Penn Band Receives Musicopia Inspire Award

In addition to playing the soundtrack to a number of sporting events at the University of Pennsylvania and on the road, many members of the Penn Band share a love for playing instruments and contributing their time and talent via outreach to the Philadelphia community.

The Band’s efforts were recently recognized by Musicopia, a local non-profit that offers assemblies, residencies, instrument instruction and performance opportunities in underserved communities and schools. Musicopia presented the Penn Band with the Inspire Award at the annual Thank You Reception and String Orchestra Winter Concert and award ceremony hosted by the Catholic Philopatrian Literary Institute.

For the past three years, the Penn Band has assisted Musicopia by offering spaces at Penn’s High School Summer Band Camp to students involved in Musicopia-supported percussion ensembles in Philadelphia. In addition, alumni from the Band have sponsored a fundraising campaign, which covers the tuition and residency costs so participating Musicopia students can fully enjoy Penn’s week-long overnight summer band camp experience.

Linnea Phillips of Phoenixville, Pa., is a senior in the School of Nursing. Phillips plays the cymbals and is secretary of the Fanfare Honor Society. She says the outreach that the band does with local schools is one of her favorite parts of being a member.

She worked as a camp counselor last summer and says, “All of the campers are really talented and hard workers, and they really love what they do.”

Kushol Gupta, assistant director of the Band, says it is rooted in helping others develop their skills through music education and considers itself, “a service organization and Penn’s most audible ambassador.”

Founded in 1897, the Band’s membership typically ranges between 100 and 150 every year and performs upwards of 100 times. Gupta praises the student leadership within the band, namely the Band’s Fanfare Honor Society.

Gupta says the student leadership is, “the engine under the hood” of the band’s outreach activities. The peer-selected group takes the initiative to organize local school visits, fundraising and instrument drives. Additionally, the annual West Philadelphia Halloween Parade is led exclusively by students, namely the Penn Band’s drumline.

Giulia Arostegui of Sacramento, Calif., a junior in the School of Nursing and chair of the Fanfare Honor Society, describes the band as her family away from home. A bass drum player, Arostegui says she enjoys giving back to the community while expressing herself through music through outreach programs such as Honor Band days.

Jacob Reeder, a senior communication major and a trumpeter, echoes his fellow band mate regarding outreach and music education. Reeder, who is from Syracuse, N.Y., and is the vice chair of the Fanfare Honor Society, credits the mentorship of seasoned musicians in his musical growth.

“When we convey that same message to younger students,” says Reeder, “we're not just creating future adults who can play instruments; we're helping to create adults who can think creatively about problems and work as a team, adults who appreciate new cultures and styles and have a constructive outlet for their feelings.” 

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