Community Day: Mr. Barracuda’s New Shoes

CMW's students and teachers gathered recently for Community Day, a celebratory start to the new season of lessons that included music, food and games like Illustrated Telephone, which Rhiannon describes below.

Community Day was an exciting day for me, starting my second year of the Fellowship. It was great to see so many familiar faces, to reconnect with all of the friends that I've made in the last year, and see how so many students have grown over the summer. I can't believe it's only been three months and some of them have sprouted like trees! After just a year, it feels like a homecoming to be back in the TAPA cafeteria surrounded by students and parents.

To give everyone a sample of the fun we had with group games before going to our first ensemble meetings, I saved some of the finished pages from our game of 'Illustrated Telephone.' The rules of the game: One player begins by writing a descriptive sentence and passing the paper to their right. The next player's task is to draw a picture based on the sentence handed to them, then folds the paper and passes it to the right so that the next player sees only the picture and has to write a descriptive sentence based on the picture. The cycle continues all the way around the circle–there's no limit to the number of players, and each page passes until it's filled up. As you will see, hilarity ensues!

Unsurprisingly, many of the sentences centered around instruments, with the anticipation of impending music-making hanging in the air. Here is one that stayed remarkably on-topic despite a number of creative variations: ​


We had so many players, we continued on another page so everyone could get a chance to play:


​Not all of the sentences were music-themed. Some were just good fun to draw and write. This one features my own exquisite artwork, but I'm too shy to say which drawing is mine: ​


This one, though, was my favorite. It has everything–a great subject, vivid illustrations, and a surprise plot twist! ​


On the back of the page, the final sentence reads:

"Mr. Barracuda is happy about his new shoes."

I have a feeling it's going to be a good year.

–Rhiannon Banerdt, Fellow

Meet the Fellows

This Fall, Community MusicWorks welcomes new Fellows to our team! 


Violist Hannah Ross recently completed her Masters of Music at the Juilliard School in New York City. She is an active performer and dedicated teacher, and moved to Providence after spending a summer abroad in Tanzania and Denmark. In Tanzania, Hannah completed her fifth summer co-directing and working in Art Powers Arusha, a student-run, multidisciplinary outreach group which she helped to found. Since 2009, the Art Powers Arusha team has been supporting and encouraging students’ personal development and individuality throughout the Arusha community through a curriculum of performing arts.

At the beginning of their Fellowship, all new fellows are asked to respond in writing to questions about the upcoming Fellowship experience. When asked what drew her to Community MusicWorks, Hannah wrote, “I very much believe in sharing my love of music with others, particularly in the fields of teaching and playing chamber music. CMW offers both of these opportunities for fellows to learn and share together. I am also interested in non-profit work, which I hope to learn about in my time here.”

Asked about what other things she looks forward to in the Fellowship: “I'm really looking forward to meeting all of the students! Meeting people from all walks of life is what I love the most about the world. I think each person in the world can learn something from every person they meet, and I'm excited to see what my students and I will learn from each other.”

As Hannah settles in to her new home in Providence, she also confides that “at the age of 23 and 3/4, I’ve joined the Millennial generation with the purchase of my first smart phone.” In her free time, she enjoys knitting scarves to be worn during polar vortexes, as well as baking a variety of desserts to be shared with friends. She also loves writing snail mail letters to her closest friends, a hobby she began before email took over the world.



Cellist Clara Yang recently received her Doctor of Musical Arts in cello performance from Rice University. While at Rice, she collaborated with the Watercolor Art Society in Houston and lead six workshops and an interactive performance displaying children’s art works for the Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers at the Texas Children’s Hospital. Having witnessed firsthand the positive influence music can have on individuals and their community, Clara believes that such forms of teaching and outreach are an integral part of music education.

Clara is also an active and accomplished performer and is currently a member of the Ardelia Trio with whom she performs educational concerts and performances for diverse audiences. Clara is enthusiastic to join the Community MusicWorks team, and in particular looks forward to “learning from the other fellows and staff, to building strong teacher-student relationships with my students, and learning more about what goes into building and sustaining a program like this.”

Clara was drawn to CMW because “the idea of reaching out to the community through music in a much more direct and influential way is really inspiring.” She hopes to search and seek out opportunities to create or join projects inspired and modeled by CMW in the future.

Clara also looks forward to getting to know the CMW community and people, and has joined husband Tristen, a medical resident, in Providence. When she is not teaching or performing, Clara loves listening to jazz, finding good eats and exploring Providence.

-Minna Choi, Fellowship Program Director

Welcome to Season 18!


Welcome to our 18th season! Community MusicWorks was founded on the question of how musicians living and working in an urban community could make a significant positive impact, both on the community and on the art form itself. In the 2014-15 season we have a special opportunity to deepen this inquiry through a major grant from ArtPlace America, a national funding initiative looking to stimulate the field of “creative place-making,” the notion that the arts can transform places for the better. We are excited for an organization-wide inquiry this season into what it means to inhabit a place as musicians and with music.

