Lockerman-Bundy's principal, Kimberly Hill, said the music helps her students "overcome some of the barriers they face on the outside" of the school. "It is exciting just to see all my students participating in the performing arts," she said.
While OrchKids may hope to grow a few world-class musicians and a new generation of concertgoers and classical music lovers, it is more aimed at the BSO's commitment to extend its reach into the neighborhoods around it.
Nick Skinner, director of operations for OrchKids, said the program "is using music education as a vehicle for social change."
For Skinner, the most remarkable change in students is how they now describe their futures. When the program first started, the third-graders would say their goal was to get through middle school, but now they see themselves graduating from college.
The program has been a gift to parents as well as children, said Asia's mother, Lynette Fields, who went to Washington and watched online as Asia and the program's artistic director, Dan Trahey, accepted the award. OrchKids was one of 12 after-school arts and humanities programs to receive the 2013 award.
Fields said her daughter asked Michelle Obama what instrument she played, and when the first lady told her it's the piano, Asia invited her to come to Baltimore to play with OrchKids.
"They really love it. I don't have to make them participate in it," said Fields, whose daughter attends Franklin Square Elementary/Middle.
Ten-year-old Joshua Grandy says it is not easy learning to play an instrument or coming together with people you may not like to play with.
"Through those almost five years it has been very hard and emotional at the same time," he said. "I would be ready to fight, and then we would perform. After we performed, we were lifted."
Joshua, a decidedly precocious boy who can hum Bach, has performed at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall a few miles away and has been to Carnegie Hall. He dreams of someday walking into a conservatory of music for college with an instrument in his hand.
He's shaken hands with Ravens players and Gov. Martin O'Malley. (He's decided he will use his left hand to shake hands with regular people because he used his right hand to shake the hand of the governor.)
Alsop hopes 50,000 city children will be singing in a chorus or playing a musical instrument every year and that playing and loving classical music will be second nature even in the heart of the city's most desolate neighborhoods.
"I think in large measure when I arrived in Baltimore, it felt like the symphony wasn't connecting to the community on some fundamental levels. I believe the arts are an incredible opportunity, especially for young people, to gain self-esteem," Alsop said.