Thursday, November 5: Tacos and Strings at La Lupita

cmw_at_la_lupita-72dpiFree concert and community dinner as part of our Inhabit  ArtPlace Event Series

CMW is pleased to announce the second installment of its “Inhabit” series, funded by a highly competitive national grant from ArtPlace America.

This fall, we present a new performance series at La Lupita Tacos Mexicanos, a well-established family restaurant in Olneyville Square. CMW Musicians and the owners of La Lupita invite all to sample “authentic Mexican fare” and “authentic classical music” for all comfort levels! Come and sample new items on the La Lupita menu and sample selections from Haydn, Brahms, Bach and other favorite composers.

Thursday, November 5 at 7pm
La Lupita Tacos Mexicanos
1950 Westminster Street, Providence

CMW All-Student Retreat

On a crisp, sunny morning last Wednesday, Community MusicWorks students, staff, and instruments filled two yellow school buses and traveled south to Canonicus Camp and Conference Center in Exeter, RI for the annual all-student retreat.

This was my second time joining the retreat, and I admit I was a little bit nervous about taking a large group of children with instruments into the wild! Fortunately none of my worst fears came to pass.  Instead the day was a wonderful mix of learning, play, and group bonding.


One of my favorite parts of the day was watching many of my Daily Orchestra Program students focus for an entire hour learning one melody (an unprecedented length of focus for them!).  I also enjoyed the introductory activity in which small groups had to build a machine using only the members of their group.  I think I did pretty well in my role as the side of a garbage truck.


Other highlights included watching students valiantly rescue each other from jail in a game of Capture the Flag, enjoying the perfect weather outdoors on a scavenger hunt that turned into “find as many interesting objects as you can,” and making my opera debut as a student’s cello in a performance following Chase Spruill’s opera workshop.

Throughout the day I enjoyed seeing so many students smiling, friendships forming, and people working together, whether to build a machine or to make music on their instruments.  It was definitely a successful retreat!

–Lisa Barksdale  (Resident Musician)


Stone Soup for Community Day

We all know the story.  Weary travelers venture into an unfamiliar town.  The residents become curious when these strangers start boiling a cauldron of “Stone Soup.”  One by one the villagers contribute ingredients to create a more and more delicious meal.  The Stone Soup story was the theme of Tuesday’s Community Day, our annual gathering to kick off the new school year for our students and families.


Amid cheerful games and dinner we also watched the Fellows Quartet perform a dramatization of the stone soup story (only in their version the weary travelers created a beautiful performance of a Haydn Quartet rather than a soup), and we examined the question “What ingredients do we need to make CMW great?”  Each student ensemble broke out into discussion groups and came up with their own cauldron of ingredients which they hope to bring to their rehearsals and practice throughout the year.


The evening was a wonderful way to reconnect after the summer, to welcome newcomers to the community, to enjoy music and food together, and to kick off the year with happiness and intention.  We are all excited for the musical “soup” that is to come!




–story and photos by Lisa Barksdale (Resident Musician)

New Residency Building Course at CMW

Hello CMW friends, I’m super thrilled to be able to continue to find ways of staying connected to CMW, its amazing people, and the important work being done at 1392 Westminster Street at the intersection of artistry and community relevance.

This year, while continuing in my role directing New England Conservatory’s Sistema Fellowship Resource Center, I also have the exciting opportunity to pilot a couple of courses through NEC’s School of Continuing Education. The new course that I’m most jazzed about is called “Building a Community-based Residency” and it’s informed by my many formative experiences through CMW combined with my last three years up in Boston working with Sistema Fellows and learning about community-based artistic and educational initiatives across the country.

sistema fellows[2]

Our old friend and course instructor Heath Marlow with Sistema Fellows in Los Angeles

Building on curriculum developed for NEC’s Sistema Fellows Program (2009-2014), the goal of this new course is to develop a holistic understanding of the nuances of creating a successful and sustainable community-based artistic initiative. Participants begin by designing a project that reflects their personal and unique artistic and/or educational vision, and is based in an existing community of their choosing. Over the year, participants will continuously refine their ideas as they incorporate new information that will expand, deepen, and strengthen their concept. As they learn about specific aspects of nonprofit organizations—both strategic (e.g. mission and vision) and operational (e.g. budgeting and fundraising)—these will become incorporated into participants’ blueprints for an organization to support their initiatives.

This course feels like an opportunity to take all of the one-on-one conversations that I have had (with CMW Fellows, Sistema Fellows, IMPS, and many other artists over the years) and streamline them into an efficient, accessible, and repeatable curriculum. When Minna and I checked in over the summer, it seemed clear that there was a potentially excellent opportunity to offer this course in Providence for the four CMW Fellows. So that’s what is going to be happening on seventeen Friday mornings between mid-September and the end of May.

It’s certain to be an interesting learning adventure, and I’m so glad to have the opportunity to spend time with the Fellows, sharing my experiences and thinking together. There will be two opportunities for anyone who is interested to stop in and see what this course yields: CMW’s annual “Alternative Models” seminar in January, and an end-of-the-year exhibition (think Science Fair) of the Fellows’ work at the end of May. And maybe even some blogging in this very space?

–Heath Marlow

The Phase II year begins!

Last Friday Phase II students and CMW staff traveled to Camp Hoffman in South Kingstown, RI for our annual overnight retreat. The weekend included lots of music, s’mores and songs around a campfire, icebreaker games, bonding activities, a nature walk, and group discussions. It was a great opportunity for students and staff to reconnect after the summer break.


On Saturday morning students met in their chamber groups to read music and begin working as an ensemble. Each group will rehearse and perform together throughout the coming year.

PhaseIIcellosIn one group activity, students were challenged to imagine how art or music could be a force for positive change three decades from now. Students conceptualized a monument commemorating a notable artist and described how their legacy was worthy of public recognition. Phase II will continue to examine the relationship between the arts and society in their Friday evening discussions over the course of the year.

A highlight of the retreat for me was the raucous game of “Entourage”: a brief but extraordinary version of rock-paper-scissors where the losers of individual matches form a fiercely loyal cheering squad around the winners in a lively play-off that culminates in an unrestrained victory.


It was a great weekend and everyone left feeling excited about what this year has in store!

–Josie Davis  (Violin Fellow ’15-’17)

Watch the Entourage icebreaker game on our Facebook page.

Oh, Ogontz! The CMW Players Retreat

ogontz_swingsThis past week the CMW players went on a retreat at the magnificent Ogontz camp in New Hampshire. Ogontz is a magical place in the mountains of northern New Hampshire that includes breathtaking views, hiking, swimming, canoeing, a friendly staff, rustic-yet-comfortable accommodations, and most importantly, the most delicious homemade meals we could have hoped for.


As a new fellow, I was definitely a little nervous about spending time with my new colleagues in a new place for an entire week. What if they don’t like me? What if I get lost in the woods and eaten by a bear and no one notices I’m gone?!

Thankfully I quickly learned this organization is made up of the most warm-hearted and welcoming people. This retreat offered endless opportunities for bonding, whether through learning about everyone’s playing styles in rehearsal or hearing funny stories at the dinner table.
Fellows_Ogontz My favorite memories of the week include chatting around the largest bonfire I’ve ever seen, watching everyone transform into Charades experts during a rowdy game of Fish Bowl, and going into town with the other Fellows quartet and exploring. I am so grateful for this time to get to know everyone and prepare music for our opening concert. While I will miss fresh-baked cookies after every meal, I can’t wait to get back to Providence and hit the ground running!

–Kate Outterbridge, Fellow (’15-’17)