Violinist makes Project 440 in Philadelphia beneficiary of her 2014 Glashütte prize from the Dresden Music Festival

Hilary Hahn ©Dana van Leeuwen-Decca

Hilary Hahn
Photo ©Dana van Leeuwen/Decca

Violinist Hilary Hahn has chosen the Philadelphia-based Project 440 as the beneficiary of her 2014 Dresden Music festival Glashütte Original prize.

The award recognises commitment to music education, and comes with a €25,000 cash element to be donated to an educational organisation of the recipient’s choice.

Project 440 does not teach music, but rather runs programmes which ‘draw on a shared love of music to help young people build essential life skills’, offering free after-school classes and an annual college fair for musicians.

In its citation, the festival award committee said, ‘Through her authentic, contemporary musical language, Hilary Hahn reaches beyond the concert hall to young classical music fans.’ The violinist’s innovative use of social media was singled out, as well as her teaching work with string students: ‘She inspires young musicians through her intense and uncompromising way of making music.’

Hahn moved to Philadelphia at the age of 10 to attend the Curtis Institute of Music and made her concerto debut in the city a year later, and lived in the city until her mid twenties.

‘Project 440 serves a crucial purpose within the arts world,’ Hahn said. ‘They reach across a broad socio-economic spectrum to high school students, helping them to take leadership roles in their communities and rehearsing life skills within the shared language of music.

‘Many organizations are doing great work around personal leadership, but the way Project 440 goes about it is different from anything I’ve seen. I believe that music can be a starting point for so many kinds of conversations. Musical study has parallels across multiple disciplines: daily practice, self-guided development, the translation of history into the present day, empathy, communication, and collaboration.

Joseph Conyers with Project 440 students - c. Al B For photography

Project 440 students with executive director Joseph Conyers, principal bass of the Philadelphia Orchestra
Photo: Al B For Photography

‘To harness that shared basis into a sense of purpose in the wider world not only helps music, it helps the world. Project 440 is poised to implement their projects on a larger scale, and I hope this grant will help them to reach their goals for the 2019-20 school year. They are a small organization with a big impact. Between their mission, passion, achievements, organizational efficiency, reach, and potential, they are the complete package. I’m excited to see what’s ahead!’

Joseph Conyers, Philadelphia Orchestra principal bass and Project 440’s founder and executive director, commented:

‘Hilary Hahn is an artist of the highest caliber and international repute. I’ve been in awe of her playing since her debut album of Bach as a teenager – a recording that remains one of the finest I know. I am a long-time admirer of Hilary’s artistry and musicianship.

‘Even with such accolades, Hilary has gone above and beyond to make herself accessible – using her gifts to inspire countless aspiring young musicians, music lovers, and enthusiasts worldwide through unique collaborations, the championing of new music, and superstar status as an influencer on social media.

‘Using music as a tool to encourage and empower young people is at the core of our work at Project 440. We are thrilled that Hilary has identified Project 440 as the recipient of the funds from her prestigious Glashütte Award. We are thankful for Hilary’s belief in our programs, and we are further encouraged to do all we can — through music — to teach the life skills needed for individual growth and community impact to as many young people as possible.’