ATLANTA — Waverly Alexander started playing the violin when she was 3 years old. Khari Joyner started playing the cello at a young age with his brothers.
Both of them are a product of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's Talent Development Program and they are ready to change the world.
This Black History Month instead of celebrating the accolades of African Americans who have paved the way for others, we are flipping the script and taking a look at those who are gearing up to make a change and impact the future. For them, it’s in the world of classical music and they owe it all to one woman, Azira Hill.
Hill started the program in the early ‘90s. She did it because she noticed there was a lack of educational programs for young people. The initiative is now noticed among U.S. orchestras as one that mentors gifted middle and high school musicians of “African American or Latino heritage”.
The other reason she started the program was because of her true passion for music. Growing up, all of her siblings were musicians.
"There was music every weekend in my house, she said. "My mother was very strict we could not go out but everyone in the neighborhood could come in.”
When asked if she thinks there is enough diversity in the classical music world and if it matters, she replied with this answer: "It matters because music is important. It makes you expand your knowledge and your vision.”
Some of her past and current musicians agree. They feel that being part of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Talent Development Program will help them with their careers and it gives them an opportunity to showcase their talent.
Joyner, who plays the cello, has toured internationally and even performed for President Barack Obama at the White House. It’s all about opportunities.
“The opportunities Mrs. Hill has given so many of her students through her generosity and her care and support," Joyner said.
To Hill, she has one word to describe what she feels when observing and hearing the students perform, glorious, it’s just glorious”.
For more information on the ASO's Talent Development Program, visit the website.