El Sistema-inspired Tune Up Philly takes flight

Posted on: December 14, 2010

In Sunday’s (12/12) Philadelphia Inquirer, Peter Dobrin writes, “Tune Up Philly, the ambitious new after-school music program at St. Francis de Sales School in West Philadelphia, raised its curtain publicly for the first time Saturday with an afternoon concert of orchestral and mixed ensembles. … The brainchild of Curtis Institute of Music graduate Stanford Thompson, 24, and adopted by the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, Tune Up Philly started at St. Francis de Sales this school year with the aim of replicating itself at other sites—perhaps next year, or sooner. Modeled on the widely praised and emulated El Sistema program, which has educated millions of children in Venezuela, Philadelphia’s upstart already has gathered considerable support. Since initial coverage in The Inquirer and subsequent media attention, the program has received donations of cellos, clarinets, double basses, flutes, saxophones, trumpets, trombones, violas, violins, and other instruments, plus about $13,000 in cash and $10,000 in in-kind services. Though no additional schools are yet signed up, Tune Up Philly is in talks with philanthropists and other funding sources to start programs in North and Northeast Philadelphia. Each site, with about a dozen instructors, costs an estimated $300,000 per year to run. It is free, or nearly free, to the families it serves.”

Posted December 14, 2010