Hilary Hahn Donates her $25,000 Glashütte Original Festspielpreis to Project 440

Philadelphia nonprofit selected by Hahn because of their unique education work

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Pictured: Hilary Hahn (left, photo credit: Michael Patrick O'Leary), Joseph Conyers with Project 440 students (right, photo credit: Al B For photography)

World-renowned violinist Hilary Hahn has selected the Philadelphia-based nonprofit Project 440 as the recipient of a $25,000 gift stemming from the prize money she received as part of the Glashütte Original Festspielpreis five years ago. Hahn was selected due to her achievements in encouraging young musicians and promoting classical music education.

The award comes with the stipulation that the accompanying $25,000 grant be donated to a music-education initiative of the awardee’s choice. Hahn chose Project 440 as the sole recipient because of their view of music as a stepping stone to teaching high schoolers to actively impact their world on their own terms and practice essential skills for their lives beyond the school system.

“Hilary Hahn is a role model for many young musicians,” says Jan Vogler, Director of the Dresden Music Festival, who presented the award. “Her creativity and determination in pursuing her career as well as her talent in communicating her musical life to her audiences inspire the classical music world. The Dresden Music Festival was proud to award her the ‘Glashütte Original Festspielpreis’ 2014 and is looking forward to welcoming her back to the festival in the future.”

Project 440 is a Philadelphia based non-profit organization. Rather than focusing on performance and musical achievement, Project 440’s unique programs draw on a shared love of music to help young people build essential life skills. They offer two free after-school programs to high school students in Philadelphia, Doing Good and Instruments for Success, and host an annual College Fair for Musicians.

Hahn has had close ties to Philadelphia since her violin studies brought her to the city in 1990. She made her orchestral soloist debut with the Concerto Soloists Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia in 1991, at the age of 11; as part of that engagement, she played her first outreach concerts in the Philadelphia public schools. She made her debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra at age 14, and at 16, she returned to them as soloist for her Carnegie Hall debut. She continued to live in the city until 2004 and returned regularly thereafter, including as Artist-in-Residence with the Philadelphia Orchestra in the 2017-18 season.

“Project 440 serves a crucial purpose within the arts world,” says Hahn. “They reach across a broad socio-economic spectrum to high school students, helping them to take leadership roles in their communities and rehearsing life skills within the shared language of music. Many organizations are doing great work around personal leadership, but the way Project 440 goes about it is different from anything I’ve seen. I believe that music can be a starting point for so many kinds of conversations. Musical study has parallels across multiple disciplines: daily practice, self-guided development, the translation of history into the present day, empathy, communication, and collaboration. To harness that shared basis into a sense of purpose in the wider world not only helps music, it helps the world. Project 440 is poised to implement their projects on a larger scale, and I hope this grant will help them to reach their goals for the 2019-20 school year. They are a small organization with a big impact. Between their mission, passion, achievements, organizational efficiency, reach, and potential, they are the complete package. I’m excited to see what’s ahead!”

Joseph Conyers, Project 440 Founder and Executive Director, shared the following:

“Hilary Hahn is an artist of the highest caliber and international repute. I’ve been in awe of her playing since her debut album of Bach as a teenager — a recording that remains one of the finest I know. I am a long-time admirer of Hilary’s artistry and musicianship. Even with such accolades, Hilary has gone above and beyond to make herself accessible — using her gifts to inspire countless aspiring young musicians, music lovers, and enthusiasts worldwide through unique collaborations, the championing of new music, and superstar status as an influencer on social media. Using music as a tool to encourage and empower young people is at the core of our work at Project 440. We are thrilled that Hilary has identified Project 440 as the recipient of the funds from her prestigious Glashütte Award. We are thankful for Hilary’s belief in our programs, and we are further encouraged to do all we can — through music — to teach the life skills needed for individual growth and community impact to as many young people as possible.”



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. Project 440 refers to the 440Hz "tuning A" of an orchestra. Just as the oboe leads an orchestra with the 440 Hz pitch, Project 440 students are learning to be 21st Century leaders. For more information on Project 440, visit


Three-time Grammy Award-winning violinist Hilary Hahn is renowned for her clear and brilliant musicality, expansive interpretations, and organic connections with her audience. Since beginning her recording career in 1997, she has released 20 feature albums on Sony, Deutsche Grammophon, and Decca. Hahn begins a year-long sabbatical in September after a busy 2018-19 season, in which she completed her solo Bach cycle with a long-awaited recording of Partita No. 1 and Sonatas 1 & 2; embarked on a worldwide solo Bach recital tour; released the world premiere recording of her solo commission of Antón García Abril’s 6 Partitas; and launched the print edition of the sheet music for her large-scale commissioning project In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores, featuring her own fingerings, bowings, and performance notes.

Hahn is active on social media and has a large global audience that spans all ages. She is the originator of #100daysofpractice, an Instagram-based practice initiative, and has completed three sequences of the project. Fellow musicians and students have joined in with their own 100 days, adding up to more than 200,000 posts under the hashtag. The project has inspired viewers and participants to embrace the practice process as a positive, creative, and social aspect of artistic development rather than an isolating and frustrating chore. Hahn’s three sets of #100daysofpractice can be found on her feed @violincase.  

For more information and to read her extensive archive of writings from the road, visit

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Historic $25,000 Challenge Grant Generously Pledged by John McFadden Esq. and Lisa D. Kabnick Esq.


