TODAY | February 27, 2013
>>> back now at 8:46 with two young men from chicago enjoying enormous success in a surprising field. nbc's ron mott is here with their story. good morning.
>> it's a really lovely story, natalie. it's about the magill brothers, young african-american men who play clarinet and flute from major classical orchestras here in the u.s. they have highly coveted lead roles in the world where maybe 4% of the musicians are african-american or latino. a brother act unique in the rarefied world of classical music . anthony , who is 33, plays clarinet for the renowned new york metropolitan opera . while demare, four years older, plays lead flute for the seattle symphony orchestra . what is it about your brother's music that make it is special?
>> anthony 's musical voice is very, very clear. his personality shines. it is magnified through his clarinet.
>> my brother is pretty scary growing up when he talked about music and i respected everything he said. i would hear him practicing hours and hours. he was practicing more hours than i think would be considered normal.
>> they grew up in a working class household on the edge of chicago 's more troubled neighborhoods. parents ira, a retired teacher, and demare sr., a former firefighter mortgaged the house five times to pay for music lessons .
>> classical music , music without words as some people in my family would say, i would use it to lull them to sleep.
>> they believe their boys' careers began the moment demare, just 7 at the time, found an old flute in a closet, a flute they're keeping forever.
>> that's a foul right there.
>> reporter: their music really took off at a place where the magills now get rock star treatment, nonprofit that offers free lessons to disadvantage kids after school for nearly 30 years. they say they only felt different when they competed at other music schools .
>> in that context, there was no one that looked like me and i got a kick out of that. especially if i won.
>> reporter: they won a lot and earned scholarships and a chance to perform as teenagers in a very special neighborhood.
>> my television neighbor, demare and anthony magill .
>> renowned cellist yoyo ma asked demare to perform with him at the president's first inaugural.
>> better grades.
>> oh, there you go.
>> now whenever they're in chicago , they try to pass along what they've learned to the next generation. you may not know it, but the world of classical music is quite competitive. hundreds of musicians auditioning for those lead roles and the magill brothers now have. most of those positions have tenure so the magills could be in those prominent orchestra seats for life.
>> they are ground breakers for sure. ron allen , thank you so much.