NEW YORK, Oct. 15, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- One of the most successful youth orchestras in the US Virgin Islands is called the Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra. Based out of St. Thomas, the orchestra is a non-profit organization, designed to educate and inspire underprivileged students in the world of music.
The orchestra has just received critical funding from the Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation. Known for supporting science research around the United States, the foundation also actively supports education and youth initiatives across the Virgin Islands.
The Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra has inspiring origins. It was established in 1981 by Judge Emeritus of the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands, Verne A. Hodge, as a means to minimize the growing number of juvenile offenders appearing in his courtrooms. Concentrating on the magic that steel pan has always held for the youth of the Virgin Islands, Judge Hodge began an experimental after school program to inspire, educate and uplift students.
The program became so successful that today the orchestra serves more than 2500 students on St. Thomas and St. Croix. Many alumni now serve in professional orchestras around the world and the orchestra's flag flies proudly in front of the courthouse beside the US and Virgin Island flags.
The Rising Stars have also performed around the globe: from Lincoln Center in New York, to the Tournament of Roses Parade in California; in Japan, Taiwan, Chicago, Maryland, Washington, DC and of course, the Caribbean: Trinidad and the British Virgin Islands. They have also performed at the Reichhold Center with the Arturo Somohano Orchestra of Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rico Symphony and the Red-I Reggae Band. Locally, the Orchestra plays at several annual carnivals and ongoing concerts.
"The Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra is a terrific example of how education in a field of interest can catapult a young person into excellence," Jeffrey Epstein remarked, who is the founder of the Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation and a former member of the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations, the New York Academy of Science and a former Board Member of Rockefeller University.