Posted by Karen
Just prior to Dudamel and Abreu, the audience got to meet Stanford Thompson. The Curtis graduate, a talented musician and trumpet player, Stanford shared a story of finding himself highly trained with a dream to play in the Philadelphia Orchestra. After a stint in Kenya to found a small program based on El Sistema, he was accepted as a fellow at the New England Conservatory’s El Sistema fellowship. And then he took these skills back to Philly and founded "Play on Philly," an after school program based on the principles of El Sistema. Yes, the written story is amazing. But the man himself was even more amazing. Hearing him talk with humility and humor about his path and the challenges brought tears to my eyes. I’m sure there was an easier – and certainly more lucrative – path for this incredible young musician, but I’m not sure any of those paths would have touched so many people or changed as many young lives. The kids are learning to play and experiencing great guests like Simon Rattle and Bobby McFerrin, but Stanford is also gathering data that proves HIS kids are also getting better grades and becoming better overall citizens. Stanford chuckled when he shared that each year the program sends the Mayor of Philadelphia a bill for all the kids they've kept out of juvenile hall.
I’d strongly encourage you to take the 6 minutes to watch the video below. Of course, the Dude was as incredible and inspiring as always. But it was nice to meet the next generation and see how the threads from that beginning in Venezuela connect – from Abreu to Dudamel to Thompson.
The Bolivars present two concerts, tonight and tomorrow night, at Zellerbach. I’ll be there for at least one – hope you see you “out and about” in Berkeley.