MYCincinnati was founded in August 2011 by Laura Jekel, a classically trained cellist with international teaching experience. Laura spent a year studying El Sistema's methodology and philosophy as part of a prestigious fellowship through the New England Conservatory in Boston. The fellowship included a five-week residency in Venezuela, and visits to 10 other El Sistema-inspired programs across the country.
MYCincinnati is a program of Price Hill Will, a non-profit community development corporation that serves the East, West, and Lower Price Hill neighborhoods. As far as we know, MYCincinnati is the first El Sistema-inspired program in the US to be part of a CDC.
Enrollment increased to 100 students as MYCincinnati created its first-ever Winds Program, offering students the opportunity to play flute and clarinet. In a new partnership with the non-profit organization ArtWorks, MYCincinnati implemented the Youth Apprentice Program, a youth employment initiative that hires current students to work in essential aspects of the program.
In 2016 Director Eddy Kwon was named a United States Artists Ford Fellow, an award given to the the country’s most accomplished and innovative artists working in the fields of Architecture & Design, Crafts, Dance, Literature, Media, Music, Theater & Performance, Traditional Arts and Visual Arts.
The 2017-18 season brought a brand new Percussion Program, an expansion of our Winds and Guitar programs, and additional staff members to support the continued growth of our strings programming. The year ended with genre-defying collaborative performances with cellist Tomeka Reid, shadow puppetry duo Paradox Teatro, musician/astronomer Josiah Wolf, and more as part of the 3rd annual Price Hill Creative Community Festival. MYCincinnati double bassist Ziyad Tooles began his studies at Miami University, where he was awarded a full scholarship to study music. Kalla Ervin, one of MYCincinnati’s first students, joined the teaching staff as a Strings Teaching Artist while pursuing her undergraduate degree from the University of Cincinnati.
In 2018, MYCincinnati hired its first Director of Development, Samantha Lane, and expanded its winds program to offer oboe instruction. With support from Carnegie Hall, MYCincinnati will pilot a year-long Creative Action Residency, aimed at engaging a national artist to work collaboratively with MYCincinnati students to address the question: “How can we use collaborative, creative action to identify, engage with, and ultimately transform the root causes of social & civic challenges?” and, “What is citizenship and citizen artistry, and how do we practice it to advance equity?”
In 2019, Bernardo López became MYCincinnati Director and the program expanded to include instruction in bass clarinet and bassoon, and expanded offerings in percussion instruction. Halfway through the school year, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and MYCincinnati was forced to suspend in-person programming.
From 2011 - 2015 MYCincinnati's young musicians performed hundreds of concerts around Cincinnati and the region. Key collaborations and partnerships were developed with the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, among others. MYCincinnati grew from 11 students to over 90, added a pre-orchestra program for K-2, and the Ambassador Ensemble Program was founded.
In August of 2015, Eddy Kwon took over as Director of MYCincinnati and Laura moved on to become Director of Creative Placemaking & Community Art Initiatives, a new position formed at Price Hill Will. August also saw MYCincinnati's transition into its current space, a gorgeous firehouse building in the heart of the neighborhood.
MYCincinnati's 2015-16 season saw some of its most exciting and unique collaborations. Some highlights include Swedish Grammy-nominated songwriter Jens Lekman, pianist Awadagin Pratt, MUSE Women's Choir, Elementz Urban Arts, and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra.
In summer 2016, MYCincinnati hosted the first annual Price Hill Creative Community Festival, a free performing arts and neighborhood festival that uses collaborative and experimental arts to create a more inclusive community. The festival also saw the realization of MYCincinnati's first Artist-in-Residence program.
The 2016-17 season saw groundbreaking collaborations with Napoleon Maddox (Contemporary Arts Center World Premiere of "Twice The First Time") and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (performing Shostakovich's 8th String Quartet).