Banff photos

A few photos of the Providence String Quartet conducting an "Introduction to the String Quartet" demonstration at the local elementary school in Banff, Alberta earlier this month as part of their rehearsal retreat week.




Photos courtesy of Martin Finnerty at The Banff Centre.

Understanding “silence”

On Friday, January 18, Mark and I proudly made our first appearance in the CMW Workshop circuit. Not only was it the workshop debut of our electroacoustic duo, Mem1, but it was also the first time CMW participants were exposed to one of my favorite composers, John Cage. We performed Cage’s seminal work, 4’33" in which the musicians on stage are directed to NOT play for four minutes and thirty-three seconds.


When I had announced that we were going to perform this piece I saw Minna’s jaw drop open. It was not until then did I realize that this was a potentially dangerous situation: two experimental musicians sitting in a room full of energetic children holding expensive instruments, with us doing absolutely nothing, no matter what happened. As we started the piece, I became somber, staring straight ahead, barely moving (except to start and stop the stopwatch) and appearing as though in a trance (as noted by one of the confused parents). My partner Mark experienced something quite different. I heard more giggling from him than anyone else in the room. He was fully entertained by all the excitement in the room during the piece: strings plucking, nervous shuffling, toilets flushing, "The loudest performance of 4’33" ever!" he excitedly announced to me afterwards.

We were both EXTREMELY impressed with our young CMW audience because THEY TOTALLY GOT IT! I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but their reactions were more than I could have ever dreamed. When I asked if that piece we just performed was actually music, I heard an astounding "YES!" These kids, ages 7-18 mind you, totally understood the theory that there really is no such thing as silence, and that everything deserves to be listened to.

-Laura Thomas-Merino, CMW Cello Fellow

“Dence Str”

The "Dence Str" (see photo below) had a great weekend in NYC, presenting their "Dvorak in America" program at Peter Norton Symphony Space and the Third Street Music School Settlement.

  1. We enjoyed seeing the Providence String Quartet's name in lights outside Symphony Space on the electronic event banner.
  2. Jesse warming up backstage before the concert with his 17-page treatise on "Dvorak in America" in the foreground.
  3. On stage with bass-baritone (and CMW parent) Frank Ward performing music by H. T. Burleigh
  4. Jam session on stage after the concert with teens from the Harlem Children's Zone TRUCE program and teens from The Brotherhood Sister Sol, another wonderful Harlem program that the PSQ visited last January [see blog posting here].
  5. PSQ performing Dvorak at the Third Street Music School Settlement where Jessie spent her youngest years as a budding musician.
  6. Group shot with Antonin Dvorak, a highlight of Jesse's carefully planned walking tour of Dvorak's life on the lower East Side.






Fan mail

Sometimes I worry that some might be bothered by receiving a Community MusicWorks monthly email update in their inbox. Then we get an email like this:

Hi Sebastian! Hi Minna! Though we’ve only made it to one concert since I met you two, I just had to take a minute to tell you how much I appreciate staying on the mailing list…

I get sooooo many emails in my line of work that I sometimes think: "oh, I should just go past this and not keep it in the in-box." I’m soooo glad I did. I always end up reading almost every word of the news, but then this time there are so many links that I want to go back to, that I have to keep it a while longer.

Great to see all the AMAZING activities and response from the community. So sorry about the break-in but glad to see the rallying support.

Keep up the WONDERFUL work you are doing. We aren’t financially able to support you, but always know that our thoughts and moral support are behind you!


So, with that in mind, we’ve got a special conference announcement email on its way to you soon… enjoy!

-Heath Marlow, CMW staff

View from a Mac

How was your holiday break? We had one more than expected!

Community MusicWorks staff returned to find we’d had a break-in here at the office, and our main computer and a videocamera were stolen. Luckily, or perhaps just plain wisely, we’d backed up our data online and, thanks to insurance and the help of some tech savvy friends, we’ll be up and running in no time.

However, this incident played out the transformation theme we’d touted as we reached year ten. Community MusicWorks turned an incidence of theft into an opportunity for members of our community to pitch in with support: the torch wielding dudes at The Steel Yard, who are creating custom ornamental door reinforcements, our lovely and talented board member Paula Bodo, who left a family outing to be first on the scene for the Providence police, our volunteer tech guru Gabriel Read who painstakingly retrieved our data during his school vacation, J.J. Jacobson, who, dressed as indie Santa, donated the videocamera in the first place and helped with our insurance claim, and the quick response of our fantastic landlords Gary and Teresa, among others.


CMW’s Top Model

The cherry on top of our make-lemonade-from-lemons cocktail is our new iMac and it’s popular feature Photo Booth


Sebastian and Josh count to four

This organization has witnessed and participated in the comfort and spirit of community support in the face of adversity more than once this past year. For that gift we are truly, truly thankful. So, in the event our computer thief is surfing the blog on our five-year-old slow-as-molasses stolen PC, I say: Take that!! …or just try to.


Minna glows in the New Year


-Liz Cox, CMW staff

News from Chloe

Attention Chloe’s viola students: Chloe and Kareem’s daughter Suha was born at 12:50 a.m. on January 5th weighing 7 lbs. 13 ounces. Chloe and Kareem are doing fine, and Suha is an amazing baby! Here she is (pictured with her aunt Tai):


New Year’s News


Happy 2008 to everyone!

While the Providence String Quartet and Minna spend the week on rehearsal retreat in an extremely beautiful northern location (hint: think mountains, skiing, elk), here are a few tidbits to share from Providence:

1. Remember all the commotion about Gustavo Dudamel and El Sistema? (If not, see my November post.) WGBH has posted audio from the panel discussion at the New England Conservatory which includes Sebastian, Mark Churchill, Steve Seidel, and a number of other folks who have interesting things to say about whether/how El Sistema might conceivably work in the US. Moderated by Eric Booth, who you hear very skillfully greasing the wheels of the conversation and keeping the energy level high.

2. Pianist and CMW adviser Jonathan Biss released a Beethoven CD in October that is wonderful. Check it out here. Speaking of Jonathan, did you hear his performance on Saint Paul Sunday almost a year ago?

3. Is everyone aware of Music Haven, the neighborhood-based program in New Haven, CT, inspired by Community MusicWorks and run by the Vinca String Quartet? Their inaugural Performance Party on December 16 was reportedly a big success!

4. Kudos to the Interaction Institute for Social Change. Gibran Rivera visited CMW in the fall to facilitate a fantastic full-day staff workshop that still lingers in our minds…

5. There’s a new Providence String Quartet on the scene. If you live in North Carolina, don’t get confused. And that goes for the Providence Quartet in South Carolina as well!

6. Do you have some time on your hands? A few interesting (and sometimes provocative) music-related blogs I like to visit:
The Rest Is Noise
Greg Sandow (especially his post about classical music press coverage)
Jason Heath’s Double Bass Blog (especially his ten-part series on freelance musicians)


-Heath Marlow, CMW staff