West Philadelphia students open for Philadelphia Orchestra

CENTER CITY - April 25, 2014

The students warmed up Friday evening in a practice room in the Kimmel Center.

The warm up notes we could hear, the excitement we could clearly see but it was their nerves that the very young musicians were trying to hide.

"Like butterflies are in my stomach," said 13-year-old Kaleb Messele.

Twenty-five 'Play On Philly!' students like Kaleb and 14-year-old Raven Burckhalter from the St. Francis de Sales School in West Philadelphia prepared for this moment for months.

It's there chance to open for the Philadelphia Orchestra and string under the direction of one of the best, orchestra director Yannick Nezet-Seguin, who rehearsed with the students Wednesday.

"It's just like a really good privilege because you have other kids who are in music programs but not as intense," said Raven.

"This is the most amazing thing that could happen to a 13-year-old child who is living in Philadelphia to work with Yannick,"said Kaleb.

They went from the practice room to the bright lights of the Kimmel Center stage and a packed house.

The acclaimed and always passionate director of the Philadelphia Orchestra raised his baton Friday night and these teenagers began playing Mozart.

In the end, there was a standing ovation from the audience, admiration from the professionals waiting in the wings and pride from the parents of these amazing musicians.

"It was just mind blowing, it was just so much. It was amazing, just speechless," said Raven, after the performance.

With 'Play On Philly!' being all about forcing social change through music education, it's safe to say after this experience, the lives of those talented students are changed forever.

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