Michael Tilson Thomas - Project 440's Essential Role in Music

By Michael Tilson Thomas

Michael Tilson Thomas working with Joseph Conyers and the All-City Orchestra.

Michael Tilson Thomas working with Joseph Conyers and the All-City Orchestra.

It is a pleasure to write these words of appreciation about Project 440.

Project 440 takes its name from the frequency of the note “A” to which orchestras tune. 

Orchestras have been in existence for some four hundred years and have brought both performers and listeners together in ways that defined and re-imagined the spirit of their times and passed it on to the future. Such is the case of Project 440 which gives young people the opportunity to learn essential life, leadership, and entrepreneurial skills through the shared medium of music. Some of them will become musicians. All of them will have an understanding of the language of music and the desire to share its caring message with others in creative new ways. 

There are two essential moments in the life of an artist and of an artistic organization. One is inventing yourself. The other is going the distance. Project 440 has done both. Since 2010, under the leadership of Joseph Conyers, it has created and sustained an educational and artistic partnership with all of Philadelphia sharing music educational opportunities into all communities, partnering with its school system, and encouraging young people to become effective partisans of music and the rich cultural heritage it expresses.

Joseph Conyers has a wonderful way of connecting people. His experience as a principal player in the Philadelphia Orchestra and his awareness of the many cultures of young people right at this moment give him a can-do spirit that is inspiring to young people and seasoned professionals. The faces of the Project 440 participants glow with the devotion that Joseph Conyers and his team bring to this project.