Join us for a panel discussion focusing on the work of four community music partners in major cities working in the K-12 space: Peabody Preparatory in Baltimore, New England Conservatory Prep in Boston, Merit School of Music in Chicago, and Play on Philly in Philadelphia. The discussion will focus on the unique challenges and approaches made by each organization to DEI work in their community music space to help develop and establish a pathway to college for each community’s unique economically underserved student populations.
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Rebecca Bogers is the Dean and Director of New England Conservatory's Preparatory School. During her five years as Preparatory School Director, she increased enrollment and launched many new initiatives. Her recent successes also include a major expansion in early childhood programming, the expansion of the orchestra program, and exciting new Musical Explorers access program and the launch of BEAM (Bridge to Equity and Achievement in Music), which is a major Boston partnership program to create pathways to musical excellence for underserved and underrepresented minorities in classical music.
A Boston native, she received her Master of Music in Harp Performance from Temple University and her Bachelor’s in Harp Performance from New England Conservatory. Bogers has successfully led many international youth orchestra tours, forging local and international partnerships around music education. In additional to her work at NEC, she is part of the L.A. Philharmonic Take a Stand team, working to create a strong summer orchestral experience for Sistema students from around the country. Prior to her time at NEC, she also worked with the Philadelphia Orchestra as a teaching artist presenting programs throughout Philadelphia Schools with orchestra members and helping write and design Philadelphia Orchestra Education curriculum materials. She also worked as the ensemble coordinator for the Temple Music Prep, helping run their string orchestra and chamber music programs at the Center for Gifted Young Musicians.
Senior Associate Dean of Institute Studies Abra K. Bush, DMA, oversees all elements of the curriculum and personnel for the academic and applied study areas of the Peabody Institute, including faculty affairs, Academic Affairs, Ensemble Operations, and the Arthur Friedheim Music Library. Read Abra Bush's full bio>>
Charles Grode is an experienced and passionate leader in arts and education, with more than 25 years’ experience in organizational, relationship, resource, and staff development. Since 2015 he has served as President & Executive Director for the Merit School of Music in Chicago, IL. Dedicated to inclusion, diversity, equity, and antiracism, Merit is a nationally recognized community music school, annually helping more than 3,000 young people transform their lives by providing access to an excellent music education. Merit’s 125 passionate and experienced faculty members offer sustained introductory, preparatory, and conservatory level music instruction, including classical and jazz, and featuring band, voice, and orchestra, as well as guitar and piano. Merit provides nearly $1.5MM – a quarter of its $6MM annual budget – in direct support to its diverse student body through scholarships, tuition relief, low-cost instrument rental, and transportation. Virtually 100 percent of graduates from Merit's Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory are accepted into college or university.
Between 2016 and 2018, Grode co-led a collaborative planning process engaging more than 40 of Chicagoland’s leading music and education organizations, resulting in the Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative. Funded through a three-year, multi-million-dollar grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and housed at Merit, CMPI aims to identify aspiring young musicians from traditionally under-represented communities and provide the training and support necessary for them to audition into college-level conservatories and schools of music. The long-term goal of the project, and similar Mellon-funded projects in Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C., is to create a pool of professional musicians who will help our nation’s orchestras reflect the rich diversity of our country.
Prior to joining Merit, Grode was a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s senior staff, culminating his tenure there as Vice President for the Negaunee Music Institute, which oversees the organization’s extensive education, community engagement, and training programs. Created under his leadership in 2008, and engaging more than 200,000 students, educators, and parents each year, the Institute was named in recognition of a generous gift from the Negaunee Foundation in 2014.
Grode is a board member of the West Central Association and a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management program.
An experienced arts executive and educator, Maria Mathieson, is the director of the Peabody Preparatory. As director, she leads the continued growth of Baltimore’s premier community school for the performing arts, overseeing all aspects of operations and instruction for about 2,000 students. Mathieson also worked at Levine Music in Washington, D.C., where she has served as head of music education since 2011.
In addition to developing and leading the overall educational experience for Levine, Mathieson’s background includes teaching and leading music programs as well as managing public relations and fundraising for The Salvation Army in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C. She holds an MBA from the University of Maryland University College and has trained with the Community Arts Education Leadership Institute in New York.
Stanford Thompson is a musician and educator who serves as the Founder and Executive Director of Play On Philly and Founding Board Chairman of El Sistema USA, bringing music education to students in underserved areas throughout Philadelphia and beyond. Recognized as a TED Fellow, Stanford believes that music education is a powerful tool for positive personal and community change. Mr. Thompson serves on the faculty of the Global Leaders Program and regularly presents at major universities and music conservatories about leadership, entrepreneurship and social justice. As a consultant, he has guided the development of dozens of music programs across the United States and collaborated with major orchestras, higher education institutions, and arts organizations to develop new strategies and initiatives that help provide equitable access to the arts. As a professional trumpeter, Stanford has performed as a soloist and member with major orchestras around the world and continues to perform chamber music and jazz. Stanford is a native of Atlanta, GA, a graduate of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Talent Development Program and holds degrees from The Curtis Institute of Music and the New England Conservatory’s Sistema Fellows Program.