Nominated by: Douglas McLennan, director, National Arts Journalism Program; founder and editor, ArtsJournal; board of overseers, Curtis Institute of Music
Thompson is a trumpet player who studied at the Curtis Institute of Music and started Play On, Philly!, a kids’ orchestra program in poor areas of Philadelphia. In less than two years, Play On, Philly! has developed a strong following, teaching more than 200 kids for three hours daily. Yo-Yo Ma, Simon Rattle, and other classical-music stars have contributed time to the program. "If I can teach a kid how to play a Beethoven symphony, I absolutely know that kid's life will be better," Thompson has said.
“Stanford is an extraordinary kid who could have had a career in an important orchestra but is impacting the lives of hundreds of families with his program,” McLennan said in an email.