If serving and nourishing children in the Philadelphia area – beyond juice boxes and PB&J – is your thing, sister organizations Musicopia and Dancing Classrooms Philly, should earn your attention and your giving dollars. This Sunday, December 6, these twin sister area arts education nonprofits welcome Black Violin as its special guests (at 3:30 PM) for the Musicopia/Dancing Classrooms Philly, 2020 (virtual) High Note High Step Fundraising Event. Visit HERE to register for the event.
“Musicopia and Dancing Classrooms Philly are sisters with related missions: to share the transformative power of arts education with all children, regardless of circumstance,” said their Executive Director, Catherine Charlton. “Serving over 20,000 students per year, targeting under-resourced schools throughout the Philadelphia region, Musicopia and Dancing Classrooms Philly provide music and dance programs that foster creativity, mutual respect, perseverance, self-esteem, and joy.”
As for Black Violin, the newly Grammy-nominated duo (for best Contemporary Instrumental Album) of classically trained violist and violinist Wil Baptiste and Kev Marcus, theirs is the hothouse mash-up of classical and hip-hop that has, in the past, sold-out top tier Philly gigs at the Annenberg Center, Merriam Theater and the Academy of Music.
“Wil and Kev place heavy emphasis on educational outreach, performing for more than 100,000 students each year,” added Charlton. “Plus, together, they challenge the stereotypes and preconceived notions of what a “classical musician” look and sound like.”
In addition to musical smarts, Black Violin has a sense of ownership and proximity to their music that more musicians should embrace. “Over our 18-year career, we have been offered multiple ‘elevators’ to success,” Kev Marcus of Black Violin in an email. “But, we chose what some see as the tougher road; the one that granted us the most creative freedom along with ownership of our masters and our brand; so we took the stairs.”
Musicopia’s Executive Director went on to say that she is personally a huge fan of and, as a pianist and composer on the Board of Governors of the Philly chapter of the Recording Academy, voted for Black Violin’s album in the Grammy stakes.
“I was beyond excited to see them on the ballot; their music and the way they combine their message of social unity and hope is something I find inspiring as a leader of a nonprofit and personally as a musician. Last year I got to take a group of our string orchestra students to hear Black Violin at the Academy of Music- it was amazing to see their excitement and eyes open up and joy at seeing musicians of color playing classical string instruments so beautifully and energetically merging their technique and artistry with hip-hop music. The energy of the packed audience was completely electric. Black Violin spoke from the stage directly to the kids listening, telling them to follow their dreams. I can only hope that the kids we serve can find inspiration not only in Black Violin but artists around them- artists who are speaking with conviction and from the heart, telling their stories. I hope that our music and dance programs will help the next generation of kids in Philly learn how to tell their own stories and write their own narratives.”
Plus Black Violin just released their debut holiday album, “Give Thanks,” and a new video for “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”