Inhabit is a thread that you will see presented in various ways through out the season. From a series of informal concerts at the Friendship Café in South Providence to a series at our CMW storefront and pop-up events in Olneyville, we will be exploring how participants begin to see a place differently after experiencing special musical events that bring people from diverse backgrounds into community.

In the music we play this year, you can expect to hear us exploring the notion of place. How do we know something about a place through hearing its music? How does this temporal art form provide an unusually rich opportunity to connect us to someone else’s lived experience?

Highlights include a reprise of the wildly energetic Fantasia con Guayaba Habanera, the violin concerto CMW commissioned in 2013 based in Afro-Cuban themes and rhythms. We’ll be performing this in New York City in October, taking the energy of our Providence premiere on the road—please join us! November marks the return of the beloved annual Bach concert at the John Carter Brown (JCB) Library on the Brown University campus, this year including a work from the Americas, reflecting the Americana mission of the JCB Library. We will explore what it meant to composers of the baroque era to be writing in Latin America, far from the European capitals, and proudly honing a local style.

CMW continues its commitment to commissioning new works, featuring a new piece by Ken Ueno, made possible by a grant from the MAP Fund—a competitive national commissioning fund. Ken’s piece will be based in the RISD Museum’s recently re-opened Buddha gallery, and will allow the audience to experience how a piece composed for a particular place opens that place to new experiences, and also carries that place with it when performed elsewhere.

And culminating the season will be a concert commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act (1964). We are excited to bring back Daniel Bernard Roumain, violinist, composer, hip hop & classical artist extraordinaire, to lead his “Rosa Parks Symphony” with CMW professional and student musicians. The same concert will feature a newly commissioned work by former CMW musician Jessie Montgomery, now a rising star in the composition world.

This alongside a rich season of works spanning the 18th to 21st centuries, in chamber music and orchestra formats, the elegant Sonata Series at RISD, the Ars Subtilior series exploring contemporary experimental music, and more. We look forward to having you with us for Inhabit!

–Sebastian Ruth, Founder & Artistic Director

Were You There?

We like to look at this photo from our last Traffic Jam and pick out friendly and familiar faces. Don't miss your chance to make an appearance at CMW's Traffic Jam next Friday, September 26 from 5-6pm at CMW, 1392 Westminster Street in Providence. Help us celebrate Community MusicWorks' 18th Season CMW-style: music, snacks, speeches, kazoos and more. Look for a scene kind of like this. We hope to see you there!

Traffic Jam

Friday, September 26 from 5-6pm

Community MusicWorks

1392 Westminster Street in Providence's West End

Phase II Retreat

This year’s Phase II retreat to Voluntown Peace Trust was a chamber music playing, s’more eating, nature communing, yurt chilling, campfire singing, staff and student overnight bonding experience that is best described by photos and Phase II members themselves:



Kumcha, kumcha, bunny, bunny, toki, toki!

My experience at the Phase II retreat was filed delicious food, spider webs, s'mores, and Fantasia de Guayaba Habanera. It was great playing awesome music in sectionals and in orchestra. Although it was very hot and humid, discussions about the upcoming year engaged all of us. It was the beginning of an exciting year!





The Phase II retreat is something that happens every year. This year like last year did not disappoint. Whether it was daring ice breakers or singing by the campfire or even rehearsing in orchestra. It was filled with laughs.





I loved the icebreakers and the campfire. Many laughs were shared and it was a nice reminder to know I'm coming back to a new year with my second family.




This was my second year going to the retreat and I enjoyed myself just as much as last year, if not even more. We got to start the Grau piece again which is scheduled to be performed in New York City. I am so excited I can't wait. CMW has a lot in store for Phase 2 as well as the rest of the musicians in this wonderful program. (Name not indicated) My experience at CMW phase II retreat was pretty rad. It was so good seeing everyone. They are like family and just taking a moment to connect with all of them and start playing, learning and wondering about pieces for the future really got me back in the CMW mood.



Special thanks to Clara Yang for the photos and comment-collecting!

Moose! Community MusicWorks Musicians Retreat



         CMW Players at Avaloch Farms. The animal to the back left is not a moose.


The CMW musicians were fortunate to attend the Avaloch Farm Music Institute during its second season of existence in August. Avaloch  is the only artist residency program of its kind in the USA, promoting the work of professional chamber ensembles. The residency is beautifully equipped with rehearsal studios, living quarters, world-class food served family-style in a room that doubles as a concert hall, and hundreds of acres of New Hampshire fields and mountains to boot.


Avoloch lake



In addition to rehearsing repertoire for the upcoming season, the CMW musicians took time to do strategic planning about the ensemble's work over the next five years. And when doing none of the above, the players were seen picking blueberries, swimming in the lake, and even spotting moose in the woods. Recharged and inspired, we are hitting the streets in Providence and can't wait to share music with you soon.

-Sebastian Ruth

Photos courtesty of Avaloch Farm Music Institute, Sebastian and Lisa Barksdale.