Guv Hears The Music

On the third floor, the governor heard a wind sextet. In the basement, a clave rhythm. In the auditorium, he heard a Bartok sonata—another reminder to help to keep the music going.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy heard all that during a Monday afternoon visit to the Neighborhood Music School (NMS) on Audubon Street. He was joined by Hamden’s State Rep. Brendan Sharkey, the speaker of the House, and New Haven Mayor Toni Harp.

NMS Executive Director Lawrence Zukof led the three on a tour of the school, popping in on various classes and lessons in progress. Click the play arrow to hear what they heard.

Zukof said the school invited the governor to visit in order to “raise the visibility of the arts” and encourage the state to continue funding the school. The state gave NMS $50,000 in the current fiscal year’s budget, money that is going toward scholarships for music students, Zukof said.

NMS is the largest community arts organization in the state, with a budget of $4.5 million. It has 200 teachers who serve 2,600 students each year.

Zukof said about 350 students receive free or reduced tuition at the school. To do that, NMS has to raise about $600,000, he said.

The scholarship money goes to help kids who would never otherwise be able to attend the school, he said. “Otherwise the lessons would only be for the [children of] two surgeon families.”

As he began the tour, Zukof told his guests that the school was founded in Wooster Square in 1911 by Italian immigrants. In the late ‘60s the school moved to Audubon Street, to the then-forming arts district.

It has expanded to include a preschool, which the governor, mayor, and speaker, admired on the second floor.

Thomas MacMillan PhotoMalloy stopped in on a piano lesson …

… and a flute trio, among other visits.

The tour finished up in the school’s first-floor auditorium, where the honored guests were treated to a concert by a recorder group, a clarinet ensemble, and solo pianist Corey Chang, who offered a dramatic performance of the first movement of Bartok’s piano sonata. 

Mayor Harp spoke about how proud New Haven is to have the Neighborhood Music School, particularly because of its partnership with New Haven public schools. She said the city is lucky to have a governor who knows about the importance of early education and of arts education.

“We have stepped up our funding for arts in Connecticut,” Malloy said. He said he’s also working to expand early childhood education.

With a trend toward schools cutting out arts funding, “it’s nice to know this wonderful resource exists for New Haven and the surrounding communities,” he said.

The school gave the certificates of appreciation to the governor and the speaker (pictured at center) …

… who then posed for photos with students.

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