At a ceremony at the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama will present representatives from the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO) with the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award—the nation’s highest honor for out-of-school arts and humanities programs. Only 12 awards are given each year out of a field of 350 nominations and 50 finalists, and only 2 programs from Wisconsin have received the award since 1998. The award is given to programs that celebrate the creativity of America’s young people, particularly those from underserved communities.
“These outstanding programs are expanding horizons, changing lives, and helping young people fulfill their dreams—across America and around the world,” said First Lady Michelle Obama, Honorary Chairman of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. “Each of these programs is using achievement in the arts and humanities as a bridge to achievement in life.”
MYSO provides nine Community Partnership Programs to a diverse population of young people within the Greater Milwaukee area. The Community Partnership Programs consist of Progressions, Jazz Studies, Calypso and Soca, Prelude Orchestra, String Orchestra Central, MYSO Scholars, an extensive Community Concert Series, and partnerships with the Boys & Girls Clubs and the Latino Arts Strings Program. All nine Community Partnership Programs focus on developing the musical abilities and critical thinking skills of youth participants.
“The collective impact of these initiatives is now recognized and honored by the President’s Committee on the Arts & the Humanities with its National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award as a national leader and innovator,” stated Linda Edelstein, Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra’s Executive Director. “We are deeply grateful for this award and the privilege of being a part of this esteemed group of honorees. This award is a testament to our success in being instrumental in changing the lives of hundreds of young people in our community.”
The National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award
Programs that receive the award exemplify how arts and humanities programs outside of the regular school day enrich the lives of young people throughout the country by teaching new skills, nurturing creativity, and building self-confidence. These programs offer high-quality and intensive instruction on weekends, afternoons, and summer vacations, providing a safe and productive space for young people in the hours when they are often the most vulnerable.
MYSO empowers young people from diverse backgrounds to joyfully pursue musical excellence while building crucial life skills. In 2015-16, the organization celebrates its 60th Anniversary season and its first time being awarded the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, the country’s highest honor for youth arts programs, presented by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. MYSO has been a finalist for the award six times.
Recognized regionally, nationally and internationally for its artistic excellence, MYSO is one of the most successful and respected youth orchestra programs in the nation. With 1,000 young musicians ages 8-18 from as many as 215 schools, 60 communities and 14 counties throughout southeastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois participating in MYSO’s many ensemble training programs, it has become one of the largest organizations of its kind in the United States. The organization also impacts 5,000 children annually through its extensive Community Concert Series, and more than 18,000 collective audience members each year. Employing more than 50 of the region’s finest music educators and teaching artists to implement its life-changing programming, MYSO also directly impacts hundreds of private music instructors and school music programs throughout the area.