Lauren Latessa, recent Fellowship Program graduate, sums up her experience at CMW over the past two years:
I clearly remember the first time I heard about Community MusicWorks’ Fellowship Program. I was in the music library at Peabody, and a friend emailed the link with the subject, “this would be perfect for you”. It was around this time that I was realizing a traditional music career was not for me. Instead of devoting all my time to refining my technical abilities, I wanted to also address those questions that keep musicians up at night. Questions like: What is the point of our artistic endeavors? How can we make this music relevant to a new generation? What is a musician’s role in society? Even from that first email, I could see that CMW was an organization actively involved in addressing those questions. So I started following CMW. I scoured the website and read all of Maxine Greene’s philosophy. I celebrated Sebastian’s well-earned MacArthur award and I read the blog when the students traveled to Washington D.C. Eventually I came to Providence to attend CMW’s Institute for Musicianship and Public Service (IMPS). By the time I came to IMPS I was in love with the organization and mission. While my colleagues at school dreamed of landing that amazing orchestra job, I dreamed of becoming a fellow at CMW.
My first few months in Providence were pretty surreal. It was shocking how much time I spent moving chairs, packing snacks and setting alarms. I came with my lofty questions, but quickly learned that lofty questions are only answered through grit, hardwork and silly details. At first I couldn’t see the relationship between this day-to-day grind and my questions. Then, slowly my students opened their lives to me. Their parents became my friends and I learned their stories. I played my first concert at RISD and developed relationships with CMW’s wonderful board members. I began to understand the inside jokes at staff meeting. I coached the Sweet Potatoes, an adult amateur trio comprised of CMW board members and parents. Through these experiences, the many layers of CMW’s community became clear to me. As my time at CMW went on I continued to see the versatility, depth and strength of this community. From watching our students interact with each other, their families and faculty it became clear to me that the power of this community was much greater than any of its individuals. The most powerful example of this was the performance of Gonzalo Grau's "Fantasia de Guayaba Habanera". The rehearsals the week before the performance were some of the most focused and exciting rehearsals that I’ve been in. Our Phase II students, the CMW Players and all of our incredible guest artists rose to the challenge of the piece and created something magical that we never could have achieved as individuals.
The ending of this fellowship was just as surreal as the beginning. While the reality of my two years here didn’t always live up to my fantasy, every moment helped me chase those questions that have thus far defined my career. No two days were ever the same! The silly details never went away, but I was continually energized by the people around me. I think back on my questions and I am so excited by what CMW has shown me. This is a place that promotes joy, understanding and acceptance. In a world where we are often defined by our differences, CMW looks for our commonalities. At CMW, classical music is our common thread. It connects us to each other in ways we did not think were possible. That gives more meaning to my profession than I could ever have hoped for. Thank you CMW community for welcoming me in and showing me this possibility! I will miss you all!
–Lauren Latessa, Cello Fellow '12-'14