Art of Life — Produced by Karen Smyles
Play On, Philly! (POP) is an innovative education and social initiative that provides opportunities for personal development to children through the study of music. Inspired by the social development and music education program of Venezuela called El Sistema, POP seeks to enrich the lives of Philadelphia youth by providing daily musical instruction in communities that have little access to music education. Students have the opportunity to work with Philadelphia’s finest music organizations like The Philadelphia Orchestra and The Curtis Institute of Music, and artists like Wynton Marsalis, Sir Simon Rattle, Marin Alsop and many more.
The organization was founded in 2011 by Stanford Thompson a trumpeter and Curtis Graduate who felt it was his mission to help other young people have the same quality of musical experiences he was given throughout his life. With the assistance of the organization’s chairperson Carole Haas Gravagno, they have firmly established programs in 2 Philadelphia schools with the goal of adding many more in the future.
Art of Life had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Thompson about why Play On Philly! is so important to him and the changes he believes it can make in the lives of Philadelphia’s children. We also speak with Carole Haas Gravagno, directors from the two schools involved in the program, and two very talented young musicians.