“When Azira G. Hill, the Cuban-born wife of civil rights activist Jesse Hill, became an American citizen in 1960, she wanted a way to show her appreciation,” writes Muriel Vega in the May issue of Atlanta Magazine. “She began volunteering with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. There, she came to know Mary Gramling, then ASO’s audience development chair, and the two commiserated over how few children of color there were in the Youth Symphony Orchestra…. The Talent Development Program (TDP) was born, and students in grades five through 12—trumpeters, cellists, violinists—were invited to audition…. Now serving 25 students per year, the TDP provides private lessons, audition preparation, solo recitals, and, with the help of Hill’s scholarship fund, financial assistance for students to attend summer music programs. Students also occasionally perform with the Symphony. Since its inception, TDP has helped more than 100 musicians from Atlanta earn spots at universities like Curtis Institute of Music, the Peabody Institute, and the Juilliard School. Among them is cellist Khari Joyner…. Following his time at Juilliard, Joyner, now 27, has continued to tour and teach … releasing his first solo album this summer.”

Posted May 13, 2019

In photo: Azira G. Hill and Mary Gramling, founders of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Talent Development Program for young musicians of color. Photo by Stephanie Eley