Classical Music for All: How Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras Is Diversifying Musical Training

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In 1998, Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras launched the Intensive Community Program (ICP) as a response to the barriers keeping classical music training out of reach for many would-be musicians, including African Americans and Latinxs, who are underrepresented in orchestras.

The program lowers those barriers in Massachusetts by providing top-tier orchestra training to students in kindergarten through twelfth grade from underserved communities in and around Boston. ICP serves as an audition-based feeder program for BYSO’s six performance ensembles — 12% of BYSO musicians attend ICP.

First Republic spoke with ICP Artistic Director Nicole Cariglia and students Kensie Carroll and Noanddi Manigat to learn about their intensive music community, which adapted to virtual performances in the wake of the pandemic.

Waking up to music

As a very young child, 9-year-old Kensie Caroll woke up each morning to the sounds of cello and viola as her two sisters, twins six years older than Kensie, practiced their respective instruments for ICP.

“She was in a stroller, going to Sydney and Sadie’s auditions,” said Kensie’s father, Marc. Born into their music and the ICP lifestyle, when Kensie auditioned for the program at the age of four, she was ready.

But five years ago, as Kensie’s parents considered having her audition for ICP, Artistic Director Nicole Cariglia was a bit concerned: “I said, ‘Marc, she’s really young.’” Most four-year-olds don’t earn one of the selective program’s 90 slots. Kensie did. And as she began her own cello training, the demands didn’t surprise her. “By default, she knew what she had to do: Get up, practice, then go to school, and then go to the rehearsals and lessons,” Marc said.


Diversifying Musical Training



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