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Press Releases

New England Conservatory Awarded Additional Mellon Foundation Grant for Bridge to Equity and Achievement in Music (BEAM) Program

September 21, 2022


Grant to provide 24 months of programming for student musicians, creating more pathways for middle and high school students to pursue classical music through higher ed

September 20, 2022 – Boston, MA – Following the success of the Boston Bridge to Equity and Achievement in Music (BEAM) initiative that brings musical training to talented students from communities that have been historically excluded in classical music, the Mellon Foundation has awarded an additional $1.25 million to Boston BEAM, hosted by New England Conservatory (NEC) in partnership with Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras, Project STEP, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, to continue the impactful program for two more years. BEAM provides a pathway for musically gifted middle and high schoolers to pursue higher education in classical music.

The program began in the fall of 2019 with more than 50 students receiving private instrumental lessons, orchestral experience, chamber music coaching, music theory classes, support for summer program participation, and long-term advising and mentorship.

“When NEC and our partners came together four years ago to develop and launch the BEAM program, the goal was to increase diversity in conservatory and university instrumental music programs in order to address longstanding inequities in the field of classical music,” said NEC President Andrea Kalyn. “We are pleased with the progress we have made, while recognizing that students still face barriers in pursuing a higher education of music studies. The additional funding from the Mellon Foundation allows us to continue this vital program while also broadening BEAM’s community impact for students.”

The additional funding will help BEAM to: 

  • Build upon core programming
  • Develop a robust ecosystem of organizations throughout Boston who create access to music for all with input from a Community Advisory Committee
  • Foster a greater dialogue between higher education institutions and pathway programs that train future artists
  • Amplify stories that showcase student success to inspire additional students to participate in the program

“This additional funding will allow us to continue our support of students and families through a thorough evaluation process and personalized performance learning plans,” said Rodrigo Guerrero, BEAM’s program director. “In the Spring 2023 semester, BEAM will continue helping students make informed decisions about their pathway to colleges and conservatories.  Thanks to our programming and bi-weekly counseling meetings, our mix of high-level individual and ensemble lessons, and workshops and masterclasses that provide opportunities to engage with diverse artists and music professionals, all facets of the student’s life and opportunities to shape their post-secondary education experiences are addressed.”

For more information, please visit the BEAM website.


Founded by Eben Tourjée in Boston, Massachusetts in 1867, the New England Conservatory (NEC) represents a model of music school that combines the best of European tradition with American innovation. This independent conservatory stands at the center of Boston’s rich cultural history and musical life, presenting concerts at the renowned Jordan Hall on Huntington Avenue, recognized as Boston’s Avenue of the Arts. As a not-for-profit institution that educates and trains musicians of all ages, NEC cultivates a diverse, dynamic community, providing music students of more than 40 countries with performance opportunities and high-caliber training from 225 internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars.


The Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities. Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there. Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive. Learn more at


In September 2018, the Mellon Foundation awarded $2.5 million to New England Conservatory of Music (NEC), in consortium with the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras, the Community Music Center of Boston, Project STEP, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, to launch the Boston Bridge to Equity and Achievement in Music (BEAM) initiative. Through the BEAM initiative, 50 students each year receive private instrumental lessons, orchestral experience, chamber music coaching, music theory classes, support for summer program participation, and long-term, individual advising and mentorship.


Established in 1958 by the Boston University College of Fine Arts as a youth orchestra for junior and senior high school students from the Greater Boston area, the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras has flourished for more than six decades and impacted the lives of thousands of young musicians. Today, the BYSO serves more than 600 children from over 120 communities throughout New England. Its mission is to encourage musical excellence in a professional and supportive environment by providing the highest quality orchestra training and performance opportunities to qualified musicians, grades K-12 and making its programs accessible to underserved communities through financial assistance and outreach.


Project STEP (String Training and Education Program) was founded in 1982 to rectify the vast underrepresentation of racial and ethnic minorities in classical music. STEP’s mission is to address this imbalance by identifying musically talented children of color from Greater Boston and providing them with long-term, rigorous music and string instrument instruction. Based at Symphony Hall in partnership with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, STEP helps primarily Black and Latino students in grades K-12 develop strong musicianship and life skills through an intensive curriculum of lessons, classes, ensembles, performances and enrichment opportunities.


Led by Music Director Andris Nelsons since 2014, the Boston Symphony Orchestra gave its inaugural concert in 1881. Today the BSO reaches millions of listeners through not only our concert performances in Boston and at Tanglewood, but also via streaming on BSO NOW, educational and community programs, radio, television, recordings, and tours. The BSO’s mission is to foster and maintain an organization dedicated to the making of music consonant with the highest aspirations of the musical art, creating performance and providing educational and training programs at the highest level of excellence.





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