History

Project STEP Historical Photo

Rooted in Questioning the Status Quo

Around 1980, members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra community began asking questions about the make-up and future of classical music:

Why are there so few musicians of color in orchestras?
How will classical music continue to attract audience members to its concert halls if it does not include the burgeoning populations of color in the communities that surround its great halls?
What can we do to give access to those students of color with potential in music so they may get the training needed to become participants in this world?

 

Bill Moyer, left, with a Project STEP group

Bill Moyer, right, with a Project STEP group

William Moyer, then-Orchestra Personnel Manager of the BSO, was charged with finding musicians of color to audition for open spots in the orchestra. He crisscrossed the country and could not find any that had the extensive music training required to take these auditions. His conclusion: “If we’re serious about this, we must start a program.” With initial support from the Boston Symphony and others in the Boston area, he helped design and launch Project STEP (String Training Education Program) to provide that comprehensive and long-term training, and a lasting connection to the surrounding community.

Thirty years later, our kids know no limits.

The program opened its doors in 1982 with 7 students, and graduated its first two students in 1988.  Since that time we have introduced 1,500 children to music through our FOCUS on the Public Schools and core programs.  Every Project STEP graduate – 100% – has gone on to college or conservatory.