The Fulbright Association partners with the Global Leaders Program, a YOA Youth Orchestra of the Americas initiative, to provide scholarships for Fulbright alumni to participate in missions to teach music to underserved youth around the world. Founded by Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Hilda Ochoa-Brillembourg, YOA is a world-class symphony orchestra of musicians aged 18-30 from 25 countries across the Americas as well as an innovative musical education program.
Through YOA’s Global Leaders Institute, musicians have the opportunity to serve around the globe in which they perform and teach free master classes to young musicians. These Global Leaders Missions are an innovative way to enhance the perspective of young musical leaders from the Fulbright community, while simultaneously supporting emerging music education initiatives on the ground. Teams of international musical mentors spend 7-14 days in remote communities mentoring young musicians and regional music teachers, and writing case studies based on their observations.
YOA has a rich history of cultivating Fulbrighters in the orchestral arts. Our collaboration is part of ongoing efforts to unify Fulbrighters around the world. Our work together not only provides the latest initiative in our reinvigorated focus on the arts, but also gives alumni the opportunity to travel and teach music to communities in need.
The first Fulbright alumnus selected for a Global Leaders Mission is Danielle Cho, a cellist who spent her Fulbright year in Barcelona in 2006. From July 16-23, 2016, Cho will be part of a faculty team of 15 musicians on a mission in Argentina, where YOA is co-sponsoring the 2016 Biennial Youth Philharmonic Festival in El Chaco, a historically economically challenged province. Cho, along with her team of fellow Global Leaders, will play chamber music concerts, give solo performances, teach master classes to students and teachers at the Instituto Superior del Profesora de Musica in Resistencia, and lead educational activities in the region.
Cho, co-founder of Sound Impact, a nonprofit that brings chamber musicians to perform for and teach underserved communities in Costa Rica and across the U.S., is no stranger to using musical talent to inspire social change and broaden horizons.
As musicians, we chose music because we were affected by something… we’ve all had an experience that changed our perspective. I was so impacted by my Fulbright… going abroad and having new cultural experiences, I want to give that experience to someone else.” – Danielle Cho
Cho has also seen firsthand the effect of bringing music to underserved communities. Playing for children in an orphanage in Costa Rica, she saw for herself how “the experience is so life changing. The kids are so eager to see something different.”
Cho stresses that the ultimate purpose of bringing opportunities for free musical education to underserved populations is not necessarily to turn children into concert performers, but rather to “broaden their perspective, as the Fulbright did for me.” Across the world, new music education initiatives, including YOA and many others, are forming based on a growing understanding of the value of music as a tool in community development. Early musical training offers children a platform to develop strong thinking, social-emotional and physical skills that help them succeed in school, relationships, and the workforce.
The Fulbright Association and YOA’s Global Leaders Institute share a common vision of social and individual change through international exchange. Together, they will increase opportunities for alumni to be involved in global music education and grassroots social change in 2016 and beyond.
Fulbright Association Executive Director Jennifer Oxley notes: “We’re grateful to Hilda Ochoa-Brillembourg, current YOA Board President and Fulbrighter, for bringing this opportunity to us as well as The Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Foundation.”
Led by Artistic Advisor Plácido Domingo, YOA is a world-class symphony orchestra of gifted young musicians, ages 18 to 30, from 25 countries in the Western Hemisphere. YOA’s mission is to empower young musical leaders to transform lives across the Americas and beyond. The season centerpiece is a July-August Residence and Concert Tour held each year in different regions of the world. YOA has performed more than 300 concerts since its 2002 Inaugural Tour in settings that range from the most prestigious concert halls of Europe and the Americas to outdoor venues not often associated with symphonic music.
The Global Leaders Program is a nine-month professional certificate program in Community Leadership, Teaching Artistry and Social Entrepreneurship for musicians. Participants study with a faculty of experts from business to neuroscience, education to psychology. The Program combines an academic curriculum overseen by Oxford and McGill Universities with international missions to dynamic communities in partnership with the Fulbright Association to put learning into practice. Adapted to the lives of busy professionals and graduate students, the Program utilizes an interactive teaching approach that combines individual study, teamwork, webinars and group reflection.
The Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Foundation was established in 2011 to actively support the arts in all forms as well as arts education – inspiring an appreciation of the arts as fundamental to, even transformative of, our daily lives.