Despite the gloomy economic environment, an outpouring of private generosity is making it possible for 18-year-old Josh Coyne, a gifted black musician, to enroll in New York’s Manhattan School of Music next month.
Josh, the adopted son of a single mother, graduated in June from Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Md.
Two months ago, Josh feared that his dream of studying music composition at the Manhattan School would be dashed by poverty. He is one of only two entering students admitted to study composition.
The conservatory had given him a $25,000 scholarship, and he had received several types of government grants, but there was a gap of $16,000 in his budget. A year at the Manhattan School costs about $53,000.
The conservatory expected Josh’s mother to cover the balance by taking out a Direct Parent Plus loan from the Education Department. But her salary made her ineligible. Josh could not get a private bank loan, because no one in his family is eligible to cosign.
I published a column in The Washington Examiner in June about Josh because I felt it was a tragedy that such a talented young man should be denied the best musical education. Josh plays the violin, viola, saxophone and piano, and already has composed ambitious musical works.
From West Africa to the west coast of America, people who read about him responded with contributions and with commissions for musical compositions, making it possible for Josh to pay his way by employing his talents. The mix of people who have come forward to help Josh pay his tuition is a testament to the generosity of so many people in America and elsewhere.
Josh has been commissioned by Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., to compose a work for full chorus and chamber orchestra for their upcoming 150th anniversary celebration. The church hosted a concert last week and donated the proceeds to Josh’s scholarship fund.
Josh received a commission to compose a work to honor a military hero, and contracts to compose two different works for weddings. Chamber Opera Chicago, a professional nonprofit opera company, has made a substantial contribution to the Manhattan School of Music on Josh’s behalf. Josh was told to pack his bags and go — and stop worrying.
America is the land of opportunity. If you work hard, you can often succeed. America also has extraordinarily kind people. Opportunity and kindness work well together. Just ask Josh Coyne — you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Examiner columnist Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.