Grace notes

    This time of year, Christmas carols and holiday songs waft from every corner and from every building. On Saturday, a rendition of “Jingle Bells” was more than just an old standard piped over ancient P.A. system.

    Inquirer music critic Peter Dobrin details the debut of Tune-Up Philly, an after-school music program at St. Francis de Sales School in West Philly. Students picked up orchestral instruments just 10 weeks ago, and under the auspices of the program, performed on Saturday to roaring approval from family, friends, and the program’s major benefactor, Carole Haas Gravagno.

    The music program is modeled after a Venzuelan initiative called El Sistema. Philadelphia’s version was created by Stanford Thompson, a Curtis Institute of Music grad, and adopted by the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra. The program has caught on – about 80 students are enrolled and a wait list has grown as word has spread.

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