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Project Step Students Prepare For First Night Boston

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV
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BOSTON (CBS) – Getting children excited about the beauty, power and possibility of classical music. That’s the goal of Boston’s Project Step. Celebrating its’ 30th anniversary this year, the organization reaches out to young people who might not otherwise have a chance. We met some of the kids as they rehearsed for their First Night performance.

It was a small, group rehearsal in a basement room at Symphony Hall. Just 4 of the 15 young musicians who will play classical and holiday favorites at First Night. “Project Step” identifies musically talented minority students from the Boston area, and works with them from as early as age 5.

“Historically the world of classical music has seen a huge lack of diversity,” says Javier Caballero, Project Step’s Co-Artistic Director. “One of our parents put it very eloquently. She said, ‘I want to see on the concert stage, the diversity I see in my neighborhood, on the street, in the city,” says Caballero. “It’s a great experience. It’s just amazing. If you have these opportunities, you don’t want to pass it up,” says Amir Ali, a violin player in the group. “For me it’s more challenging to play something like Mozart, rather than something by Elvis, let’s say,” says Alex Hernandez, who plays viola.

Comprehensive and rigorous, Project Step’s goal is not only to teach music, but to change lives. “It helped me basically be a musician,” says Rebecca Byrd, a former Project Step kid who now studies music therapy at Howard University. “It gave me an experience to music that I probably never would have gotten,” she says. “Most of our students do go into careers in classical music, whether they’re performing in orchestras, or solo or teaching,” says Javier Caballero.

Though these kids are stage veterans, playing First Night is simply a great gig. “Performing for a big event is just an honor, and it’s just cool,” says Itsva Hernandez, a violin player. “I get to play in front of a lot of people and then afterwards I usually go hang out with my friends at First Night, watch the fireworks and get some hot cocoa,” says Amalia Ali who plays cello. “I just want to make everyone happy with what I play,” says Amir Ali.

You can enjoy the Project Step players at First Night at 1 o’clock at the Hynes Auditorium

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