Five years of Play On, Philly! and a celebration of music education with virtuoso Ray Chen

Violinist Ray Chen. Photo by Sophie Zhai. Play On, Philly! is in the midst of a pretty exciting milestone this year: 2016 represents the five-year anniversary of the group. Play On, Philly!, or POP as it is known, implements educational programs that teach intensive music lessons to children in underserved Philadelphia schools. With support from Knight Foundation, they have been able to spread the power of learning and the joy of music far and wide amongst Philadelphia students and their families.

To mark the organization’s fifth anniversary, some Curtis Institute of Music graduates have come back to spread the word about music education in Philly. Most notably, award-winning violinist Ray Chen has launched a campaign called Musical Heroes in order to celebrate the people and programs who bring the gift of music education to youth, with specific attention paid to former Curtis alumnus and founder Stanford Thompson. Chen has released a video, along with a Generosity campaign, in order to raise funds for POP–and also just to spread the good word about POP students and the difference music is making in their lives.

“I’m a huge believer in the power of music and music education for all young people, not just those who aspire to be musicians when they grow up,” says Chen on his Generosity page. “I know that music education is about far more than learning to play an instrument. It teaches responsibility, discipline, time management and a host of other life-long skills.”

May 2nd kicked off a series of four concerts throughout the month that will celebrate POP’s five year anniversary. These musical performances culminate with the Festival Concert on May 27 at the Temple Performing Arts Center, which will feature collaborations with Commonwealth Youthchoirs, PhillyCAM and Relâche Ensemble. Before then, there will be a studio recital on May 7 and a POP Honors recital on May 15, both at the Curtis Institute of Music.

Join Chen and a slew of other musicians in celebrating music education and its many contributions to students and teachers, both young and old. Play On, Philly! has helped so many in such a short time. Now it’s our opportunity to make sure the music keeps playing.