Play on, Philly! Flourishes at St. Francis de Sales School

This post originally published in the June 2012 edition of the Cedar Park Neighbors Newsletter. Play On, Philly! (POP) is the innovative music education program that has landed right here in our own neighborhood at St. Francis De Sales School. Inspired by the social development and music education program of Venezuela, El Sistema, POP seeks to enrich the lives ofPhiladelphia youth by providing daily musical instruction in communities which have little access to music education. (learn more on

Established in 2011 at St. Francis de Sales School by local musician and POP Executive Director, Stanford Thompson, the program involves 110 youth ages six to thirteen, this in a school with a total enrollment of 550.  In just a short time, the St. Francis de Sales Play On, Philly! orchestra has burst on to the Philadelphiamusic scene with much acclaim. The children are taught by first class musicians and have had opportunities to perform with renowned conductors and work with a number of visiting artists.  In recent months they welcomed the great jazz musician, Wynton Marsalis, who performed for the children and conducted a master class with some orchestra members.  The highlight of their concert season was an opportunity to perform with none other than our Philadelphia Orchestra at the KimmelCenteron May 10 with famed guest conductor, Sir Simon Rattle.  The YouTube video of this special performance is not to be missed and can be accessed at: