Author: Stanford Thompson
Born and raised in a musical family, Stanford Thompson began playing trumpet at the age of 8 and studied with members of the Georgia State University faculty and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. After implementing several successful entrepreneurial ventures as a child, he grew more interested in combining his musical talents and interests in business to build various social projects. In 2010, Thompson founded the El Sistema-inspired program Play On, Philly! where he currently serves as Executive Director and has secured over $9 million in funding, which has impacted the lives of hundreds of children in Philadelphia.
Inspiring audiences to appreciate the power of music and orchestras is one of Thompson’s greatest passions. He regularly speaks to the communities of TED, League of American Orchestras, and El Sistema-inspired initiatives around the world. He believes orchestras offer us lessons in leadership, innovation, diversity and inclusion.
Giving back to organizations with music at the core of their mission is important to Thompson. He currently serves on the boards of the American Composers Forum and the Philadelphia Wind Symphony. Previously, he was a board member for the Curtis Institute of Music, Interlochen Center for the Arts, and El Sistema USA.
As a trained, professional trumpeter, Thompson has performed with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, Curtis Symphony Orchestra, Lancaster Symphony Orchestra, Symphony in C and recorded on the Ondine label with Christoph Eschenbach. He also appeared as a soloist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Ocean City Pops Orchestra and the North Springs Philharmonic. He leads residencies with Philos Brass in Pennsylvania and Georgia where they performed recitals and outreach presentations, presented master classes, and conducted clinics. In the jazz idiom, Thompson has performed for the Berks Jazz Festival, on the Washington College Concert Series and presented for the opening gala of the Philadelphia Orchestra with the Rittenhouse Jazz Quintet.
Thompson is a native of Atlanta, GA and hold degrees from The Curtis Institute of Music and the New England Conservatory’s Abreu Fellows Program.
I first learned about Project STEP (String Training Education Program) when I was in middle school. Being a trumpet player, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to join, but at Interlochen I would get to know one of their students very well and learn that they have helped dozens of students launch careers as professional musicians.
Stanford Thompson was performing for a group of students when one raised his hand and asked, “Why should I care about Beethoven?” Thompson started questioning everything after that day.