Education Through Music, ETM, celebrated its 30th Annual Benefit Gala this week. Over 400 people attended and raised over $1M. The first in-person event in three years honored Peter Riguardi, Chairman and President of Jones Lang LaSalle’s New York Tri-state Region and Thomas Carroll, a devoted music theater teacher at PS 154, who received Teacher of the Year award. Student Franklin Fortuna was awarded winner of the Original Composition contest.
“So it was Amanda Gorman speech that I just turned into a song and composed around it to capture what the emotions I think that she was trying to convey. I have always been interested in music. And I think it’s because of my grandpa. Like since I was younger. I saw him love music and it made me love it too.” said Franklin Fortuna admitting he was a bit nervous before getting up on the stage.
American opera singer Norm Lewis emceed the event and wowed the crowd with a moving performance of “The Impossible Dream.”
“ETM was founded 30 years ago to advance equity in NYC schools, driven by the belief that every student deserves access to high-quality music education,” said Richard Bernstein, Chair of ETM’s Board of Directors. It takes an ensemble of passionate people to ensure our work continues to impact the lives of countless students who would otherwise have no music education at school,” he said.
He shared that the event was about celebrating kids who make music. Simple goal was to hope that the new faces in the crowd and the old faces are reenergized so they see how vital ETM’s work is and that they spread the word, because as big as ETM is, there’s a lot of work to do. Teaching over 20,000 kids per year is not enough since there are a half a million kids in New York City schools that don’t get music education.
“So we will not stop until we are in every single school. Music education brings to children who are part of music educational programs so much. First of all, it gives them the passion. They become lifelong learners, because everybody has a certain genre of music they attach to, they have self esteem. They get strong collaborative skills because they have to work in an ensemble form. And I think they achieve new heights that they didn’t think they were able to achieve using new music as a vehicle.” added Richard Bernstein.
The highlight of the evening, with a standing ovation, was an emotional performance of three songs by 45 choral and orchestral students from MS108. They were joined by Season 11 contestant of The Voice, Wé McDonald, who was a guest artist.
“I got involved because I have a children’s book and I go around New York City schools and I talk about anti bullying, advocating and how you can grow into music. And one of the schools that I actually did a masterclass for, they’re performing. So they’re involved in ETM, and honestly, it’s, it’s the best thing that I could have ever done. Music is extremely essential to education because it doesn’t just teach, you know, notes and scales. Music is a part of everything. It’s a part of math, engineering, growth, skills, communication. It’s also part of collaboration with other students, and it’s a healthy way for kids to be able to cope with their feelings and have a healthy outlet. A lot of these kids don’t have healthy outlets. So it’s very important for kids to be able to have something like that.” said Wé McDonald
In his acceptance speech, Riguardi commented how important music has been in his life and how essential it is to a well-rounded education. ETM’s work continues and if you would like to you can also make a donation