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The West Point Band believes strongly in supporting tri-state area schools and their children through music education, and the Harmony Program is at the forefront of efforts in New York City. Their work epitomizes values such as goodwill and selfless service, and our musicians have been honored to collaborate with Harmony to bring events to the students.
This past Saturday, five members of the West Point Band participated in a full day event geared towards coaching students from New York City’s “Harmony Program” along with members of the New York Philharmonic. This is the second time the West Point Band has collaborated with Harmony and the NY Phil to provide free instruction for students enrolled in the program. In the recent past, the Cadet Strings and many members of the West Point Band have visited with the Harmony Program students and coached them on their music and also performed for them.
The Harmony Program is a nonprofit organization that brings intensive after-school music programs to communities with limited access to instrumental music education. It is formatted after the wildly successful “El Sistema” in Venezuela, founded by Maestro José Abreu. El Sistema gained traction in the U.S. after Abreu was awarded a TED prize in 2009 that would cover the expenses of training teachers and implementing the curriculum in the communities that had the need for the kind of community support that this music program offers.
Abreu’s goal is “No longer putting society at the service of art, and much less at the services of monopolies of the elite, but instead art at the service of society, at the service of the weakest, at the service of the children, at the service of the sick, at the service of the vulnerable, and at the service of all those who cry for vindication through the spirit of their human condition and the raising up of their dignity.”
The day consisted of side by side rehearsals on the stage of the historic United Palace Theater in Washington Heights under the direction of NY Phil staff conductor Michael Adelson, and also small group lessons lead by West Point and NY Phil musicians. The day culminated with a performance for friends and family of the students, and supporters of the program.
Words by Staff Sgt. Kristen Mather de Andrade