One of the cornerstones of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s education and community engagement efforts, the Talent Development Program (TDP) identifies musically-gifted and motivated African American and Latino youth in the greater metropolitan Atlanta area and prepares them for acceptance into top music programs in preparation for careers as professional musicians.
Each year, 25 students receive intensive year-round instruction, mentoring, performance opportunities, and biannual progress reviews, and have access to the resources of a major American orchestra. TDP students receive one-on-one coaching from Atlanta Symphony Orchestra musicians or highly qualified local instructors approved by the Orchestra. Additionally, students and their families are eligible to receive complimentary tickets to Atlanta Symphony subscription concerts to enhance their appreciation of the orchestral repertoire and the nuances of world-class musicianship. TDP students also participate in chamber ensembles and/or competitive large group ensembles, such as the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra and the Emory Youth Symphony Orchestra. In addition, through the Azira G. Hill Scholarship Fund, the TDP provides financial assistance for students to attend leading summer music study programs.
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Talent Development Program is the oldest year-round, intensive training program established by a major American orchestra to support talented young African American and Latino students of every orchestral instrument. TDP students will influence the orchestras of tomorrow as exceptional musicians who are role models and ambassadors for classical music throughout the community.
Annually the TDP includes 25 students ranging from 5th to 12th grade, most of whom remain in the program through high school graduation. Cellist and TDP graduate Ismail Akbar recently secured a one-year appointment in the Augusta Symphony Orchestra, the second TDP graduate to secure a position with a professional orchestra. In 2007, bassist and TDP graduate Eric Thompson was appointed to a one-year position at the Charlotte Symphony — he now holds a permanent position there. In 2014, bassist and TDP graduate Xavier Foley was the Senior Division First Place Laureate of the 2014 Annual Sphinx Competition and performed as a soloist with the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra at the Detroit Symphony Hall.
The excellence of the program is also reflected through TDP students becoming finalists in the national Sphinx Competition, featured guests on the NPR’s “From the Top,” as well as solo performers with the ASO in National Black Arts Festival concerts, donor appreciation concerts, and the ASO’s King Celebration concerts. TDP students comprise a significant segment of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra and regularly place in the top All-State ensembles (many in principal positions).