First Lady Michelle Obama Recognizes Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's OrchKids for Excellence in Youth Program Awards

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OrchKids is one of 12 programs honored at the White House for generating positive youth outcomes.

OrchKids

The recognition from the White House and the First Lady confirms what we've known for some time now: music education can change lives. -Dan Trahey, OrchKids artistic director

The White House today announced that the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids™ program is one of 12 recipients of the 2013 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards, the signature program of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. The BSO’s flagship community engagement program is recognized for its effectiveness in developing learning and life skills in young people by fostering arts and arts education in their communities. Later today in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama will present the award to OrchKids Artistic Director Dan Trahey and eighth grader Asia Palmer, who has participated in OrchKids since 2008. OrchKids is a year-round after-school music program designed to create social change and nurture promising futures for youth in Baltimore neighborhoods. In partnership with the Baltimore City Public School system, OrchKids serves more than 750 students spanning pre-kindergarten through eighth grades across five Title I schools in West and East Baltimore.

The 2 p.m. awards ceremony will be live-streamed here.

“The recognition from the White House and the First Lady confirms what we've known for some time now: music education can change lives,” said Trahey. “The award substantiates the success of the Venezuelan El Sistema model in the U.S., as OrchKids continues to grow and positively impact more students across Baltimore City.”

“I am thrilled about this extraordinary award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities,” said BSO Music Director and OrchKids founder Marin Alsop. “Looking back over the last five years, I couldn't be more proud of the progress our OrchKids have made throughout their time in the program. I am confident that they will continue to make great strides in the future.”

Chosen from a pool of more than 350 nominations and 50 finalists, OrchKids is one of only 12 after-school and out-of-school programs across the country to receive the award, which is the highest honor such programs can receive in the United States. The awards are administered by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

In addition to recognition at the White House, each program receives $10,000 and a year of support from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Louis Vuitton is the corporate sponsor of the 2013 award program, and Fox Audience Strategy is the national media partner.

For more information about the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards, visit http://www.pcah.gov.

About OrchKids
OrchKids™ is a year-round after-school music program designed to create social change and nurture promising futures for youth in Baltimore City neighborhoods. In partnership with the Baltimore City Public School system, OrchKids provides students with instruments, academic instruction, positive role models, field trips, daily healthy meals and more. Marking its sixth year in 2013-2014, OrchKids serves more than 750 students spanning pre-kindergarten through eighth grades across five Title I schools in West and East Baltimore.

Under Music Director Marin Alsop’s artistic leadership and direction, OrchKids is a cornerstone of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s efforts to expand the Orchestra’s relevance within the City’s broad and diverse community. In 2008, Maestra Alsop directed $100,000 of her MacArthur Genius Prize as seed money to launch the program, and remains an active participant as a mentor to the students, in joint public performances, and in advancing community and funding partnerships. Extraordinary sustaining support for the OrchKids program is provided by Robert E. Meyerhoff & Rheda Becker.

OrchKids is inspired by Venezuela’s El Sistema, the music program that in 30 years has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in that country’s most impoverished areas. Like El Sistema, OrchKids is intended primarily to address the most pervasive social challenges affecting underserved youth, using music to cultivate fundamental life skills such as self-expression, cooperative learning, discipline and creativity.

About the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards
The National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award is the nation’s highest honor for after-school arts and humanities programs. The awards recognize and support outstanding programs that lay new pathways to creativity, expression, and achievement outside of the regular school day. These programs excite and engage a range of students, cultivating imagination, collaboration, discipline and academic success, with demonstrable results. They also provide safe harbors after-school, weekends and evenings for children and youth in some of our country’s most at-risk urban and rural settings.

About the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Created in 1982 by Executive Order, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) is an advisory committee to the White House on cultural issues. The PCAH works directly with the Administration and the three primary cultural agencies—National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)—as well as other federal partners and the private sector, to address policy questions in the arts and humanities, to initiate and support key programs in those disciplines, and to recognize excellence in the field. Its core areas of focus are arts and humanities education, cultural exchange, and community revitalization. Mrs. Michelle Obama, like other first ladies before her, serves as honorary chairman of the committee, which is composed of both private and public members. For more information, visit: http://www.pcah.gov.

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