Berklee City Music at the White House

By
Nick Balkin
November 14, 2008
From left: First Lady Laura Bush; Erica Telisnor, Berklee City Music student; J. Curtis Warner, Jr., executive director, Berklee City Music; Eileen Mason, senior deputy chairman of the NEA.
Photo by Steven E. Purcell

Berklee City Music, which offers musical instruction and performance opportunities for Boston-area youth, has been nationally recognized as a recipient of the prestigious 2008 Coming Up Taller Award.

J. Curtis Warner Jr., executive director of Berklee City Music, and Krystal Banfield, director of City Music Boston, were among those honored by First Lady Laura Bush at a ceremony in Washington D.C. The Berklee City Music All-Stars and City Music student Erica Telisnor of Hyde Park were featured performers at the ceremony, which took place in the East Room of the White House on Friday, November 14.

Coming Up Taller, an initiative of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, recognizes and supports outstanding community arts and humanities programs that celebrate the creativity of young people and provide them with new learning opportunities and a chance to contribute to their communities.

Berklee City Music, created in 1991, provides private lessons, ensemble, and musicianship classes for talented middle and high school students from low-income communities. The program grants scholarships to approximately 50 students annually to participate in Berklee's prestigious and intensive Five-Week Summer Performance program. 10 students receive full-tuition, four-year scholarships to Berklee each year. More than 90 percent of participants stay in the program throughout high school. Proceeds from the Coming Up Taller award will seed a much-needed BCM instrument fund.

"This prestigious award acknowledges the work of our dedicated youth, faculty, and leadership," Warner said. "It propels us into a national arena of exemplary arts programs, all of which are changing lives—one note, one brush stroke, and one step at a time."