“The Asheville Symphony Orchestra is being given $610,000—the largest single donation in its 54-year history—to create an after-school, music-based program,” writes Tony Kiss in Tuesday’s (2/25) Citizen-Times (Asheville, North Carolina). “The gift, from Tom and Julie Leever, of Hendersonville, and their family Leever Foundation will build the new MusicWorks! program at Hall Fletcher Elementary school. Initially, 50 kindergarten students will participate, but the idea is to carry the program through their public school education.… Some 79 percent of Hall Fletcher’s students come from financially challenged families and qualify for a free or reduced-cost lunch, [school principal Gordon Grant] said. The Leevers’ gift will hire will hire a full-time director and teaching artists. It will help purchase materials, including musical instruments, for students who cannot afford them.… The program will begin this fall…. The Leevers were inspired by the El Sistema music program in Caracas, Venezuela. After seeing a report on TV’s ‘60 Minutes,’ the Leevers funded a similar program in Waterbury, Conn.… Tom Leever said that each year the program will add another school grade and eventually reach into high school.” Click here to read Symphony magazine’s June 2013 report on El Sistema-inspired programs at U.S. orchestras.

Posted February 27, 2014