Provide Music Classes for Students in Harlem

by Opus 118 Harlem School of Music
Students at last year
Students at last year's End-of-the-Year Concert

Opus 118 Harlem School of Music students are working harder than ever in preparation for two concerts coming up next month.  A year's worth of hard work will pay off, first, in an Honors Concert on Sunday, June 5th at 1pm at Studio Museum in Harlem as part of the museum's Target Free Sundays. Our most advanced violin students will take the stage performing solos, duets, and exciting ensemble numbers.

Then, on Friday, June 17th at 6:30pm at The American Academy of Arts and Letters, Opus 118's In-School Program will wrap up its year with a special End-of-the-Year concert. This annual concert gives all of our In-School students from three Harlem public elementary schools the chance to show what they have learned all year long. It is always quite moving to see over 100 students on stage, filling the concert hall with beautiful music.

If you are in the New York City area either Sunday, June 5th or Friday, June 17th, we invite you to attend these incredible concerts. Both are free and open to the public.

Students at Opus 118 Harlem School of Music had a busy, yet impressive summer and fall semester.  They wrapped up another great year last June at a superb End-of-the-Year Concert at the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Then through the summer, they kept the music playing by getting involved in their community. Opus students played for such Harlem events as the Children’s Youth Festival during Harlem Week, the grand opening of Bob’s Discount Furniture in East Harlem, and an outreach event at Columbia Medical Center. They were even asked by Vogue magazine to represent Harlem in their famous September issue. They posed with musicians Mark Ronson and Amanda Warner, a.k.a. MNDR for the magazine’s “Fashion’s Night Out” spread.  

The performing opportunities did not stop when school started. In October, our kids got out their suits and fancy dresses for the Louis 649 Sixth Anniversary Gala. Louis 649 is a hip, downtown jazz and cocktail lounge owned by Zachary Sharaga, who generously donated all of the Gala’s proceeds to Opus 118, in addition to 10 violins from Yamaha!

Just a few weeks later, our performers opened for Grammy award-winning artist John Legend at the Bloomingdale’s Holiday Window Unveiling. What a treat to play for such a great artist and performer!

Opus 118 is looking forward to making 2011 the best year yet. Our current In-School and After-School Programs are changing lives every day, and we are expanding our Early Childhood Music Program which serves the underserved preschoolers in Harlem’s Head Start Programs.

We invite you to visit our website, , where you can keep up to date on news and events, and where you can join our e-mail list to receive information about future concerts and performances.

Thank you for taking the time to read about Opus 118 Harlem School of Music.

End-of-the-Year Concert
End-of-the-Year Concert

Opus 118 students are enjoying their much-deserved summer break after accomplishing so much this year. The students have made the Opus family so proud of what they've done in only a few months! But, just because its summertime doesn't mean our children have stopped practicing their music. Right now, several of our students are enrolled in an Improvisation Workshop which teaches music theory and composition. This gives the students an opportunity to further develop their musicianship by improving elements outside of their repertoire.

The students have had some amazing performance opportunities we would love to share with you. During the El Museo del Barrio Honor’s Recital, Grammy award-winning musician Mark O' Connor and accomplished jazz violinist Diane Monroe performed with the students to make it an unforgettable night. Also, international urban rock duo Nuttin' But Stringz wowed the audience with a powerful performance and spent time with the students after the show.

Jesi Kelley, parent of one of our students had this to say about the Nuttin' But Stringz performance:

"It's so important for kids to see that practice and hard work brings real rewards—whether music is something they see as a profession or a personal pleasure. It's important for kids to know that studying music can provide all kinds opportunities. "

We also launched a Concert Campaign, which has successfully allowed the students to play in their annual End-of-the-Year Concert. The support was incredible, giving the students a platform to showcase all they've learned throughout the year. At the end of the concert members of the Opus 118 alumni gave a speech, congratulating co-founder Roberta Guaspari for 30 years of service to the public schools of East Harlem. It was truly a special night for everyone.

As you can see, we've challenged our students with some extraordinary performance opportunities. But like always, they remained calm, composed musicians. Four of our students have been introduced to chamber music and now perform the Bach Double Violin Concerto in addition to the Opus 118 repertoire. More exciting events are being coordinated for the summer and fall months, please visit our website ( where you can join our email list for Opus 118 invites.

We hope to see you in the audience. Opus 118 continues to transform the lives of students through affordable, high-quality music education. Thank you for your consideration in making a donation to music education.

Now into the school year, the After-School program at our home on 125th Street in Harlem has attracted more students than ever before. We’re certainly at capacity and even as we update you on our project, a beginning violin student is working with his teacher in our office; Joshua is learning to play scales to the tune of “I Love Chocolate Ice Cream.” We now have a waiting list of students hoping to learn through the power of music; that’s why we appreciate your help.

We wanted to give you an idea of what the students have been working on. As we saw last year, the calendar was packed with performance opportunities. This year, our students have been building out their repertoire and have added “Eleanor Rigby, Take the A Train, Son Montuno, a Concerto Grosso. When performing, the young performers revel in the spotlight, having the chance to showcase their talent and all that they’ve learned. And pedagogically, the performances develop the students’ work ethic, focus, and teamwork. Now that we’re well into the year, the students have already had plenty of rehearsals and numerous gigs. For both our students and their families, a major draw of the program is the chance for students to perform on some of the world’s most famous stages. Students at Opus 118 Harlem School of Music have played at the Apollo, at Lincoln Center, and at Carnegie Hall. When a call comes in for a performance opportunity, you can see the excitement in the young students’ faces as they passionately practice their instruments. The students know that it’s only through hard work that they will be selected to publicly perform.

We're gearing up for our spring performance season and the students are ecstatic. But we’re also aware that our friends and donors get excited about performances too. That’s why we’re letting you know about some of the upcoming concerts, should you be in our area. As always, our students are making connections in the community. Come show your support for our students by attending their exciting upcoming concerts in New York City:

March 22, 2010: Join Opus students as they play at New York’s International House at 500 Riverside Drive at 7:00pm. Seating is limited, so guests must RSVP by emailing Robert Gondola, A reception will follow.

May 13, 2010: In conjunction with El Museo del Barrio New York, Opus 118 will hold its annual Honors Recital at the Museum on the 13th of May at 7:30pm. We would love to see you at this performance which features Opus 118’s students who have made the most progress over the year.

We’re excited to let you see our students’ hard work firsthand. As always, Opus 118 continues to support the students of Harlem with low-cost high-quality music education—transformation is possible through the arts. We appreciate your consideration in making a donation to give the gift of music.

Opus 118 Harlem School of Music made it in the American Open Competition! That means that we're here to stay on Global Giving. Thank you to all of our supporters. We couldn't have made this happen without you. Our push really came as the competition winded down. We started the last day with less than 10 supporters and closed with over 70. We have you, our organizations newest friends to thank!

This has been a standout year for Opus 118. In January our students performed in Washington, DC at the Children's Inaugural Ball as part of President Obama's celebration. It was truly a historic event that our students will never forget. We are looking forward to even more successes in the future. Thanks again for your dedicated support.


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Organization Information

Opus 118 Harlem School of Music

Location: New York, NY - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Opus 118 Harlem School of Music
Project Leader:
Rebekah Harkins
Associate Director, Programs & Development
New York, NY United States

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