‘Play date’: A conversation with Stanford Thompson and Thomas Lloyd

    When we arranged a “play date” with Stanford Thompson and Thomas Lloyd, neither had ever met the other. We wanted to capture two Creative Connectors connecting for the first time, through music.

    We were wrong – all of us. When the two finally met in person at Haverford College, they realized they had, indeed, met earlier when Thompson was a Curtis student hired as a “ringer” to join the Haverford student orchestra in a performance of Verdi Requiem conducted by Lloyd.

    The pair met again recently at Haverford College  to play an impromptu arrangement of the spiritual, “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.”

    Since graduating from Curtis, Thompson has launched an ambitious music training program for schoolchildren. Based on a pioneering Venezuelan music education program – El Sistema – Thompson’s “Play On, Philly!” (POP) is an intensive after-school workshop for kids with little or no musical background.

    Every day, one of 17 professional musicians on the POP roster visits St. Frances de Sales in West Philadelphia to teach. It starts with the very basics: Many of the children first have to be taught the name of the instrument they are assigned to play.  By the end of the year, they perform more than a dozen recitals. Even if they never go pro (realistically, few will) a daily musical discipline has been proven to improve a child’s life in almost every aspect.

    Thomas Lloyd is a music professor at Haverford College, where he directs the vocal studies program. He is also active in community choirs in the area, including the Bucks County Choral Society, and the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral.

    Holding degrees in both music and theology, Lloyd was interested in bridging gaps between faiths. In 2010 he brought together the predominately white Bucks County choir with the voices at the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, in Doylestown. The two concerts, each in the other’s home turf, melded different faiths, cultures, styles, and voices; the effect was triumphant.

    Watch and listen as two Connectors make music together.

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