Center for the Development of Arts Leaders: Team RadioWAVES

For the past few months, From the Top has been hard at work launching our Center for the Development of Arts Leaders (CDAL)! This blog is the third in a series written by Linda Gerstle, Director of Education and Community Partnerships, chronicling the pilot year of this program. You can read the first post here and the second post here.

The Roland Hayes School of Music is a Boston public school offering individual and ensemble music to students grades 7-12. It bears the name of the first African American male concert artist to receive wide international acclaim.. Born in Georgia to former slaves, Roland Hayes (1887-1977) was a lyric tenor and an important presence in Boston, having secured professional management with the Boston Symphony Orchestra Concert Company.

The school shares a campus in Roxbury, MA with the John D. O’Bryant School for Mathematics and Science and the Madison Park Technical Vocational High School. Roland Hayes is an under-utilized resource for Boston schools, which provides a unique entry point for a team of young arts leaders. RadioWAVES, the CDAL team partnered with the school, has committed itself to furthering the school’s mission of community outreach to support aspiring musicians and integrate music as a part of all students’ curriculum.

Left to Right: Greg Gazzola (from Roland Hayes), Yun-Jae Lee, Carson Lloyd, Eric Ortiz (Mentor), Shiya Wang, Clifton Williams, Brian Eisert (from Roland Hayes)

Under the leadership of CDAL mentor Eric Ortiz, RadioWAVES, has designed a multi-pronged approach to increasing the visibility of the school and its services. This includes promoting the school’s annual concerts across the city, recruiting guest artists from the community to enhance the opportunities available to students, and showcasing the muscial skills and talents of the RadioWAVES team as a model and inspiration to what the students might aspire.

One weekend in April, RadioWAVES shared a special afternoon with the Roland Hayes Pep Band who was playing at the Boston Public School’s All-Star Basketball game at Northeastern University. RadioWAVES identified this as an important relationship building and information gathering event – an opportunity to interact with the school community in a less formal and structured setting. They helped with event logistics, including the transportation and set up of the equipment and they joined the team for the bus ride to Northeastern. In the words of one of the team members, “We learned a lot about what the students liked about the music programs at the school, and what they would like to see more of.” A surprise outcome was the opportunity to meet Boston Superintendent Dr. Carol Johnson, who expressed an interest in the CDAL project and invited one of the team members to contact her secretary directly to discuss future opportunities.

RadioWAVES team member Shiya Wang working with students

RadioWAVES mentor Eric is a lifelong resident of Boston, a graduate of the Roland Hayes School, and a formidable trumpet player! Using his personal connection to the project site, Eric has inspired RadioWAVES with his infectious passion for the school and its students. He demonstrates the importance of an ongoing commitment to giving back through his continued work for Roland Hayes outside of the CDAL program.

Eric’s influence is palpable, as expressed by one of his team members in his first trip to the school without Eric – “The sky was grayer, the air chillier, the streets emptier. But just like what Eric said, we should grow to be independent, capable arts leaders.”