Founder and Artistic Director, Play On, Philly!
Stanford Thompson is a musician and educator who is passionate about using music for social action and serves as the Founder and Executive Director for the El Sistema-inspired program, Play On, Philly! (POP) and the Chairman of El Sistema USA. He also serves on the boards of the Interlochen Center for the Arts, the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Composers Forum, and as Chairman of The Curtis Institute of Music Alumni Council. He regularly contributes to the communities of TED, League of American Orchestras, and El Sistema-inspired initiatives around the world. For POP, Stanford has secured over $8 million in funding which has impacted the lives of hundreds of children in Philadelphia. Trained as a professional trumpeter, Mr. Thompson has performed with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, Curtis Symphony Orchestra, Lancaster Symphony Orchestra, Symphony in C and recorded on the Ondine label with Christoph Eschenbach. Stanford also appeared as soloist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Ocean City Pops Orchestra and the North Springs Philharmonic. He has lead residencies with Philos Brass in Milford, Pennsylvania and Atlanta, Georgia where they performed recitals and outreach presentations, presented master classes, and conducted clinics. In the jazz idiom, Stan has performed for the Berks Jazz Festival, performed on the Washington College Concert Series and presented for the opening gala of the Philadelphia Orchestra with the Rittenhouse Jazz Quintet. Stanford is a native of Atlanta, GA and holds degrees from The Curtis Institute of Music and the New England Conservatory’s Abreu Fellows Program.
Play On, Philly! (POP) is an innovative education and social initiative that provides opportunities for personal development to children through the study of music. Inspired by the social development and music education program of Venezuela called El Sistema, POP seeks to enrich the lives of Philadelphia youth by providing daily musical instruction in communities that have little access to music education. Established in 2011 at St. Francis de Sales School in West Philadelphia, POP started with 110 youth, ages six to thirteen, with the goal of making a significant and sustaining impact on their lives. In 2012, POP established its second site at Freire Charter Middle School expanding its reach to 250 students. In 2015, POP Academy was launched to serve students in grades 9-12 who participated in POP programming in elementary and middle school, completing our model of engaging students from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Students receive tuition-free daily instrumental group lessons as well as general music, choir and composition. All students participate in both large and small ensembles and master classes with world-class musicians. By expanding gradually, the program is able to stay flexible to curriculum adjustments and responsive to community needs. POP strives to engage the entire community through partnerships, community events, and a season of thirty performances in venues across the Philadelphia region.
Photo: Anna Wu