Joseph Conyers, Project 440 Founder and Executive Director, honored by Sphinx Organization

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The Sphinx Organization, the social justice organization dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts, has announced the 2019 recipients of the Sphinx Medals of Excellence. Project 440 Founder and Executive Director Joseph H. Conyers is among the recipients of this prestigious award. The other recpients are Raquel González and Will Liverman.

Click here to download the full press release.

Sphinx annually honors three emerging Black or Latinx classical musicians with the Sphinx Medal of Excellence. Through a national nomination process, Sphinx identifies musicians early in their professional career who demonstrate the following qualities: artistic excellence, outstanding work ethic, a spirit of determination and ongoing commitment to leadership. The recipients each receive a $50,000 career grant, bestowed in Washington D.C. at a private luncheon hosted by The Kennedy Center and the Aspen Institute, and celebrated at a black-tie gala. The eighth annual Sphinx Medals of Excellence celebration will take place on March 20, 2019.

Sphinx President Afa S. Dworkin shared, “It is an honor and privilege to celebrate three outstanding artists of color in our nation’s capital. In the midst of a divisive climate, music truly unites us all. The incredible recipients of theSphinx Medal of Excellence are sources of light and inspiration in the classical music field and in our communities at large, and I cannot wait to see what each of them will accomplish.”

About Joseph H. Conyers: Double bassist Joseph H. Conyers was appointed assistant principal bassist of The Philadelphia Orchestra in 2010 after tenures with the Atlanta Symphony, Santa Fe Opera, and Grand Rapids Symphony where he served as principal bass. A formidable advocate for music education, he is executive director of Project 440, an organization that engages, educates, and inspires young musicians, providing them with the career and life skills they need to develop into tomorrow's civic-minded, entrepreneurial leaders.

A Project 440 Alum Returns: A Reflection from Hannah Silverberg

 
 
 Hannah at a Project 440 event in June.

Hannah at a Project 440 event in June.

 
 
 Hannah playing flute at a Project 440/Philadelphia International Music Festival community performance.

Hannah playing flute at a Project 440/Philadelphia International Music Festival community performance.

Hannah is a rising sophomore at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. She is also an alumna of both All City Orchestra and Project 440! It was such a treat to have her with us this summer and we are so impressed by the leadership that she showed as our Program Intern. Read more about her experience below!

 

Q: What made you decide to intern with Project 440?
During my last years of high school, I gained valuable information from the workshops available to me as well as the amazing opportunity of being a fellow in the Project 440 fellowship program. I knew that I was so lucky to have this experience, and since I wanted to give back and help others the way I was helped, I saw this internship as the perfect medium. It provided me with a way to help aspiring musicians as well as learn a new hands-on experiences that could not be gained from conservatory education alone. 

Q: What are the key things you learned from the internship?
One big thing that I learned is that in working for an organization that is dedicated to doing good, no job, no matter how small, is insignificant. The word ‘intern’ sometimes comes with the connotation of repetitive and less exciting work, but in the end, the work that gets done affects everyone in the organization positively and is of service to the students we are dedicated to helping. I learned that, just as every cog is important in the functioning of a machine, it was important and motivating to me to step back and look at the big picture of how Project 440 operates and helps. The biggest insight that I was able take away from the internship was learning that when you are working with the right people in the right organization, that has a mission you believe in, and everyone’s heart is in the right place –– then you are willing to do the best job you can, and go above and beyond, which makes the outcome even more rewarding! 

Q: What aspects of the internship did you enjoy the most?
I really enjoyed being able to see an organization from both sides –– from the perspective of the providers of our services and from the perspective of those we have served. Since I was a student in high school receiving information from the organization, I was excited to intern with Project 440 because I knew of all the benefits this organization can provide to aspiring musicians and I knew the tools for success that were offered. Everyone who is involved with Project 440 truly believes in the good of the organization and the good works of the organization, which inspired me everyday to work my hardest. The Project 440 team may be small, but together, provide experiences that can change a life.

From the Classroom to Practice: A Reflection from Zoë Yeshayahu

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Zoë is a rising senior at DePauw University, where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Musical Arts with an emphasis in business. This summer, Project 440 was lucky enough to have Zoë join us as an Administrative Intern! Below she shares some reflections on her time with the organization. 

We at Project 440 would like to thank Zoë for all of her hard work! We'll definitely miss having her as a part of the team.

Q: What made you decide to intern with Project 440?
A: Last summer when I worked for a small nonprofit group, I learned that going into this summer I wanted to continue working with small organizations that seek to include and mentor aspiring youth. Project 440 seemed like the perfect fit! What attracted me the most was Project 440's mission statement:
“Project 440 engages, educates and inspires young musicians, providing them with the career and life skills they need to develop into tomorrow's civic-minded, entrepreneurial leaders.” 
I felt that the mission statement fits in well with what I love the most about nonprofit work - helping and inspiring young musicians to keep chasing their dreams of being a musician.

