WCM Awarded Grant from the NEA

NEA Challenge America Grant Press Release

WCM Awarded Grant from the NEA

Two Acclaimed Artists to Join 2020 Summer Music Institute

Contact: Karen Herzog
Director, Grants and Communication
Wisconsin Conservatory of Music
kherzog@wcmusic.org | (414) 491-9118

JANUARY 16, 2020


(MILWAUKEE) — The National Endowment for the Arts announced this week that a nonprofit, Milwaukee-based community music school is one of 145 recipients nationwide of a Challenge America grant to support a summer artist-in-residence music program primarily for children from economically-challenged neighborhoods in Milwaukee.

The Wisconsin Conservatory of Music will use the $10,000 Challenge America grant – together with a total $12,500 cost-share match from the United Performing Arts Fund, Milwaukee Bucks Foundation, and Milwaukee Public Schools Partnership for the Arts & Humanities – to bring two national guest artists to its citywide Summer Music Institute to be held weekdays, June 21-July 2.

The first guest artist, Brandon Boyd, has been nationally active in social justice issues, including directing a women’s prison glee club in Tallahassee. He appears regularly as a conductor, clinician, composer in residence, collaborative pianist, and lecturer for conferences, collegiate choirs, choral festivals, and workshops. He is assistant director of choral activities and an assistant professor of choral music education at University of Missouri.

The second guest artist, Bolokada Conde, is a master drummer from Kissidougou, Guinea. He is an expert of Malinke or Mandinka rhythms, one of the world’s foremost djembefolas, and was featured in the IMAX movie, “PULSE: A Stomp Odyssey.” He has been performing and teaching in the United States since 2014.

Guest artists will serve as mentors, and as examples of musicians who have reached a high level of excellence through hard work and dedication. All institute students will choose instrumental and/or vocal areas of study to help them identify their talents and passion. The two-week summer program for students in grades 3 through 12 will offer a combination of private lessons and group instruction, including band, orchestra, choir, drumming and an instrumental exploration class.

The National Endowment for the Arts’ Challenge America grant primarily supports projects of small and mid-sized organizations that extend the reach of the arts to populations with limited access to the arts due to geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. Each Challenge America grant is for a fixed amount of $10,000 and requires a minimum $10,000 cost share/match from other funders.

“The arts are at the heart of our communities, connecting people through shared experiences and artistic expression,” said Arts Endowment chairman Mary Anne Carter. “The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support projects like the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music’s national artist-in-residence for its Summer Music Institute.”

Eric Tillich, president and chief executive officer of the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, said the grant will help strengthen the nonprofit school’s mission: “Inspiring individuals and communities through exceptional music education, accessible to all.”

“Through the incredible generosity of the NEA and our funding partners, we can inspire children from Milwaukee with national renowned artists at our Summer Music Institute,” Tillich said.

“We know that programs like this provide the launching pad for our students to pursue their musical dreams,” Tillich added.

The Conservatory offers a greatly reduced tuition cost for Milwaukee residents and Milwaukee Public Schools students to make the Summer Music Institute accessible to all interested students. The Summer Music Institute also participates in the Milwaukee Public Schools’ reduced lunch program.

The Wisconsin Conservatory of Music’s Summer Music Institute expects to enroll about 200 students from across Milwaukee with broad musical interests and skill levels.

Through the Summer Music Institute, the Conservatory helps create pathways for underserved students to study individually with the community music school’s renowned faculty. In 2018, the Conservatory raised more than $200,000 for private lesson scholarships and financial aid.

Meet the Guest Artists

Brandon A. Boyd

Brandon A. Boyd

Dr. Brandon A. Boyd is the Assistant Director of Choral Activities and Assistant Professor of Choral Music Education at the University of Missouri, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in choral conducting and choral music education. Boyd appears regularly as a conductor, clinician, composer-in-residence, collaborative pianist, and presenter for All-States, conferences, conventions, collegiate choirs, church choirs, and choral festivals.

As a proponent of choral singing to build community, his research interests include organizing choirs for the homeless, identifying the social and physical effects of choral singing on senior citizens, and creating authentic field experiences for music therapy and choral music education students. For three years, Dr. Boyd co-directed three choral community partnerships in Florida: The Tallahassee Senior Choir, RAA Middle School Partnership Choir, (university students and middle school singers), and the MTC Women’s Prison Glee Club (university students singing with women housed in a correctional facility).



Bolokada Conde

Bolokada Conde

Bolokada Conde is a true Master Djembefola (master drummer), expert of Malinke Rhythms and one of world’s best djembe players.

Bolokada was a young musical prodigy who became a sensation in the Sankaran region of Guinea, West Africa. As a master folklorist, he became the premier djembe player of all the major village celebrations in the region for many years.

Bolokada joined the world famous Les Percussion du Guinee to replace the legendary Noumoudy Keïta as their lead drummer. He traveled and performed in major performance venues all over the world since 1996 and was even featured in the IMAX movie PULSE: a Stomp Odyssey. He has conducted percussion workshops all over the US and Europe, and he has released two musical cd’s Morowaya and Sankaran.



kettle moraine school district

To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.