August 24, 2018
The Harmony Program is delighted to announce the arrival of two new staff members:
Director of Education – Norma Núñez-Ruch
Our new Director of Education is a native Venezuelan, who has been involved with Venezuela’s “El Sistema” for more than 20 years. She gained first-hand knowledge of El Sistema pedagogy as a student violist in the Venezuelan program for fourteen years. An accomplished violist, she played with Venezuelan orchestras for a decade beginning at age 10. After graduating from the University of Santa Maria in Caracas, Norma went on to work for the National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras and Choirs of Venezuela for over 7 years, in various administrative roles. Norma was named a Ford Motor Company International Fellow of the 92nd Street Y in 2011, becoming the first and only Venezuelan to receive this award. As an educator, Norma has taught viola in several El Sistema locations in her native Venezuela, and in 2014-2015, while studying for her master’s degree in Cultural Management at Universidad Carlos III, she coached the children of the Jonsui Children’s Orchestra in Madrid, Spain. For the last 3 years, she has been the Program Director of El Sistema Lehigh Valley, a program of the Allentown Symphony Association and also assumed the role of Education Director for the symphony. She is fluent in Spanish and English.
Executive Assistant – Sean Craig
Sean comes to the Harmony Program with a passion for music, community, and arts administration. In college, he studied music and theater, with a focus on ethnomusicology and performance’s role in social justice. He immersed himself in the DC arts community, working as a writer and theater practitioner and interning for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. After graduating, Sean worked for a research and consulting start-up in Washington, DC, and he is thrilled to bring his strategic experience to the Harmony Program. Sean graduated from Georgetown University in 2016, with highest honors in American Musical Culture, Theater and Performance Studies, and English. In addition to his work at the Harmony Program, Sean writes freelance music reviews and short fiction.
July 16, 2018
Another successful Harmony Program year has concluded with student recitals across the city, featuring a broad array of performances such as Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” “The Great Gate of Kiev” from Pictures at an Exhibition, and “New York, New York” — a fitting salute to our city. As we wrap up the year and prepare for our summer season, we reflect on the recent spring recitals with enormous gratitude for the dedication of our teachers, the hard work of our students, and the indispensable support of their families. Bravi tutti!
July 16, 2018
We are excited to welcome Jackie Levine to our staff as Harmony’s new full-time Program Assistant. Jackie joins us with a longstanding interest in El Sistema-inspired music education organizations. As an undergraduate, she spent the summer of 2015 teaching violin and conducting ensembles with Arpégio, Peru. Additionally, she organized and led a student trip to visit similar programs in the Baltimore/DC area. Just prior to joining us, Jackie was Assistant Editor of music textbooks in the Higher Education Division at Oxford University Press, and is looking forward to applying her experience developing music-related educational content to her work at the Harmony Program. Jackie graduated from Princeton University with high honors in musicology and orchestral conducting performance.
July 16, 2018
Our All Stars concert with Harmony students and members of the New York Philharmonic is a highly anticipated event. This year’s fourth annual performance of our All Stars took place on May 30th in the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center.
The 2018 Harmony Program All Stars Ensemble consisted of four high school students and fourteen elementary and middle school students from twelve different schools in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Long Island. Seven students made their All Star debuts, while eleven had been involved with this event in past years as well. All of them were selected as All Stars through a competitive audition process.
Please enjoy a clip from the concert featuring Telemann’s Concerto for Four Violins in D Major, performed by Harmony violinists Angelo Chery, Christele Cherestal, and Luigi Auquilla, and New York Philharmonic violinist, Hae-Young Ham.
April 11, 2018
In honor of Harmony Program’s 10th Anniversary, we invited all of our elementary and middle school students to participate in an essay contest. One overall grand prize winner and two 2nd prize winners — in the elementary and middle school categories — were selected from among the 24 essays submitted by a panel of Harmony Program Board members.
Here at the Harmony Program, we believe that all children should have access to music education. We tell the stories of how our students grow through music — socially, developmentally, and academically — and it was a powerful testament to hear our students tell their stories in their own words. We were delighted to read all of the thoughtful responses, where students expressed what the world would look like if everyone had access to Harmony Program, and how participating in the program has helped them overcome challenges.
Violinist Joe Mendoza from Castle Bridge School said that “the Harmony Program would be able to teach all the kids in the world that anything is possible if you try.”
Second-prize winner Jhazlyn Troncoso-Hiraldo, a violinist at Castle Bridge School, had this to say:
“For the past five years, I have been bullied for being myself. Harmony has pushed me in ways I didn’t think were possible. Not only has my music skills gotten better but everyone including Ms. Gizem accepts me for who I am. I didn’t have to change who I was because they showed me the true meaning of respect, love and friendship.”
