Nico Iskos & Josh Everts

April 2017 - Music aficionados in Edina enjoy no shortage of classical performance opportunities. We are only a short drive from the world-class Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis and The Schubert Club in Saint Paul - and even our own Centennial Lakes Park hosts Concerts in the Park each summer. Until recently, however, such cultural programs were many times beyond the reach of residents homebound in assisted living centers.

Student musicians Nicolas (Nico) Iskos and Josh Everts changed that four years ago.

Do not let "student" deceive you; Nico has played piano, and Josh studied on cello, since each was about 5 years old. Unsurprisingly, the two became fast friends after first meeting in 2010. When the pair entered the ninth grade together at Edina High School, they sought out a way to use their musical talents to fulfill a community service requirement.
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Josh and Nico volunteered their time and played duets at English Rose Suites, a memory care and assisted living center with four locations in Edina. They alternated homes each week and, over the next summer, often put on multiple shows a week.

"Even after our project was completed, we decided to not only continue - but to expand our volunteering to new venues and activities," Nico said.

At the start of the 2015 to 2016 school year, the friends contacted Park Nicollet - Methodist Hospital in Saint Louis Park in hopes of lining up a similar arrangement. Naturally, staff proved more than amenable to the suggestion, and the pair currently play two-hour engagements there each and every week.

"One of the most rewarding aspects of volunteering is seeing how we can affect people in different ways," Josh said. "Some people will compliment us because of a song they recognize, while others mention that they listen to experience new music. We always love it when people tell us why they enjoyed our music!"

As upperclassmen, the pair expanded their community service repertoire even further. In addition to their musical talents, both have a knack for the written word. Nico and Josh are tutors in "Writer's Block," a student-run organization at Edina High School dedicated to helping classmates hone their writing skills. Tutors like Josh and Nico coordinate workshop activities and extracurricular opportunities with the school's English teachers.

When their senior year concludes in a few months, Josh will attend the University of Chicago, while Nico is most likely bound for Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Both intend to pursue careers in the sciences. However, "music and volunteering will certainly remain part of our lives, through college and beyond," noted Josh.