Q: What aspects of this internship surprised you the most?
A: What surprised me was that Sam [the Managing Director] always kept me on my toes. No two days were the same, which was great! Every day I was faced with challenges that pushed my learning and implementing of new skills, such as forcing myself to think outside of the box. The experience was the best surprise I could have asked for. Having this internship allowed me to not only grow in the nonprofit world but also grow as a young adult. 

Q: What aspects of the internship did you enjoy the most?
A: At Project 440,  I was finally able to engage in real-world experiences, putting into practice what I’ve learned in the courses I’ve taken at DePauw. I engaged and was exposed to marketing, finance, handling of different projects, board meetings, and production making, and I also assisted with research and grant applications. Pushing my undergrad education beyond textbook understandings was irreplaceable. A nonprofit internship with Project 440 gave me the opportunity to become engaged in real-world, day-to-day work dedicated to people and music.  

 Interns Hannah Silverberg (left) and Zoe Yeshayahu (right) at a Project 440 event.

Interns Hannah Silverberg (left) and Zoe Yeshayahu (right) at a Project 440 event.

Q: What are the key things you learned from the internship?
A: An intern’s role changes quickly so be prepared to:

  • Never expect every day to go as planned
  • Push yourself  to think outside the box 
  • Be creative in unexpected ways

Hone and take advanced classes in:

  • Video production
  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • iMovie

Q: What are some of your goals for the future?
A: I am going to graduate school to learn and expand my knowledge in Arts Administration. Hopefully, after graduate school, I would be working with a small nonprofit organization and working my way up to lead a nonprofit that will help young musicians grow as artist and entrepreneurs.

Project 440 isn't saying "Goodbye" we are saying "Have fun on your next adventure Leonard!"

 On June 7th we said goodbye to our amazing intern Leonard. He will be working with the Philadelphia Orchestra for the rest of the summer! 

On June 7th we said goodbye to our amazing intern Leonard. He will be working with the Philadelphia Orchestra for the rest of the summer! 

Leonard's Personal Statment

Q: What aspects of this internship surprised you the most?

A: What surprised me the most from my time at Project 440 was how much work can get done with so few people working for the organization. The team of Project 440 may be small, but the things they can get done are truly remarkable. When I was a senior in high school, I remember Project 440 offering a number of workshops for All City musicians. Back then, I thought Project 440 must have been a fairly large organization to be able to offer so many workshops for high school students. Little did I know that all of those workshop were planned and put into fruition by as little as one or two people. I learned that the efforts of a few good people can positively change the lives of a disproportionately large amount of students, and I will never forget that.

Q: What aspects of the internship did you enjoy the most?

A: One of my favorite parts of the internship was being able to see all of the work I did for Project 440 pay off. There were a couple projects which I had been working on for many months and to see them finally completed is the greatest feeling. Some intern work can get fairly tedious, but when it is all finished, that feeling of accomplishment is worth it. Another great aspect of the work was all of the influential people I got to meet and work with over the past seven months. Each person has individual wisdoms which they are happy to pass down and I hope I was able to give my part as well. There is no equivalent to the relationships I have made through Project 440.

Q: What are the key things you learned from the internship?

A: The most important thing I learned is what I previously mentioned: That the efforts of a few good people can positively change the lives of a disproportionately large amount of students. However, that is not all I learned from my time at Project 440. I learned that a laptop is really all you need to manage a successful organization. I learned that real world experience is much more educational than classroom lectures. I learned that it helps to know people, especially in the arts. Lastly, I learned that it is okay to ask questions if you need help. As an intern, you are not expected to know all the answers right from the get go and I was able to grow from this position because I didn’t know everything. With guidance, I have improved in many areas, including writing, communication, and innovative decision making, all because I was not afraid to ask for help.  

 

 

Its graduation season and we're so proud of our Doing Good graduates!

     

 

 

June 7th was a big event for the young musicians you see pictured above. They have officially graduated from our new flagship program, Doing Good!

Doing Good is a 30-week intense after-school program that teaches high school music students the basics of social entrepreneurship and community engagement. This program is broken up into two semesters. The first semester the students get to learn the “ins and outs” of social entrepreneurship, leadership, and community engagement. During the second semester, they get to put their skills to the test by creating and executing their projects.

Want to read more about Doing Good? Here's a link!

 

This year's project were: 

Teens with Ambition

Imani Sanders-Rasul

Aj’ee Robinson

Open Genre Music Book

Joseph Trachtman

Oleksandr Kashlyuk

Percy Weaver

Generation Music

Claire Casanova

Chloe Cooper

Center City Chamber Orchestra

Marquise Bradley

Dacey Hiester

Jeramie Miller

A special thank you to our two amazing teaching artists Susanna Loewy and Michael O’Bryan!

 

Everyone is so talented in this program, and it was really nice to be in the same room as other musicians who cared as much as I do.
— Imani Sanders-Rasul
The Doing Good program has allowed me to see how far you can take music without actually playing your instrument and its also has helped me learned leadership skills that I wouldn’t have learned in school.
— Marquise Bradly
Project 440 gave me the opportunity to experience what teaching students would be like, and has helped me decide that I do want to go into music education.
— Claire Casanova