Other participants expressed that being at Harmony Program has taught them useful skills that they can apply outside of school. Bass student Ryan Hau, who attends Harmony Program Youth Orchestra, expressed that “during orchestra [Harmony teachers] Ms.Kelly and Mr. Larry tell us to always listen to everyone before we play. When we communicate better, we should listen with our hearts.” Ryan feels that he is now a better listener at home when communicating with his family.
We are grateful to our students for expressing themselves so honestly and openly in their essays. We also want to express our gratitude to our teachers and all of our community supporters.
“The world would be an amazing place if every child had a chance to participate in the Harmony Program. Kids would be more creative, kind, intelligent, and peaceful by discovering what they love and putting their hearts into it. We can
work together to help the world. Even if we don’t see it with our bare eyes, we can feel it in our hearts,” wrote 1st Prize Winner, Victoria Wheby.
Together, we are building a better future.
The Harmony Program Celebrates 10 Years of Providing Under-Served Students with Access and Excellence in Music Education
March 27, 2018
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MARCH 27, 2018 – This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Harmony Program, an organization that brings free instrumental music education into under-served communities across New York City and Long Island. Over the past ten years, the Harmony Program has provided over 1,000 children with free instruments and over 350,000 hours of music Instruction.
The Harmony Program was created in 2003 by Anne Fitzgibbon as a pilot program within the New York City Mayor’s Office. Anne was later awarded a yearlong Fulbright Fellowship in 2007 to study El Sistema, Venezuela’s world-renowned national youth orchestra program, and adapted tenets of that successful model to the meet the needs of children and families in New York.
In 2008, the Harmony Program established an institutional partnership with the City University of New York (CUNY), and distinguished its model of music education with an emphasis on community-based programming, uniquely intensive instruction, ensemble performance, and a formal system of teacher training. Targeting children between eight and 13 years of age (grades 3rd through 8th), the Harmony Program prioritizes reaching children in need; an estimated 84 percent of students qualify for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program. 72% of Harmony students are African-American and Latino, populations historically under-represented in the classical music genre. “The Harmony Program is proud of our decade of service and of our growing community of remarkable young musicians. Their accomplishments are a testament to what can be achieved when we simply provide children with opportunities and set high expectations,” said Anne Fitzgibbon, founder and Executive Director of the Harmony Program. “Our efforts, in addition to a growing body of research, continue to remind us that music can change lives in powerfully positive ways. We are so grateful to our many sponsors and partners who have helped us expand access to music education in New York.”
The Harmony Program’s unique model also addresses the need for well-trained music teachers by preparing accomplished musicians to teach at partnering public schools and community centers throughout New York City and on Long Island. The Harmony Program’s teachers receive year-round professional development and mentoring to ensure the quality of instruction in Harmony’s classrooms.
In celebration of their 10th year, the Harmony Program will host their 10th anniversary gala and benefit concert on April 25th. The concert will be a celebration of the dedication and achievements of Harmony Program students as they play alongside Grammy-award winning violinist Joshua Bell, Grammy-award nominated producer and cuatrista Jorge Glem, New York Philharmonic Principal Clarinet Anthony McGill, string trio Time for Three, and soprano Larisa Martínez, to name just a few.
The Harmony Program currently operates 12 sites in New York City and Long Island. During 2019, they have plans for significant expansion to 20 sites and a network of youth orchestras, serving 500 students from all five boroughs.
About the Harmony Program
The Harmony Program is a non-profit organization that provides children from under-served communities with free instruments, intensive music instruction, orchestral training and access to a variety of cultural experiences in an effort to promote self-confidence, creativity, social development and academic success.
The Harmony Program’s unique model also addresses a shortage of well-trained music teachers by preparing accomplished musicians to teach at partnering public schools and community centers throughout New York City and on Long Island. Each year, the Harmony Program provides up to 150,000 hours of music instruction. The Harmony Program plans significant expansion next year to 20 after-school programs and youth orchestras city-wide serving an estimated 500 students from all five boroughs.
March 20, 2018
Earlier this month, Harmony Program students, Angelo Chery, Luigi Auquilla, Christele Cherestal, Thanddnes Palmer, and Justin Laurenceau, were invited to take part in the international “Encounters/Encuentros” festival with Gustavo Dudamel in Mexico City. Mexico’s Sistema Nacional de Fomento Musical and Mexican composer, Arturo Márquez, partnered with the Gustavo Dudamel Foundation to host a four-day orchestra workshop for 160 young musicians from Canada, the United States, Mexico, Venezuela, and Argentina. Students participated in three full days of rehearsals in preparation for the final concert at the Palacio de Bellas Artes on Sunday, March 4th. The festival was a thrilling experience for our students, both culturally and artistically, and we are grateful to Gustavo Dudamel, his foundation, and to all of our hosts in Mexico for this special opportunity.