How Vivi Got Tae Into CMW

Tae Ortiz — now a high school junior, and CMW’s administrative intern — has been a CMW participant since the first days of the program. Here, Tae reminisces about how she discovered CMW, and her first impressions of Sebastian and Minna.
— Chloe (blog caretaker)

"I clearly remember the first day I met Sebastian Ruth and Minna Choi. They were young, a little inexperienced, but still looked like they loved what they were doing. I was in the fourth grade and attending Reservoir Avenue Elementary School with current Community Musicworks cello student, Viviana Diaz.

"I was the new girl at that elementary school and had just got out of another school with a very poor music program. Before I transferred to Reservoir Avenue, I was at Camden Avenue Elementary School. I started playing the violin in the third grade at Camden, known as Harry Kizarian today. I transferred to Reservoir Avenue elementary school wanting to continue playing the violin, but I never thought that I would ever have that chance again.

"My mom had a new job and we had just moved right off of Reservoir Avenue. My parents needed a babysitter for my brother and I, and right away I remembered that Viviana was talking to me about an after school program at the West End Community Center. About how fun and free it was, but I looked at her and thought that I wanted to do something fun in my spare time. Not just run around with some snotty girls, in a crayola-box-smelling room and have about 150 kids screaming everywhere! It was my mom’s only choice, so I ended up going.

"One day after school ended, the program van picked me and some other kids up in front of the school to go back to the West End. As soon as I got there, Mr. Goode, the program director made an announcement to any kids who were interested in playing a musical instrument to please join where Minna and Sebastian were standing. I thought about it twice and slowly moved a little closer to the group until I was sitting in the group with the other kids on the floor. Viviana was playing with something, but I saw she was very interested in the instruments also.

"I watched Sebastian explain to us what the violin was and every single detail about it. From the scroll down to the button next to the chin rest, I was amazed about how much I didn’t know about the violin even after I’ve played it at Camden. Right away I knew I had to get in, and it was all down hill from there. Of course after going into middle school, I felt like quitting at times and letting everything go, but then I realized it was just a phase most people go through.

"To this day I still thank Viviana Diaz for being my friend and telling me about the West End, which brought me to the Community Musicworks family. So much thanks to Viviana Diaz because if it wasn’t for her, who knows what I would be doing!"
–Tae Ortiz


Still Thinking About Bach

Sheri Wills, the wonderful artist who collaborated with the Providence String Quartet to create "Art of the Fugue / Light of Bach" has sent me a five-minute Quicktime video that shows a little bit of footage from the Athenaeum performance and quite a bit of nice footage from the West End Community Center. 


Note that the "staging" is considerably different in each performance. The Quartet had been concerned that if they sat directly below the images project on the screen, they would become a pit orchestra. During the first performance, it became abundantly clear that this was would not be the case, and that a different set up would help to create a more unified experience for the audience.

–Heath Marlow, CMW staff

Art of the Fugue/Light of Bach

Last weekend, the Providence String Quartet collaborated with photographer and digital media artist Sheri Wills in a performance called Art of the Fugue/Light of Bach. On Thursday, the group performed for a sold out crowd at the Providence Athenaeum; on Friday, they were featured at the West End Community Center, after a spaghetti dinner for the community. At the West End Community Center, the quartet was also joined by bassist Max Zeugner for a performance of Dvorak’s quintet for strings Op. 77.
Chloe (blog caretaker)

Some reactions:

"It is our pleasure to support Community MusicWorks in any way we can. We wish we could do more. The work you are doing fills a major gap in American culture and American lives."
–audience member at Athenaeum

"The Bach at the West End Center Friday night was one of the most moving moments of Bach in my life, for music, for setting, for context, for the future. Many, many heart-felt thanks."
–Charles, audience member at WECC

"Some of the nicest playing came in the two triple fugues, which use three different subjects. There was a nice sense of thrust and energy to the playing…"
–Channing Gray, Providence Journal


Explore the neighborhood!

Heath Marlow, CMW staff member extraordinaire, has created this fabulous interactive map of CMW’s neighborhoods. Click on any of the brightly colored symbols on the map for more information about the site (for example, you can find out where Sara gets her daily–or is that hourly?–coffee fix). A listing of all the spots included on the map can be found in the navigation bar on the left of the map page.

Once you’ve explored the street map version, be sure to check out the satellite and hybrid versions by clicking on the links in the upper right corner of the map page. You can even zoom in for a bird’s eye view of the office!

Chloe Kline (blog caretaker)

Rehearsing Dvorak

Too bad that this evening’s Providence String Quartet performance and fixed price dinner event at Al Forno was postponed (until Fall ’06). Maybe the silver lining is that, since Jesse’s Sunday evening flight back from the American String Teachers Association conference in Kansas City was canceled and he was forced to sleep in a Chicago airport lounge last night, he’ll be well rested by the time the three performances at the end of the week come around.

With the free evening, the Providence Quartet was able to work in some extra rehearsal time on the Dvorak Quintet with visiting double bassist extraordinaire Max Zeugner.  Of course, additional rehearsal time also necessitates pizza and other diversions in the office…

(Sicilia’s Pizzeria on Federal Hill is not quite Al Forno, but it’s still pretty excellent pizza in its own right.)

-Heath Marlow, CMW staff



William Stalnaker workshop

We had a remarkable horn player this week for our workshop. William
Stalnaker is from Oregon. He is obviously a superb teacher. In one
hour he laid out in the simplest, most accessible, and engaging
manner a number of principles about practicing. He succeeded in
making the process fascinating, engaged us in discovery as we tried
to do certain movements simultaneously or to see what it took to
manage a tongue twister; generally he held us all in rapt attention.
(All includes youth ages 7 to 17, faculty, guests, parents, Board
members.) It was masterful.

As with all good teaching Stalnaker managed the rich content in his
talk with effective pacing, the skillful ordering of the material,
and a fluid presentation. Explanation was balanced with hands-on
experimentation, and the didactic was off-set by the personal. He
spoke as if addressing peers, including as he referenced a scholarly
article of 1956 (Miller) which established the principle of "7 plus
or minus two" as a way of introducing the concept of "clustering" ,
– or focusing on a limited passage that needs improvement.

Periodically he would return to the simple overhead that kept us
focused on the three areas where improvement occurs : the body, the
notes, and the music. At the end of the hour he asked the students
to define what practice is, and they came up with five principles
that his talk had illuminated but not listed. It was clear they had
been listening.

William Stalnaker is a tall, white haired man, with an easy dignity
and straight forward manner. He started off the workshop by taking a
couple of what looked like loops of tubing from his pocket. They
turned out to be his travelling French Horn, and for about two
minutes he made the most gorgeous sounds on it. There was no
question about his authority!

–Karen Romer, CMW Board member