April 1, 2020
Project STEP Names Gabriella Sanna as Its New Exec. Director

Gabriella Sanna
September 23, 2016 — Project STEP, a Boston nonprofit that provides string music training to talented students of color in an effort to correct historic underrepresentation of minority classical musicians, yesterday announced that Gabriella Sanna has been named executive director.

Sanna, who brings 19 years of impressive experience in music education and cultural administration to the jobs, replaces Mary Jaffee who retired earlier this year as the long-time executive director of Project STEP

Dianne Luby, board president of Project STEP (String Training Education Program) said, “Gabriella brings to Project STEP the perfect combination of arts administration experience, leadership skills, and a lifelong passion for music both as a musician herself and as a teacher. She believes strongly that music can change lives and stood out as the person who could build on and continue Project STEP’s long history of exceptional string training and education for children in our community.”

Sanna most recently served for six years as executive director of the Dedham School of Music, where she built the program from the ground up, growing attendance from eight students to 300, strengthening the organization’s community relations, fiscal support, and artistic programs and partnerships.

“I am dedicated to the mission of bringing a stellar music program to people of color so they have a chance at realizing their dream of becoming musicians,” said Sanna. “Throughout my career, I have supported young musicians with opportunities to build their futures as successful people. Music teaches people about discipline, time management and commitment, which are all skills that are needed in life and work.”

A classically trained pianist since the age of 12, Sanna has performed extensively in Europe and in the USA as a soloist and in chamber music ensembles. She grew up in Sardinia, where she studied music for her undergraduate degree before coming to the United States to study at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge.

Prior to the Dedham School of Music, Sanna worked at the Rivers School Conservatory in Weston serving as chair of the chamber music department while teaching piano. She also was the artistic director of the Steinway Society of Massachusetts Piano Competition from 2003-2010.

According to Project STEP, as of 2012, just 5% of orchestra musicians in the United States were African-American or Latino. Studies show long term music education programs, citing those similar to Project STEP as increasing overall academic achievement, literacy and language abilities, communication, graduation rates, and college enrollment, as well as performance skills, and cultural awareness.

Since Project STEP was founded in 1982 by William Moyer, a now-retired Boston Symphony Orchestra personnel manager, all its students have gone on to college or conservatory and 60% of its graduates are now professionally involved in music.

For the year ending June 30, 2015, Project STEP reported $794,000 in revenue, of which $574,000 came from contributions and grants, and $629,000 in expenses, according to its most recently available federal tax filing.

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