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Project STEP and Longwood Symphony Orchestra (LSO): Impact Through Harmony is an inside look at the partnership between two Boston based organizations working together to bring collaborative concerts to the Greater Boston community.
Partnerships are abundant throughout Massachusetts. Take, for example, the joint endeavors of the Jimmy Fund and Boston Red Sox, who since 1953 have combined to support cancer research efforts at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Or two regional beverage favorites – Dunkin’ and Harpoon Brewery – joining forces to create a three-beer mix with hints of New Englanders’ favorite morning brew. In each case, success comes from a harmonious relationship that hits all the right notes. And when two Boston-based musical nonprofit organizations come together, harmony is found.
This is precisely what Project STEP, a nonprofit committed to addressing the imbalance of racial and ethnic minorities in classical music, and Longwood Symphony Orchestra (LSO), made up of musicians from across the medical and healthcare industries, are discovering.
The two organizations, both established in 1982, announced a three-year partnership in October which will bring multiple collaborative concerts to the Greater Boston community, the first of which took place on October 28 at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall and featured distinguished Project STEP alumna Mariana Green-Hill along with Project STEP students and the LSO.
Project STEP and LSO joining together is a natural fit. The organizations are excited for these joint concerts and are exploring opportunities to include STEP students in LSO’s community engagement activities with local hospitals and medical centers.
It’s no secret that funding for the arts has been a priority for Massachusetts recently, especially during the last few years as organizations have ramped up efforts to recover from the hardships brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to National Endowment for the Arts, approximately twenty-seven billion dollars were added to the state’s economy from arts and cultural production. However, that incredible funding amount is not translating to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Mass Cultural Council, in their Racial Equity Plan for 2022-2024, shared data from New Profit that showed while thirty percent of the United States population is Black and/or Latinx just four percent of those philanthropic contributions are distributed to organizations led by Black and/or Latinx individuals.
Project STEP (String Training Education Program), guided by Josué González, the nonprofit’s executive director, is celebrating forty years of championing equity in classical music in hopes of eliminating barriers to both participation and funding. Under González’s stewardship, the nonprofit is furthering its commitment to reach its vision: a world in which the classical music profession reflects the racial and ethnic diversity of its communities. In a time when investment in the arts is needed, the organization’s partnership with LSO strikes the right chord and will help Project STEP continue to reach and serve underrepresented communities in the Greater Boston area.
“We are thrilled to partner with LSO to further our relationship as arts-based nonprofit organizations committed to musical diversity and accessibility in the Greater Boston area,” says González. “We look forward to co-hosting concerts during each of the next three years with LSO and the opportunity to collaborate outside of those events to further the ties between our fantastic students and the broader LSO community.”
LSO, named after Boston’s Longwood Medical Area, is a nonprofit comprised primarily of healthcare professionals, researchers, medical students, therapists, and caregivers that focuses on combining the healing arts of music and medicine. The partnership is part of LSO’s The Healing Art of Music program, which to date has raised nearly three million dollars for Boston-based nonprofits since being established in 1991. Project STEP is the first LSO partner to perform with the orchestra in decades.
The Healing Art of Music program presents four public concerts each year, all of which raise funds and awareness for Boston-based nonprofit organizations that aid the city’s underserved communities. Since it began, the program has raised funds for more than fifty-five nonprofits.
As the rhythm between the two organizations aligned, the ability to partner with each other became apparent.
“In the short amount of time that I have shared with the Longwood Symphony Orchestra, I have been engulfed by an enormous amount of warmth and love,” says Jotaro Nakano, Music Director at LSO. “And while our untold future together awaits us, the limitlessness of our newfound partnership fills me with awe and hope.”
Proceeds from this year’s concert and subsequent future concerts will benefit Project STEP’s mission to provide stringed instrument (violin, viola, cello, double bass) training for its participants. These crucial funds enhance students’ experiences within the program, from which one hundred percent of graduates attend college or conservatory, and sixty percent continue in the field of music as a profession. Over the past four decades, Project STEP has introduced more than two thousand students to music with hopes to continue to increase that total in addition to the number of graduates who have attended schools such as Juilliard, Harvard, New England Conservatory, Yale, Columbia, and Brown.
Project STEP and LSO, through shared missions and values, have created what will be lasting impacts for their communities. As two classical music organizations which have been entrenched in the Greater Boston community for four decades, these nonprofits remain committed to improving access and removing barriers. While the partnership is just beginning, we hope it is simply a prelude of what is to come, leading to a crescendo in impact.
By Jodie McMenamin, Director of Development and Marketing at Project STEP
Project STEP and Longwood Symphony Orchestra: Impact Through Harmony was first posted at INSIDE CHARITY
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