Project 440’s fiscal year-end campaign is halfway completed, and we are honored to announce the support of John McFadden Esq. and Lisa D. Kabnick Esq.! The couple has pledged to match up to $25,000 of donations received during the month of August. McFadden, who sits on the Philadelphia Orchestra Association, Curtis Institute of Music, and other boards stated: “We are proud to support Project 440 in its vision for using music as a tool to support young people in Philadelphia.”

John is a founder and partner at McFadden, Pilkington, & Ward LLC, an international law firm. He currently lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Lisa D. Kabnick, Esq., a senior advisor at Pepper Hamilton LLP and vice chair of the board of Philadelphia Media Network. John earned degrees from Harvard University (BA), Columbia University (MBA), and Fordham University (JD). He has a strong connection with the arts as he serves on multiple boards mentioned above, including the Barnes Foundation. McFadden also serves on the board of the Philadelphia Media Network.

John’s passion for the arts can be traced back to a special concert performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He said that this was a “Road to Damascus” moment that changed his life and inspired him to support artistic organizations. Not only does he share a strong value for the arts, but he strongly believes in supporting young artists and the organizations that serve them.

We can not thank John and Lisa enough for their support of Project 440. We are proud to have their backing as we continue to provide the young people of Philadelphia with the skills and tools they need to succeed. artists. Join us in making an impact by donating here.


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.


Project 440 Receives Support from Marple Newtown High School Tri-M Music Honor Society


On May 7th, 2019, the Marple Newtown High School held their induction ceremony for the newest chapter of the Tri-M Music Honor Society. During this celebration, they announced that they donated $1,100 to Project 440 in support of our programs and the work we do for the communities in Philadelphia. The support of a group of hard-working and generous young people is one of our greatest motivators, and we are excited to continue working for the young people of Philadelphia.

The Tri-M Music Honor Society students recently completed a service project in which they raised $1,100 to donate to an organization they believed in. During one of their meetings, Jake Olimpi (Advisor of Tri-M) mentioned Project 440 and explained our mission and programs. Olimpi said this about the students’ reactions, “Their eyes lit up. Applying skills learned through music to the real world is something we strive to teach here at Marple Newtown so it only made sense to contribute to a program that helped students so close to our school.”

As our programs begin to wrap-up and we congratulate our graduating seniors, we want to also thank and congratulate the students of Marple Newtown’s Tri-M Society on a successful service project and a generous donation. We hope to continue to inspire these students and can’t wait to see what they accomplish in their futures!


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Project 440 Donor Spotlight: Peter "Tad" LeVan


Meet Tad LeVan, Donor and Project 440 Board President! Tad is the man behind the scenes, ensuring that our Board is running like a smooth oiled machine. Our interview highlights what drives Tad to give so much to our organization and the important role music has and continues to play in his life.

Q: How did you get to know Project 440?
Back in 2014, my daughter Elena was being inducted in the Tri-M Music Honor Society at Washington Township High School in New Jersey. Joseph Conyers, Project 440’s Executive Director, gave the keynote address at the ceremony.  I was blown away by Joseph’s passion, motivation and vision for using music as a tool to teach important career and life-skills to high school students.  I walked right up to him after the ceremony ended and offered to help any way I could!

Q: What inspired you give to Project 440 as a donor and as a working Board member in your current capacity?
Music has always been an important part of my life.  I was completely taken with the idea of using music to develop educational, entrepreneurial and community-engaging programs to provide direction, assistance and professional advancement to young people.  And, of course, you cannot speak of inspiration without recognizing Joseph himself: His joy, passion and excitement for Project 440 is contagious. It’s impossible to hear Joseph speak and not want to be part of his vision to change the world for the better.  So right from the start I was excited to support Project 440, both financially and by serving on the Board.

Q: Why do you think our work is important?
Our country’s public secondary education system primarily focuses on providing students with substantive knowledge in particular subject-matter areas.  Even in well-administered and fiscally solvent districts, secondary schools rarely provide opportunities for students to develop the entrepreneurial and community-engaging skill sets that are so necessary to thrive in today’s world.  Project 440 fills that gap and provides important service and support in those critical skill areas. As our mission aptly states: “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.”

Q: What is your personal connection to music?
I have happily been involved with music my entire life.  When I was younger, I played piano and trombone, and also performed in several professional musical theater productions.  Even after becoming a trial attorney, music has remained a critically important part of my life. Over the years, I have sung with numerous choral groups, including the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, Choral Arts of Philadelphia, and most recently Choral Arts of Southern New Jersey.  In addition, within the past few years I have returned to the stage in musical theater productions after a 30-year hiatus. I have always loved performing in front of an audience but I now have the added benefit of causing great embarrassment to my children! I consider that a win-win.  

Q: How did the skills you developed through your musical involvement/activities help in your career or inform your work approach?
Needless to say, there are numerous similarities between performing onstage and being a trial attorney.   Skills in public speaking, story-telling, and relating to an audience – to name just a few – easily transferred to my professional life and provided a solid foundation upon which to build.  But just as importantly, my early involvement in music taught me how to work within an ensemble, showed me the importance of consistently practicing your craft, and helped me develop the necessary grit to persevere through challenging situations that inevitably arise in any professional setting.  

Music is magical:  It has been a constant pillar in my life and will undoubtedly continue to play a central role in my years to come.  I am immensely grateful to have the opportunity to work with Project 440 and share the power of music with the next generation.

Photo from Tad performing.

Photo from Tad performing.


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

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.

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.


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