NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The InterSchool Orchestras of New York gives public school students a chance to learn how to play classical instruments and perform at major concert halls across the city.

Sunday, they’re performing at Symphony Space for their annual winter celebration.

The nonprofit organization started in the 1970s with just 20 children in one orchestra. Now, there are four complete orchestras for kids from second grade to 12th grade.

Karen Geer, executive director of InterSchool Orchestras, says children from across the city can send a video to the organization for the opportunity to get involved.

Geer also says the organization gives out over a quarter of a million dollars in financial aid each year.

Zachariah Lee-Whitfield, a senior from Washington Heights, is one of the talented young musicians in the organization.

“ISO gives me another look on music. It’s not just orchestral, classical music. It’s just different music, and it’s another opportunity for me to perform,” he said.

“The arts are so important because it’s a place where kids get to learn how to work together. They learn how to focus, and they learn how to practice, learn that you can practice an hour a day and it’s meaningful for other kids and the rest of the orchestra, that what you do is important,” Geer said.

To learn more about InterSchool Orchestras of New York, visit, and for more information about their winter celebration, visit


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