Our week with Frank



We had a great time with Frank Rosenwein earlier this month. What an amazing guy! Here's a recording of John Harbison's Snow Country from the performance at Brown University's Cogut Center for the Humanities on December 10. New to all of us, this is some pretty incredible and evocative music, perfect for this time of the year. Enjoy!

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Abreu Fellows Visit, Part Two

As part of their second day at CMW this semester, NEC's Abreu Fellows were able to spend some quality time earlier this month engaging CMW students in musical activities during our weekly All-Play Day programming. We started the day with lunch at the office and an opportunity for the Abreu Fellows to share stories about their recent month-long internship experiences with CMW staff. Several Fellows shared the 3-minute videos that they had created to document their experiences. Then, it was off to  D'Abate Elementary for a very busy afternoon with plenty of teaching artist participation, as evidenced by the following schedule:

Studio hour

Rm 101: Beginners
Rm 103: Chamber music for brass and strings (with Avi, Ben, Jennifer)
Rm 104: Phase II Quartet (Alondra, Alana, Liam, Ian); peer learning through coaching (with Stephanie)
Rm 105: Singing/Choir (with Alysia and Aisha)
Rm 106: String Improvisation/Extended techniques (with Julie)
Rm 107: Conducting: Phase III ensemble plus two aspiring conductors (with Jose Luis)
Rm 108: Advanced violin master class (with David)

Ensemble hour

Beginners (Sara, Ealain, joined by Alysia and Aisha)
Blue Notes (Jesse and Ariana, with Avi guest conducting)
Green Magics (Adrienne, Emmy, with Jennifer visiting, Julie playing)
Yellow Harmony Hornets (Robin, with Jose Luis conducting, and Stephanie and David playing)
Music Lab (Minna, with Ben)

 We're looking forward to welcoming the Abreu Fellows back once more in May.

-Heath Marlow, Managing Director

Ferdinand the Bull

This weekend, Jesse and I had the great pleasure of performing The Story of Ferdinand as guests of the Children’s Library at The Providence Athenaeum. This colourful piece by David Rideout is for violin and narrator and is based on Munro Leaf’s charming book. The gentle hero Ferdinand is a strong bull with a big heart, who would much rather smell the flowers under his favourite cork tree than fight in the bullfights of Madrid.


The performance featured a jumbo-sized version of Munro Leaf’s book with vibrant illustrations. Not only did the youngest members of our audience have some fine literary observations, they also gave us a virtuoso display of bovine sound effects. After the performance Jesse and I hosted a “petting zoo” so the children could try out some violins for themselves.


We would especially like to thank Children’s Librarian, Lindsay Shaw, for hosting us. In the spring, we hope to take the show on the road and with any luck, Ferdinand may soon be appearing at an elementary classroom near you!

-Ealain McMullin, Fellow

Plan On, Philly!


Stanford Thompson, a graduate of the Curtis Institute (trumpet) and the Abreu Fellows Program at the New England Conservatory, has been hard at work developing Play On, Philly!, an El Sistema-inspired program in West Philadelphia. Stanford participated in a panel discussion on the first day of last month's Music and Civil Society symposium, and several students and parents from his program were featured on the second day.

Click here to learn about Play On, Philly! in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

“Opened my ears, eyes, and heart…”

[Excerpted from an email received from a Music and Civil Society participant]

I wanted to write to tell you about the remarkable event that closed my weekend [after attending Music and Civil Society]. I randomly chose Binghmaton, NY as the destination for my Saturday night drive because it lies roughly halfway between Providence and Cleveland. I arrived in a strange town in total darkness and hastily checked into my hotel room. The next morning I packed up and hiked the stairs down to the lobby. I decided to take the time the make a waffle before heading out.

I tend to be slightly wary when approached by strangers, but the central New Yorkers I encountered were so friendly that I soon found myself engaged in breakfast conversation with Johnny, an oil industry worker. As I picked up my viola to leave, he asked about the instrument. I told him it was a viola, explained that it was the alto relative of the soprano-range violin, and popped open the case so he could have a look.  

