By Steve Holt
On May 14th, a group of dedicated music students will come together for a special concert at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. These young musicians will be celebrating 30 years of the Music Advancement Program (MAP) at Juilliard.
Every Saturday, MAP helps intermediate and advanced students from the five boroughs and nearby suburbs polish the skills they’ll need to pursue advanced musical studies, and become the next generation of artists, leaders, and global citizens.
MAP deliberately seeks students from diverse backgrounds, not usually represented in the world of classical music. And it puts its money where its mouth is: every student gets a full-tuition scholarship.
Weston Sprott, the Dean of Juilliard’s Preparatory Division, leads the program along with artistic director Anthony McGill, the Principal Clarinet with the New York Philharmonic.
Sprott fell in love with music early, thanks to the brass-heavy marching bands playing at football games in Houston, his hometown. That led him to take up the trombone (quite successfully: he’s a member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and has performed with other ensembles all over the world). He still recalls his first classical concert: The Houston Symphony performing Mahler’s Third. “That performance clarified my desire to be a professional musician. I listened to that work literally hundreds of times as a high school student.”
But something else about the performance was troubling.
“At that first concert with the Houston Symphony, my father remarked that there were no Black people on the stage. Twenty plus years later, there are still nights when I’m the only Black musician in the pit at the Metropolitan Opera.”
MAP was designed to change that.
“MAP is important,” says Sprott, “because it provides students with something that all young people deserve—an opportunity to participate in high-level artistic experiences in a space that is affirming, diverse, and well-supported. Every week, families and students show up and continue to pursue their personal and artistic growth. What remains is for our community—administration, faculty, and students—to constantly pursue ways of making the MAP experience even deeper and richer. That collective work will never be finished.”
The May 14th concert “MAP: A New World” is at 6:30pm at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Amsterdam Ave. at 112th St. Admission is free; no tickets required.