Upcoming Events

No results found.

Top Results

No results found.

Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute Announces 2019-2020 Grant Recipients for PlayUSA

$500,000 in Grants Awarded to 17 Music Education Programs Across 15 States

Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, Empire State Youth Orchestra, Hawaii Youth Symphony, Juneau Alaska Music Matters, and Trenton Music Makers Selected for First Time

Growing PlayUSA Network, Now Entering its 5th Anniversary Year, Committed to Increasing Access to Instrumental Music Instruction for Young People Nationwide

(New York, NY, July 16, 2019)—Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI) today announced the 2019–2020 grant recipients for PlayUSA, a program that supports a wide range of instrumental music education projects across the United States, all specifically designed to reach low-income and underserved students on a local level. For its fifth anniversary year, Carnegie Hall has selected 17 organizations, including 5 new partners—Chicago Jazz PhilharmonicEmpire State Youth OrchestraHawaii Youth SymphonyJuneau Alaska Music Matters, and Trenton Music Makers—for a total of $500,000 in grants. In addition to financial support, the grantees join a nationwide network of innovative organizations committed to providing transformative music education opportunities for youth across the country.

New partners will receive one year of funding, and returning partners will receive two-year grants, both of which include consultation with Carnegie Hall staff, professional development for teachers, access to online resources and monthly webinars. In addition, an intervisitation will give partners a chance to come together in one national site and learn from each other’s practices. PlayUSA grants may be used to underwrite teaching fees for music instruction; purchase or rental of musical instruments as well as instrumental repair; and other programmatic costs.

“We are excited to welcome five fantastic and inspiring music education organizations to the PlayUSA community and continue to support educators around the country that are bringing high-quality, thoughtful instruction to the next generation of talented young musicians,” said Sarah Johnson, Carnegie Hall’s Chief Education Officer and Director of the Hall’s Weill Music Institute. “PlayUSA has built a robust and diverse national network of leaders in the music education field, and we look forward to collaborating and learning from one another in our fifth anniversary season, reaching more young people than ever before.”

Prior to welcoming the new partners, PlayUSA’s 2018–2019 season concludes with a summer convening held at Carnegie Hall from July 26–28 centered around the theme of “Artistry and Belonging,” exploring ways to strengthen partnerships with families and local communities. PUBLIQuartet leads the keynote address and activity exploring belonging and social identity, and violinist Shaw Pong Liu and Clarissa Turner, the founder of Legacy Lives On, leads a session on the role of music in healing and dialogue. Additional guest artists include oboist Hassan AndersonRajeeyah Finnie-Myers of the DreamYard Project, and educators Margaret Jenks and Randal SwiggumDennie Palmer Wolf from the arts research firm WolfBrown will also work with students, teachers, and staff to evaluate the impact of PlayUSA for an upcoming whitepaper to be released in spring 2020.

For more information about PlayUSA, visit carnegiehall.org/PlayUSA

About the New Grantees

Chicago Jazz Philharmonic (Chicago, IL)
Founded in 2004 by Orbert Davis and Mark Ingram as America’s definitive “Third Stream” orchestra, the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic (CJP) provides rich, accessible, and multicultural music experiences that bridge the gap between jazz and classical music. CJP performs works from jazz big band standards to classical symphonies while creating a new aesthetic through cross-genre collaborations. CJP also provides access to music education through Jazz Alive, a weekly music education program for Chicago Public School students, and Summer Jazz Academy, a two-week program that immerses students in music theory and practice. Chicago Jazz Philharmonic performances entertain and inspire, and the community-based education programs improve lives from school age through adulthood.

Empire State Youth Orchestra (Schenectady, NY)
Empire State Youth Orchestra (ESYO) is changing the lives of its musicians and the communities in which they live and perform, using music as a catalyst for social change. To further expand its impact, ESYO launched CHIME in 2015. CHIME (Creating Harmony Inspiring Musical Excellence) provides free daily music instruction to some of the region’s most underserved elementary and middle school children—youth who might not otherwise have the ability or income to seriously pursue music. Through CHIME, ESYO hopes to ensure the musicians of tomorrow are as diverse as the communities they seek to inspire. ESYO challenges more than 600 of the most talented youth from the Capital Region of New York, Western New England, and all walks of life to achieve musical excellence through intensive instruction and high-level performance. Through 12 performing ensembles and CHIME, ESYO is igniting a lifelong love of music in the youngest members of our communities, breaking boundaries, and fostering new connections.