"Play it!" he said.
I didn't see any reason not to, other than the flimsy excuse that I hadn't played in four days due to travel. I took out my instrument and played the first half of a Bach Sarabande. Johnny begin clapping instantly, and I was surprised to hear that I was being applauded in stereo – one of the hotel workers had come in to listen and was clapping from where she sat behind me. I was taken aback: they were both overjoyed to hear my 30-second sound bite of out-of-shape Bach. I thanked them, bid farewell to Johnny, and moved out into the lobby. 

A middle-aged man was sitting at a computer in the lobby, and as I passed he asked me if I was auditioning for the symphony. I told him that if there was an orchestra with viola openings, I would probably eventually audition there. I learned from our brief conversation that we both hailed from Ohio (Cincinnati) and had ties to Ohio State. I finally went to the hotel counter to check out, and the hotel employee (a girl of about my age) told me that she missed the sound of a stringed instrument. Apparently her sister had played the violin before a falling out with a teacher prompted her to replace the fiddle with the guitar. If I was ever back in town, she said, I should check out the Tri-County Youth Orchestra.

I left feeling amazed that a few spontaneous bars of Bach had served to create connections between me and no fewer than four strangers. These individuals had each appreciated the craft in some way and felt that it had opened the door to conversation. I went from being a cranky breakfast attendee to an artist in thirty seconds flat, and felt like an ambassador for music in the minutes following.

As I rolled out of Binghamton, I couldn't believe how perfectly my breakfast had summed up our weekend's discussions. I believe that society did become more civil for the occupants of that hotel lobby on Sunday morning. I feel fortunate to have participated in a workshop that opened my ears, eyes, and heart to the communicative and empathetic capacities of our art form.

All my best,

Mellon Foundation grant awarded

Earlier this month, we were elated to receive word from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that CMW will receive $257,750 over three years to continue work on the projects that we have been successfully developing since 2009 with support from the Mellon Foundation.


This grant will help CMW continue to engage in "strategic collaborations that will extend the impact of our educational model in the fields of classical music, arts education, and social justice." Goals include:

1. expanding CMW’s capacity to share its model with musicians and teaching artists nationwide;

2. supporting the proliferation of CMW-inspired programs; and

3. placing CMW at the center of a national and international dialogue about the role of arts education, the role of the musician in contemporary society, and the intersection of music and social justice.

Read the press release about our 2009 Mellon Foundation grant award here.

Check out a variety of Mellon Foundation-funded activities:
1. Music and Civil Society symposium
2. Institute for Musicianship and Public Service
3. Fellowship Program participants
4. Third-year Fellowship
5. Collaboration with Brown University's Cogut Center for the Humanities

Here's a link to a collection of Jori's photos of Mellon Foundation-funded activities.

Thank you Mellon Foundation!

-Heath Marlow, Managing Director

Frank Rosenwein residency

This week, CMW is thrilled to welcome oboist Frank Rosenwein to Providence for a residency that will include plenty of music-making with the CMW Players. Frank has been a CMW fan and supporter for a long time, and this is his first visit to CMW.


I first met Frank in the Wild Ginger Philharmonic about twelve years ago. If I remember the apochryphal story correctly, the orchestra was already on board a chartered bus preparing to depart New York City for a week-long rehearsal retreat when we found out that one of our two oboists had dropped out. Everyone on the bus was asked to quickly brainstorm the names of possible replacements (who could be immediately available for an unpaid week of rehearsing all day long with less than luxurious accommodations).

Someone offered, "How about Frank Rosenwein from the Cleveland Institute of Music?" Turns out Frank just happened to be in Manhattan at that moment getting repair work done on his oboe. A couple of hours later, Frank was miraculously aboard the bus! Or, at least, that's how I remember it. I'll check with Frank this week about my accuracy.

Wild ginger
Wild Ginger wind section with Frank (at left) in 1999 (photo: Bill Irwin)

In 2011, Frank holds down one of the most prestigious orchestral positions in the country as principal oboe of The Cleveland Orchestra. No one who heard Frank play back in 1999 is the least bit surprised.

Repertoire for the week:

Boccherini Quintet No. 6 for oboe and strings
Corigliano Arioso for oboe and strings
Harbison Snow Country
Milhaud Les reves de Jacob

I hope you'll be able to catch one of our three performances this week with Frank.

-Heath Marlow, Managing Director