by Ron Oshima
For decades, Margarete Harvey has been a source of leadership and support for the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO), having served two nine-year terms on the board. She was introduced to MYSO when her daughter Matthea joined MYSO as a flute player in the mid-1980s.
Each year, Margarete and her husband David present the Margarete Harvey scholarships, given to MYSO students in their junior or senior year of high school, who started out in our entry-level Progressions* program as third graders and stayed with MYSO. It’s a recognition of the students’ hard work and perseverance in their journey through MYSO, and a reflection of the value the Harveys place on education and determination.
What would you tell potential donors about MYSO?
“When I first encountered MYSO, it was a very well-run organization, and it still is today,” says Margarete. “I would also tell them about the Progressions* program, because it institutionalizes diversity at MYSO. Many organizations talk about diversity, but at MYSO, it’s on firm footing.”
How did Progressions start?
“It was under Fran Richman’s (former executive director of MYSO) guidance that we started Progressions and expanded it as soon as we had more space after the completion of the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center (MYAC). We said we wanted to have kids from Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) when arts program budgets were being cut. We wanted to increase diversity. The only way we could do it was by teaching the kids ourselves, because if they were dependent on private lessons and on their school in MPS, they may never be able to audition into MYSO.”
What else do you support at MYSO?
“We’re also interested in the international touring program,” says Margarete. “I find any trip exciting. As a kid, I was marooned on a farm in northern Germany. I dreamed of traveling all the time. I want to give other kids the chance to travel that I did not have.”
“I think we’re both interested in education,” says David. “I love to see the kids, and I’m more interested in talking to them about what they’re going to do or be. It could be music, or it could be biochemistry. “
David adds, “I was a working-class kid in England. Margarete was a farmer’s daughter. We didn’t come from money, but we were lucky. We got scholarships, we got through, and we did okay. This is our way of giving back.”
* Progressions is an immersive string training program, which provides private instruction and orchestral training in violin, viola, cello, and bass to third and fourth grade students who have limited musical experience and live in or attend a school in the City of Milwaukee.