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Musicopia Welcomes New Artistic Directors For Its Drumline and String Orchestra Programs

Musicopia Welcomes New Artistic Directors For Its Drumline and String Orchestra Programs

Musicopia has announced the appointment of Marcus Myers as the new Artistic Director of the Musicopia Drumlines, and Taia Harlos as the new Artistic Director and Conductor of the Musicopia String Orchestra (MSO). Denise Kinney, Executive Director of Musicopia said, "We are excited to welcome Marcus and Taia to the Musicopia family, and we look forward to the learnings and opportunities their appointments will bring."

Musicopia's mission is to provide opportunities for children to experience, learn, perform, and appreciate music. Since its founding 1974, Musicopia has helped more than 325,000 children in the Philadelphia area experience the benefits of first-hand exposure to the arts, and is a recognized leader in rebuilding and revitalizing school music programs. Musicopia reaches thousands of children each year through in-school music education, a string orchestra program, a drumlines program, and its Gift of Music Instrument Donation Program. Musicopia places a priority on reaching students who are underserved and cut off from the region's rich cultural life. Through its high-quality programs, Musicopia aims to give all children, regardless of circumstances, the opportunity to have their lives transformed by music.

Marcus Myers found his love and passion for music in a small church located outside of Philadelphia. At a young age, it was apparent that music would play a significant part in his life, and from that point on he immersed himself in every musical activity available to him. During his undergraduate studies at University Of The Arts, with a concentration in percussion, his classical and gospel training fused with Jazz and shaped his musical style today. Whether playing Jazz, Americana rock, or Hip hop, his versatility and ability to speak that musical language authentically landed him touring with international music groups quickly after college. He has traveled the world performing with powerhouses such as Kirk Whalum, Reilly, Randy Brecker, Adam Blackstone, and world-renown bassist, Gerald Veasley. From playing festivals in Europe to performing in South Africa, he now sees music from a world view.

Musicopia Drumlines, open to students in grades 3-12, is an after-school percussion program with the goal of inspiring participants to develop world-class music fundamentals, reading, and listening skills; inspire a love of music and cultural pride that will last a lifetime; and learn crucial life skills such as discipline, self-confidence, teamwork, and an aspiration to push themselves to further accomplishments. Percussion has the unique power to engage students with no musical experience, and the Musicopia Drumlines program is successful because it centers curriculum and pedagogy on students' needs. Members consistently demonstrate high academic achievement, increased school attendance, and reduced disciplinary incidents. Musicopia Drumlines ensembles have won competitive titles and have performed widely at parades, private venues, and professional sporting events.

"I'm tremendously grateful to join Musicopia as the Artistic Director of its Drumline program. One of the many things that made me interested in Musicopia is the passion they lead with day in and day out. They truly care about each student they encounter. Musicopia is more than a nonprofit. Musicopia is a family!" Marcus said.

Taia Harlos received her Bachelor's of Music in Performance, Bachelor's of Music in Education, and Master's in Teaching from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. She has taught at Germantown Friends School (GFS) for 17 years and served as Chair of the Music Department for ten years. She currently directs all three orchestras in the school and has guided the growth of the World Percussion program, Jazz program, the Orchestra program, and the Middle School general music program. She is also an avid chamber musician, freelance artist, and solo artist and has performed at numerous summer festivals and with the Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, the Philly POPS, Lancaster Symphony, Delaware Symphony, Philadelphia Opera Company, Haddonfield Symphony, Newtown Chamber Orchestra, the Fairmount String Quartet, Natalie Cole, The Who, Josh Groban, Evanescence, and Ben Folds Five.

The Musicopia String Orchestra program is based on the philosophy that participating in serious, long-term musical endeavors can have a transformative impact on students, encouraging discipline, teamwork, and personal and creative development. MSO serves students aged 7-18 throughout the greater Philadelphia region with three levels of ensemble: Musicopia Young String Players (MYSP), Musicopia String Orchestra, and the Musicopia Chamber Orchestra. Students rehearse with a faculty of passionate and committed teaching artists, and participate in special projects and collaborations with guest artists or groups. In addition to the weekly full orchestra rehearsals, supplemental activities provided may include intensive chamber coaching for advanced students and various collaborations with guest performers.

"Musicopia's mission of outreach and access to music has been inspiring to watch through the last decade, especially under the baton of Daniela Pierson [MSO's outgoing Artistic Director]," Taia said. "I am deeply humbled and motivated to be working with the ensembles of the MSO program, and I know that our musical endeavors will be even more valuable to students as we come together after social distancing."

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