By: Renee Grant

Music is in the heart of the City of Brotherly Love. We are truly a town that thrives on sound, hosting incredible concerts, boasting well-loved music venues, and playing home to many programs designed to keep new generations of Philly kids immersed in the arts. In that spirit, Play On! Philly was born.

Founded by Stanford Thompson, a local musician and educator, the program aims to provide opportunities for personal development to children through the study of music. In 2009, he discovered an online TED Talk by Jose Antonio Abreu, the founder of the El Sistema music education philosophy in Venezuela.

That talk inspired Thompson to create a similar program here in Philadelphia, which is the Play On! Philly (POP) program, now serving 250 children who each receive 600 hours of music training and perform 30 concerts a year.

Now that the 2017 TED Talks Fellows have been announced, it’s great to see that Thompson applied and was accepted to program’s incoming class. While the program doesn’t provide financial compensation, fellows enjoy a global support network of cutting-edge thought leaders and entrepreneurs, and an international platform for sharing their ideas.

Thompson will take to that stage to give his influential talk in April of this year in Vancouver.

On his website, he says of the experience, “Taking the TED stage in the company of this stellar group of innovators will be a high point in my career. I’ve seen first hand that society thrives when artists prioritize the needs of their communities. I am excited to share how music is a way to create harmony and opportunity particularly in underserved populations.”

It’s great to know someone from the home of the The Sound of Philadelphia will be representing our area, and keeping the music alive, in such an impactful way.


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