Reuniting with my colleagues in the Sistema Fellowship always provides new ideas and inspiration, and my time with Dantes Rameau and the Atlanta Music Project was no exception. Dantes and I were roommates during the first year of the Sistema Fellows Program and we experienced everything Sistema for the first time together through the year. We both grew up in similar circumstances: supportive parents, nurturing households, dedicated mentors, and unparalleled opportunities to grow musically and socially.
We now found ourselves in Boston because we both had a burning desire to use our talents to lift up the next generation of young people in our communities. These are kids who are growing up the way we did, many who do not have half of the opportunities and support we did. Through the Fellowship, we found ourselves traveling through Venezuela for two months and returned to the states eager to go to our respective communities to roll our sleeves up.
Dantes ended up founding the Atlanta Music Project and I established Play On, Philly! We have stayed close friends and continue to encourage each other to accomplish more than we ever thought possible. Our meetings are always full of energy and debate, encouragement and laughter. Always trying to one up the other, but always willing to lend a hand to pull the other up too.
This fall, Dantes decided to screen the documentary CRESCENDO: The Power of Music, produced by Jamie Bernstein and Elizabeth Kling, have the students of AMP perform, and have a round table discussion that included the Assistant Conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Joseph Young, and moderated by Dr. Scott Stewart. The discussion included talking about our backgrounds, our visions for our organizations and hope for the children we serve. The audience was extremely receptive and I enjoyed returning to my hometown to share my experiences with a community that did so much to support my growth.
The bonds formed at the New England Conservatory will last a lifetime. The impact reaches into the lives of thousands of children being impacted by the Sistema Fellows throughout the world. Dantes and I continue to fight and struggle the way Dr. Abreu taught us and we are determined to continue to lead our peers by showing what is possible with a little music and a bunch of passion for social justice.
Stanford Thompson, Sistema Fellow '10