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Angelica Hairston is a graduate student from Atlanta, Georgia. She is studying Music Industry Leadership and has been playing the harp for 10 years. Before studying at Northeastern she earned a Bachelors degree in Music & Harp Performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Canada. On December 6 she is performing as part of a holiday recital at the John D. O’Bryant African-American Institute.

What did you do before graduate school and why did you decide to attend Northeastern?

I really enjoyed my time at the Royal Conservatory of Music and learned to musically convey the intricacies and nuances of playing the harp. But while I was studying as an international student in Toronto, many social issues began to come to the surface in the US, forcing me to think far beyond my conservatory mindset. The cases of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner, to name a few, captured national headlines. The heightening of racial tensions influenced me to create opportunities for communication surrounding these issues using music as a common language.

That passion has truly been nurtured at Northeastern, where I’m learning skills to help me create more opportunities for minority musicians and within the minority community at large. From the first time I visited campus, I was struck by the environment of innovation. It was such a unique feeling to be in a place where students are encouraged to pour into their visions and create opportunities for themselves. The Northeastern advisors and professors also go above and beyond to create a space for students to adapt their degree programs to support their entrepreneurial spirit.

I’m now a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Graduate Fellow and I’m learning each day how I can challenge the vast underrepresentation of minorities in the classical music profession. I hope to use the knowledge that I gain in the Music Industry Leadership program to create platforms for minority musicians to perform and thrive on and off stage. I want to help create a safe space to discuss social issues and present tangible solutions by using chamber music as a model of society in which members work in solidarity toward a common goal of progress, acceptance, and unity.


How has the music industry leadership program changed your ideas for the future?

The Music Industry Leadership Program has allowed me to diversify my knowledge and understanding of the rapidly changing music industry. Being an effective leader in the nonprofit or for-profit music industry involves much more than reading music or playing an instrument. I’m thankful that through Northeastern’s MMIL program, I am gaining insight into topics such as planning and vision, funding the arts, marketing, intellectual property law, and organizational stability. The program challenges me to think critically, research effectively, and generate creative ideas that are innovative and also attainable.

AHairston_Urban Youth Harp Ensemble

Tell us about the holiday concert on December 6

I’ll be partnering with the Boston Public Schools to present an upcoming recital on campus on Dec 6th at 7:30 pm at the John D. O’Bryant African-American Institute. I’ll be playing with musicians from Boston University, Boston Conservatory and Cori Bodley, AMD’14,an alumni of the Music Industry Leadership program. I’m also ecstatic to share the stage with some talented young musicians from Josiah Quincy Orchestra Program; a program inspired by El Sistema, the Venezuelan initiative that uses music education as a vehicle for social change within underserved communities. Admission to the recital is free and guests are encouraged to bring school supply donations (pencils, paper, tape, etc…) that will go toward these deserving students. More information about the concert can be accessed here.