Hawaii Youth Symphony (Honolulu, HI)
Established as a non-profit organization in 1964, the Hawaii Youth Symphony (HYS) promotes and celebrates the importance of music study on academic achievement and social-emotional development through its mission to develop youth to their fullest potential through orchestral music. Its programs serve youth from complete beginners through advanced performers, in settings ranging from chamber music to full symphony orchestra, band, and jazz ensembles. HYS aspires to make music a right, not a privilege, and aims to empower children everywhere with the joy, skills, and character building that music-making uniquely provides. Each year, the organization serves more than 700 students ages 7–18 from over 100 schools statewide.

Juneau Alaska Music Matters (Juneau, AK)
Juneau Alaska Music Matters (JAMM) is an El Sistema-inspired, tuition-free school readiness and enrichment program in Juneau, Alaska’s capital city, that uses music and community partnerships to promote academic success for all students. JAMM directly serves 500 students in three public elementary schools, including two Title One schools. In the 2019 – 2020 season, JAMM will expand into a middle school as well. JAMM and its partners—including the Juneau Symphony—are highly committed to at-risk students through programming that takes place both during and after school.

Trenton Music Makers (Trenton, NJ)
Trenton Music Makers is a free, high-intensity string program for students in grades 2–12. Young people learn violin, viola, cello or bass, and play as an orchestra, in addition to studying theory, choral singing, and bucket drumming. They are empowered to find and use their voice, and to work closely together to cultivate harmony and pursue ambitious goals for their orchestra and their city. 

About the Returning Grantees

Buffalo String Works (Buffalo, New York)
Buffalo String Works is a creative, grassroots program serving refugee students in Buffalo, New York, inspired by the international El Sistema model which cultivates students to be agents of social change. Founded and led by local musicians, Buffalo String Works (BSW) is a nonprofit organization providing high-quality music instruction on violin, viola, and cello, with students hailing from Syria, Burma/Myanmar, Thailand, and Somalia. Recognizing the significance of music as a universal language, the organization offers a creative outlet for children and their families who are searching for a sense of belonging in their new home.

Community MusicWorks (Providence, Rhode Island)
Founded in 1997, Community MusicWorks’ (CMW) mission is to create cohesive urban community through music education and performance that transforms the lives of children, families, and musicians. CMW’s model is centered around the teaching, mentoring, program design, and performance activities of their musicians-in-residence, the MusicWorks Collective.

El Sistema Oklahoma (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)
El Sistema Oklahoma has grown rapidly into a well-respected, successful and unique after-school program serving over 200 underserved public school children in the heart of Oklahoma City. El Sistema Oklahoma was founded by Cathy and Phil Busey, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, and the Wanda Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University through a creative partnership. The mission of El Sistema Oklahoma is to serve the community by engaging children within an ensemble-based music program so they can share the joy of music making and grow as responsible citizens.

Enriching Lives Through Music (San Rafael, California)
Enriching Lives Through Music (ELM) is an El Sistema-inspired program sparking passion and community engagement through a deep connection to music. The free and intensive music programs serve 120 students from the Latino immigrant Canal neighborhood of San Rafael, California. The students work with top-notch teachers, mentors, and musicians to progress from a tune on the recorder to a symphony, salsa or samba on a classical instrument.

INTEMPO (Stamford, Connecticut)
INTEMPO is a music education and youth development organization that aims to make music education accessible, relevant, and inclusive by emphasizing multiculturalism and native instruments. Using bilingual music instruction on classical instruments as well as cross-cultural repertoire and instrumentation, INTEMPO's programs reflect the true composition of the Latino community in Stamford.

Kidznotes (Durham, North Carolina)
Kidznotes’ mission is to change the lives of youth in the Triangle region of East Durham and Southeast Raleigh through participation in youth orchestras, bands, and choirs, with instruments and classes offered entirely free of charge. The program engages students, pre-K through 12th grade, in an intense, fully integrated, out-of-school musical program that includes instrumental instruction, choir, music theory, general music, orchestra, and band. The classes are taught by teaching artists, professional musicians, and music teachers who are committed to teaching young students.

Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra (Kalamazoo, Michigan)
For nearly 100 years, the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra (KSO) has performed high-quality symphonic music, fostering tomorrow's audiences, elevating the careers of Michigan musicians, and contributing to the vibrant educational environment of Kalamazoo. Through an equity-oriented lens, the KSO seeks to apply the unique and positive power of music learning to improve the lives of children and families through impactful partnerships within the social and educational sectors. PlayUSA funding supports the development of Kalamazoo Kids In Tune (KKIT), an innovative after-school orchestra and youth development program serving 1st–9th grade students, as well as Orchestra Rouh, a new program serving children of refugee families recently resettled in Kalamazoo. KKIT is a partnership of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Communities in Schools of Kalamazoo, and Kalamazoo Public Schools.

Music for Life (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Music for Life—from the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO)—offers youth in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans the opportunity to study music intensively throughout the year in one-on-one and small-group settings with both LPO musicians and peers. Throughout the school year and during a summer session, LPO mentors help students learn music theory, instrument technique, and other ways to connect with music and harness the mental, physical, and creative prowess critical to healthy youth development.

MYCincinnati (Cincinnati, Ohio)
MYCincinnati (Music for Youth in Cincinnati) is a free, daily youth orchestra program of Price Hill Will. Founded on the idea that personal transformation can be achieved by striving towards musical excellence, students enrolled in MYCincinnati have the opportunity to learn an orchestral instrument and play in an ensemble. MYCincinnati is inspired by El Sistema, Venezuela's revolutionary youth orchestra program that uses music as a vehicle for social change. Currently, there are nearly 120 students enrolled in MYCincinnati's daily programming.

Opportunity Music Project (New York, New York)
The mission of Opportunity Music Project (OMP) is to create a community where all children—regardless of economic background—can pursue their passion for music and gain the valuable personal and collaborative skills associated with the rigors of learning an instrument. OMP began in April 2011 with seven students. The program has since grown each year, and now serves a community of 125 students ages 4–18 from all boroughs of New York City and New Jersey, offering a full range of educational programming. Of all New York City’s after school music programs, OMP provides the largest number of tuition-free private lessons, along with offering partial scholarships to many families.

Scrollworks (Birmingham, Alabama)
The mission of Scrollworks is to make music instruction and ensemble playing available to all, thereby developing character and sense of community. Young people of diverse racial, social, cultural, neurodiversity, and economic backgrounds are encouraged to explore and cultivate their musical talent and contribute to Alabama's musical culture.

Tocando (El Paso, Texas
Tocando is the most recent education and outreach program of the El Paso Symphony Orchestra. Inspired by Venezuela’s highly successful El Sistema program, Tocando (“to play”) is designed to engage and empower disconnected youth at Title 1 elementary schools through intensive music instruction, academic tutoring, and performance opportunities. 


About Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute
Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI) creates visionary programs that embody Carnegie Hall’s commitment to music education, playing a central role in fulfilling the Hall’s mission of making great music accessible to as many people as possible. With unparalleled access to the world’s greatest artists, WMI’s programs are designed to inspire audiences of all ages, nurture tomorrow’s musical talent, and harness the power of music to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives. An integral part of Carnegie Hall’s concert season, these programs facilitate creative expression, develop musical skills and capacities at all levels, and encourage participants to make lifelong personal connections to music. The Weill Music Institute generates new knowledge through original research and is committed to giving back to its community and the field, sharing an extensive range of online music education resources and program materials for free with teachers, orchestras, arts organizations, and music lovers worldwide. More than 600,000 people each year engage in WMI’s programs through national and international partnerships, in New York City schools and community settings, and at Carnegie Hall. This includes more than half a million students and teachers worldwide who participate in WMI’s Link Up music education program for students in grades 3 through 5, made possible through Carnegie Hall partnerships with over 115 orchestras in the US from Alaska to Puerto Rico, as well as internationally in Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, Kenya, and Spain.

For more information, please visit: carnegiehall.org/Education.


Lead support for PlayUSA is provided by the Fund II Foundation.

The Weill Music Institute's programs are made available to a nationwide audience, in part, by an endowment grant from the Citi Foundation. 

Chicago Jazz Philharmonic photo at top of release by Zoe Davis.

# # #


Monday–Friday, 9:30 AM–5:30 PM 

Press Releases
Read about concerts, education and social impact programs, and special events.

Press Kits
In-depth press kits are available for a number of programs.

Press Photos
We provide artist, hall, and performance images to the media upon request.

Ticket and Media Guidelines
Are you a journalist seeking press tickets or an interview? Get answers.

People and History
Read more information about our storied history.
A Short History
Then and Now: Carnegie Hall History (PDF)
Clive Gillinson Biography

Annual Report