Transforming lives through music: a grantee spotlight of the MacPhail Center for Music

By the MacPhail Center for the Arts

The MacPhail Center for Music is incredibly grateful for ongoing support from the George Family Foundation for our MacPhail Northside Youth Orchestra (MNYO) and Ascension Catholic School’s After-School Strings programs. The past year has been both eventful and impactful, and the following briefly summarizes what we have accomplished in the community since your gift of $30,000 in 2018. Our 31 years of collaboration and music education in North Minneapolis continues to deepen as we strengthen existing relationships with schools and community organizations.

In its fifth year, MNYO has created a unique ensemble opportunity for youth with an orchestra program that is open to students from all backgrounds and supports young musicians of varying playing levels. MNYO rehearses for two hours every Saturday and has numerous opportunities to perform at venues throughout the community. For the first time, our partners at the Minnesota Orchestra held their weeklong residency program called “Common Chords” in North Minneapolis, during which students collaborated with orchestra members in activities, including a full-day retreat. These opportunities have allowed students to progress with their instruments as part of a full orchestra and develop critical life skills, including collaboration, work ethic and focus.

Meanwhile, MacPhail’s partnership with Ascension Catholic School to provide the After-School Strings program serves as a cornerstone in the lives of aspiring musicians in grades 3-8 — most from low-income families — as they receive free music instruction in violin, viola and cello for two hours a day, three days a week.

We often find personal stories display Ascension’s impact on the deepest level, one that is not captured by quantitative measures. Victoria and her husband Hassan live in North Minneapolis, and their family first interacted with MacPhail through Way to Grow, where their kids loved having guitar time with “Mr. Nick.” Neither Victoria nor Hassan had a music background, but they both loved seeing their kids enjoy music and were glad when a MacPhail School Partnership began at Ascension Catholic School. Victoria said they have kept their kids at Ascension specifically for the MacPhail program. As their six kids have grown, their connection to MacPhail has expanded as well through individual summer instruction, which keep up the kids’ skills when they are out of school. Their oldest — an Ascension grad — is now a member of MNYO and has received a scholarship to continue private lessons.

We are thrilled at the opportunity to continue our partnership with the George Family Foundation in the coming years. Your support of our programming in North Minneapolis makes a significant difference in the lives of young students by providing cultural relevance, structure, support and a creative outlet where they can receive the many benefits of a quality music education.