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You can make music with a boomerang.
Like many young Southern Nevada natives, Alexandria Le was itching to leave town. She took her Las Vegas Academy diploma to New York City for college and a career as a concert pianist that brought her to Carnegie Hall.
After 15 years, she boomeranged back to Southern Nevada last year and created Notes With a Purpose. The nonprofit brings classical music to the ears of at-risk schoolchildren, new mothers, and the homeless.
“Our goal is to bring high-quality music experiences to underprivileged youth and their parents, and underserved adults and to provide really engaging musical experiences,” Le told KNPR's State of Nevada.
The organization does several things to bring music to people who may not have had much exposure to it, including bringing musicians from Carnegie Hall to perform for students in Title 1 schools.
“I import the Carnegie Hall teaching artists because they have been trained a certain way to impact different audiences,” Le said.
She explained that they don't just perform music but the work to draw the audience into the performance and therefore into the power of classical music.
Le also brings local music students to the Las Vegas Rescue Mission for "Wednesdays Live at the Mission."
"[It] is a weekly performance series that we coordinate to have high school student perform for the dinner service at the rescue mission," she said.
The program brings music to homeless and struggling people who may not get to hear live music often, but it also gives a chance for young musicians to get outside their comfort zone.
“What’s wonderful about this evening is I get to see these musicians come out of their shell," Le said, "They’re young musicians. They don’t necessarily have the opportunities to perform as often. They also don’t have the opportunities to connect with their audiences”
She said the students work to break the fourth wall and make classical music accessible. The mission audience is also not as judgemental as a traditional classical music audience might be, which can be freeing for young artists.
Le said her experiences performing at the Rescue Mission helped her push through the first year of difficulties starting a nonprofit.
But school performances and music at the mission are only two of the things Notes with Purpose is doing. It is also part of a Carnegie Hall program called The Lullaby Project.
“We pair a musician with a pregnant woman who is in a challenging circumstance - it could be socially or economically - and we help them co-create a lullaby for their baby,” Le said.
The mom-to-be creates the lyrics or the melody and the musician then works with her to put her intentions into music. The group then records and gifts it back to the mom.
The group kicks off its second season this weekend with “Mimosas & Mozart,” a fundraising concert, on Saturday and “Instrument Factory,” a hands-on young people’s concert at the Windmill Library on Sunday.
Alexandria Le, classical pianist and founder, Notes With a Purpose nonprofit