Midwood school mounts concert to save its music program

In the 1999 movie “Music of the Heart,” a violin teacher played by Meryl Streep is faced with the elimination of the music education program from her public school in Harlem. The teacher saves the program by organizing a fundraising concert at Carnegie Hall featuring former students, current pupils, and world class musicians like Itzhak Perlman.

Parents at a Midwood elementary school are aiming for a real-life version of the movie and are hoping for a similar happy ending.

The Parents Association of P.S. 193 is hosting a concert on Saturday, March 9, at the school, 2515 Ave. L, at 2 p.m., to raise money for the school’s music program. The program’s funding was cut by the Department of Education last year. Due to the efforts of P.S. 193 Principal Frank Cimino, the funds were partially restored this year to allow the school to hire two part-time music teachers.

“Our principal is a huge supporter of arts education and he worked hard to get that funding,” Lori Hoepner, a parent at the school, told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. “Even though we restored some of the funds, we know there will be further cuts. We’re trying to prepare for the future,” she said, explaining why the PA was organizing the concert.

P.S. 193, also known as the Gil Hodges Elementary School, after the legendary Brooklyn Dodgers player and New York Mets manager, is a Title I school. The school boasts a robust music program. Children perform in choruses, play in drum corps, and learn to play the recorder. A choral teacher leads the chorus and writes songs for class musicals. The children of P.S. 193 have won awards in the Riverside Symphony Music Memory competition and regularly visited local nursing homes to perform for elderly patients, parents said. At a holiday concert at the school, the chorus sang “Jungle Bells” in French.

“In response to huge budget cuts that affected our school's award-winning music program, we are hosting an amazing concert on Saturday, March 9, when 15 world-class musicians will volunteer their talents for the benefit of music education,” said another parent, Yuliya Chernova.

Chernova said the concert, called the Spring Music and Family Festival, will feature a wide variety of performers, from classical pianist Nataliya Medvedovskaya to folk musicians The Lords of Liechtenstein. Lana Krakovskiy, who plays the pipe organ, will perform. Lyric soprano Sarah Worthington is also on the bill, along with Nathan Carver, an actor and clown who plays the saw. 

The show will offer fans “a remarkable variety of musical instruments on the same stage, from harpsichord to saxophone, from piccolo trumpet to ukulele,” Chernova said. The music genres will include opera, hip-hop, folk, rhythm and blues, and baroque. 

There will also be kid-friendly activities, raffles, door prizes, and hot food.

Parents are hoping to raise $9,000 with the concert, Hoepner said. “Arts education is so important. I don’t think a school can thrive by just teaching math and science,” she said. 

To purchase tickets, visit the Parents Association office at PS 193 or visit their event website.