A free concert celebrating 30 years of mutual aid


Posted on May 1, 2022 at 5:12 a.m. by West Side Rag

Photographs courtesy of Julliard School.

By Steve Holt

On May 14, a group of dedicated music students will come together for a special concert at the Saint-Jean-le-Divin Cathedral. These young musicians will celebrate 30 years of the Music Advancement Program (MAP) at Juilliard.

Every Saturday, MAP helps intermediate and advanced students in the five boroughs and surrounding suburbs hone the skills they’ll need to pursue advanced musical studies and become the next generation of artists, leaders, and global citizens.

MAP deliberately seeks students from diverse backgrounds, which are generally underrepresented in the world of classical music. And he puts his money where he says: every student gets a full scholarship.

Walter Sprott.

Weston Sprott, Dean of Juilliard’s preparatory division, leads the program with Artistic Director Anthony McGill, principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic.

Sprott fell in love with music early on, thanks to the brass-heavy marching bands playing at football games in his hometown of Houston. This led him to take up the trombone (with great success: he is a member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and has performed with other ensembles all over the world). He still remembers his first classical concert: the Houston Symphony performing Mahler’s Third. “This performance clarified my desire to be a professional musician. I listened to this work literally hundreds of times when I was in high school.

But something else about the performance was unsettling.

“At that first concert with the Houston Symphony, my father remarked that there were no black people on stage. More than twenty years later, there are still nights when I am the only black musician in the Metropolitan Opera pit.

MAP was designed to change that.

“MAP is important,” says Sprott, “because it offers students something that all young people deserve – an opportunity to participate in high-level artistic experiences in an assertive, diverse, and well-supported space. Each week, families and students come and pursue their personal and artistic development. It remains for our community – administration, faculty and students – to constantly seek ways to make the MAP experience even deeper and richer. This collective work will never be finished.

The May 14 “MAP: A New World” concert is at 6:30 p.m. at St. John the Divine Cathedral, Amsterdam Ave. at 112th St. Admission is free; no ticket required.


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