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New York, September 29, 2020 – Third Street Music School Settlement today announces that InterSchool Orchestras of New York (ISO) will come under its umbrella to form the largest and most expansive youth ensemble program in New York City.

With a combined 175 years of experience in music education, this partnership galvanizes the missions of both organizations to ensure access to high-quality instruction for students from all five boroughs at a time when many music programs are closed because of the pandemic.

Third Street will now offer a total of six orchestras for hundreds of students ages 8 to 18. This new orchestra program will offer generous financial assistance to students who otherwise would be unable to afford orchestral study and performance experiences.

“We are so pleased to welcome the ISO families, students and faculty to the Third Street community,” said Valerie G. Lewis, the Anna-Maria Kellen Executive Director. “Third Street and ISO were founded to connect young people to the music education they deserve and introduce them to the joys of group music making. During this challenging time, student ensembles play a critical role in helping children and teens avoid social isolation.”

The partnership will allow ISO’s orchestras to continue to flourish with the administrative and professional support of Third Street. The three additional orchestras will be called ISO at Third Street. The acquisition is expected to be completed by January. Third Street will immediately assume primary responsibility for the operation of the ISO program, with completion of ISO’s transfer expected to be completed following receipt of required government approvals later this year.

“We are so excited to affiliate with an enduring and respected organization like Third Street and benefit from its deep bench of artistic resources,” said Barbara Tracy, ISO Board President. “Our missions to reach disadvantaged students with the highest caliber of instruction are perfectly matched.”

In March when the pandemic forced public schools to close, Third Street and ISO quickly pivoted to virtual instruction for all programs and they continue online this fall. Third Street anticipates that in-person rehearsals will return slowly in the new year.

Arts education pioneer Emile Wagner founded Third Street in 1894 as the country’s first community music school. It has been guided by the dual goals of providing top-notch education and making sure disadvantaged communities and students of all ages and abilities have access to it. Third Street’s illustrious alums include songwriter, and EGOT winner Bobby Lopez, composer Jessie Montgomery and music director Ray Chew. The school’s ensembles have been showcased at many New York City venues, including Carnegie Hall, Symphony Space, Steinway Hall and Le Poisson Rouge.

Over five decades ISO’s youth orchestras have built a reputation for excellence. Founded by Annabelle Prager in 1972 because her son’s school didn’t offer ensemble music instruction, ISO attracts top students from all around the city. Its graded orchestras, led by experienced musicians with a passion for teaching, provide students a path to advance from beginner to virtuoso. The youth orchestras have delighted audiences in Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Central Park and on tours of Europe and Latin America. ISO’s luminary alums include James Gaffigan, Chief Conductor, Lucerne Symphony, Switzerland and Tito Muñoz, Music Director, Opéra national de Lorraine & Orchestre symphonique et lyrique de Nancy, France.

All students are required to audition to determine skill level and placement into the appropriate orchestra. To schedule an audition, email Ivan Antonov at [email protected] or call 212-777-3240.

About Third Street Music School Settlement
Third Street, which was founded 125 years ago to provide music instruction to immigrants and their children, is the nation’s longest-running community music school. Third Street enriches the lives of young students and adults by providing access to high-quality music and dance instruction regardless of their ability to pay. The school serves thousands of students each year in its primary location on East 11th Street in Manhattan and through partnerships with public schools.

About InterSchool Orchestras of New York
ISO began five decades ago with a single orchestra of 20 children. Today, ISO serves nearly 300, creating opportunities for school-aged children in New York City to make music together through tiered-level orchestras. The ensembles perform in major concert halls, schools and community centers, bringing great music to over 7,000 people annually.


If you would like more information about this topic please contact, Kristen Kentner, Director of Marketing & Communications, Third Street Music School, 917-213-9208, [email protected]