Welcome From The
President & CEO
City Strings United welcomes you!
City Strings United was founded in response to a need that I perceived in urban Boston. The circumstances of the youth in those areas reflected my own experiences growing up, first in Massachusetts, then in California and Texas. Serendipitously, I was able to take cello lessons at an early age while living in San Diego.
There I performed in youth orchestras, including the San Diego Youth Symphony. The ability to demonstrate my musical skills in a larger setting, coupled with the wonderful guidance from my teacher and mentor, gave me a sense of self-worth. At a summer music camp that I attended, I met Glen Campbell, a cellist in the San Diego Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Campbell taught me to play the cello free of charge for six years.
The cello and the people who allowed me to master this instrument changed my life forever. As an adult, I decided to provide these opportunities that meant so much to me personally to youth in Boston’s inner city. And so, City Strings United was born! Starting with a small group of 12 children in 2012, we have grown to over forty students with plans for further growth in the next few years.
During these years, City Strings United has enjoyed collaborative performances with such respected artists as Walter Beasley, Professor of Music, Berklee College of Music, the Grammy award-winning drummer Terri Lynn Carrington. It has twice been invited by the Museum of Fine Arts to perform at its Community Day Celebration during the Art in Bloom Weekend. Further, City Strings United has opened for the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Community Chamber Concert Series and has participated in the Roxbury Stringfest sponsored by the Celebrity Series of Boston’s Arts for All program, in which it has performed with tabla player Sandeep Das, Castle of Our Skins, and the Guy Mendilow Band.
City Strings United has been recognized by Boston media as well as local social and cultural institutions including: The Boston Globe, New England Cable News, Boston Neighborhood Network, Urban Update, Greater Boston Chapter of the National Council of Negro Women, Black Ministerial Alliance, Mothers for Justice and Equality, The Northeasterners and The New England Arts Group.
The Covid-19 pandemic has been a challenge for everyone, but City Strings United has been resilient. Although our concerts had to be cancelled because it was not feasible to gather in large groups, we successfully switched to remote learning through the Zoom platform. Now in our tenth year, we will continue to provide musical opportunities for Boston’s youth, to foster their growth and development, and to teach the joy of music. We look forward to in person classes and concerts as soon as they are deemed safe.
President & CEO
Bithyah Israel, President & CEO
Doug Rich, Operations Manager
Mikayla Ellis, Program Assistant
Alexia Eichman, Executive Assistant
Rhea Gibson, Assistant Program Director
Wanda Jones, Family Coordinator
Board and Advisors
Ellen Hallett - Chair
Bithyah Israel - President & CEO
Bill Huss - Treasurer
Mona Roberts - Secretary
Peter Cobb, J.D.
Josette C. Goldish
Dr. Cleopatra Knight-Wilkins
City Strings United Advisors: