One day––either in 4th or 5th grade––there was a school-wide assembly at the Pauline A. Shaw Elementary School in Mattapan. None of us students knew why.
We also had no idea that the City of Boston had begun working with Young Audiences Arts for Learning to bring performing artists to public school students across the city. That day, the Shaw hosted a concert by The Boston Folk Trio - Jackie Washington (pictured), Tony Saletan, and Irene Kossoy. The 60’s folk revival was thriving and I had already been listening to the likes of Pete Seeger, The Kingston Trio, and Peter Paul and Mary. Even then, I thought music might make me "cool."
While the group was unknown to me, I had at least heard of Jackie Washington who was a rising star on the local folk circuit.
I don’t remember one song they played. I don’t remember what instruments they played or what they looked like.
But I vividly remember feeling very, very special.
I never imagined that some famous (well, at least quasi-famous and someone I heard of) musicians would come to play for me! At my school! In Mattapan of all places! What a gift this was for kids who may not otherwise have the opportunity to see professional musicians perform live. This unforgettable event planted the seed of my lifelong fascination with how the arts can inspire people and strengthen their sense of community.
Which leads me to the Libertad Artist in Residency.*
Next week, students at Springfield Conservatory of The Arts, Northampton High School, Lander-Grinspoon Academy, and Williams College will host and learn from the Argentinean virtuosos, Cesar Lerner and Marcello Moguilevsky at their schools
Who knows what impact this will have? Some students may find their calling in music, while others chart entirely different paths—accounting, teaching, coding—the options are boundless. What's most important to me is that each person experiences the awe and wonder that I felt all those years ago. I hope all participants come away feeling that they are indeed special and that the arts are for everyone.
Perhaps one of them will even decide that one day they want to create opportunities like this, too.