMPASS Youth Collaborative, and Hartford Performs, CityMusic engages students through the transformative power of music, helping them to build a new school culture based on achievement and teamwork and teaching them to become ambassadors of social change in their community.
CityMusic’s core mission is inspired by “El Sistema,” a Venezuelan community music and youth orchestra program that began in the late 1970’s and now teaches music to 300,000 of Venezuela’s poorest children, demonstrating the power of music to dramatically change the life trajectory of hundreds of thousands of a nation’s youth while transforming the communities around them. The Hartford Symphony Orchestra is taking the lead in bringing El Sistema’s principles to Hartford and joins several other cities on the East Coast that are in the process of creating or have already implemented similar El Sistema-inspired programs, including the “Take a Stand” program in Boston and “OrchKids” in Baltimore.
In this first year, CityMusic is primarily an after-school music program held four days a week at Burns Academy. The after-school program currently serves 50 students and is taught by the HSO’s newly hired teaching artists, who bring expertise in urban and non-traditional music education to CityMusic. Students participate in choir, bucket drum band, “paper” orchestra, and string orchestra, performing Latino, American, and European music- all while acquiring skills in listening, reading, memory, playing/singing, composition, and expression. It is CityMusic’s ambition to expand the program over the course of 5-10 years to the older students at Burns Academy and eventually throughout the Hartford Public School District, becoming an integral part of Hartford school culture.
To enhance the after-school program, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra will bring music into the classroom throughout the school year: the HSO will perform “Symphony in the Schools” concerts at school-wide assemblies; students will attend field trips to the HSO’s Lincoln Financial Discovery Concerts at The Bushnell; third, fourth, and fifth graders will participate in the HSO’s new “Link Up” program, where they will perform in an interactive concert with the HSO at The Bushnell in May; students and families will be given the opportunity to attend certain HSO Masterworks and POPS! Series concerts free of charge; and students will participate in workshops and performances with HSO musicians, HSO guest artists, and local Latino musicians.
An essential supplement to the music curriculum is the Connecticut Center for Nonviolence’s “Peace is Possible” curriculum, which was created to help CityMusic students work together in a peaceful, cooperative musical ensemble and to apply methods of nonviolence to their everyday lives. The “Peace is Possible” curriculum includes: songs of peace and freedom movements from the USA and Latin America; conversations, drawings, role playing exercises, and songs inspired about peace; craft activities about peace, emotions, conflict, violence, and nonviolence; and study of successful nonviolence campaigns by such Latino leaders as Cesar Chavez, Roberto Clemente, as well as prominent American Civil Rights leaders. Additionally, the Connecticut Center for Nonviolence is providing an overview of the nonviolence training as a professional development workshop for the classroom teachers at Burns Academy. Hartford Performs, an arts education collaborative through Hartford Public Schools, assists in the “Peace is Possible” curriculum by providing arts activities through which students will learn methods of nonviolence.
COMPASS Youth Collaborative, the existing after-school program at Burns Academy, provides transportation, registration, snack, dinner, and administrative support for CityMusic.
Funding for CityMusic is made possible through generous support from the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and Hartford Public Schools, as well as its partner organizations, the Connecticut Center for Nonviolence, COMPASS Youth Collaborative, and Hartford Performs.
CityMusic is supported by the City of Hartford Arts & Heritage Jobs Grant Program, Pedro Segarra, Mayor.
To find out how you can support CityMusic, please contact HSO Director of Development, Individual Giving Tracy Wu Fastenburg at (860)246-8742 ext. 302 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.