Reflections on Impact: Community MusicWorks at 20

“Twenty years ago, CMW virtually founded the field of place-based music making with an emphasis on social justice in the U.S. Two decades later, their original values and practices show up in the mission statements and goals for virtually every community embedded music education program – Sistema-inspired and others. But what doesn’t show up in those other programs is the deliberate program design and the hard work of implementing the design in daily practice. That is where CMW’s excellence and value to the field lies. But that’s also the challenge – on the one hand, CMW’s vision has been normalized. On the other hand, what remains unique – daily hard work and evolution – isn’t as glamorous as high-minded promises.”
–Arts Educator and Author Eric Booth, from the 2016 Evaluation of CMW’s “Extending Our Reach” Initiative

As Community MusicWorks celebrates its 20th season, we are pleased to present “We Are Each Other’s Magnitude and Bond,” a report that focuses on CMW’s efforts to share our model and practices over the past decade.

We Are Each Other’s Magnitude and Bond is an evaluation of Community MusicWorks’ Fellowship Program and Institutes for Musicianship and Public Service — two long-term efforts funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation designed to extend the impact of CMW’s twenty-year urban music residency to a wider field. Led by Wolf Brown’s Dennie Palmer-Wolf of WolfBrown, the evaluation documents the effectiveness of the Fellowship Program and Institutes in diversifying the classical music field, promoting the uptake of CMW’s model in new communities, building supportive networks, and developing a next generation of entrepreneurial, community-invested musicians.

Read We Are Each Other’s Magnitude and Bond here.

Bach Around Town 2016

Our annual celebration of the music of J.S. Bach continues with “Bach Around Town,” a series of pop-up concerts around the city of Providence.  These performances are also part of our 20 Popups Series, which is an ongoing honoring of our 20th Season, featuring 20 informal popup concerts around the city throughout the year.


Scenes from 2015 Bach Around Town  when Resident Musicians Chase Spruill and Lisa Barksdale performed in the rotunda of the Rhode Island State House

The 2016 Bach Around Town Schedule is as follows:

November 1
10:30 AM
Providence Public Library, Empire St. Foyer
Chloe Kline, viola
11:00 AM
Amos House
415 Friendship St.
Ashley Frith, viola

November 2
12 PM
RISD Museum Pearl Café
Ashley Frith, viola

November 3
1:30 PM
Park View Nursing Home
Josie Davis, violin, and Adrienne Taylor, cello

November 4
10 AM
Rhode Island Foundation
Chase Spruill, violin
4 PM
Illuminate Thanksgiving
Performance on a street corner
Chloe Kline and CMW students

November 9
2 PM
Campus Fine Wines
Zan Berry, cello

November 10
12 PM
Café la France (Amtrak Station)
Sebastian Ruth


Actor Marcus Guy to Join the CMW All-Student Retreat!

Next Tuesday is our All-Student Retreat! CMW students will be heading to Canonicus Camp & Conference Center for a day of music, games, and a special workshop led by NYC-based actor Marcus Guy. 

Check out the interview below with Marcus about his life as an actor and his approach to teaching.


Can you describe your background?
I come from small-town Scotland, somewhere between Glasgow and the Western coastline. It’s picturesque, it’s small and to many people back home, my being in New York City, pursuing the career that I am, is simply unfathomable. I attended public school through the equivalent to 10th grade before going to Scotland’s only performing arts school to study Musical Theatre. There, I attained my diploma in Musical Theatre performance, but discovered my love was more for truthful storytelling and less for performance in a “showy” sense. I auditioned successfully for Juilliard Drama in my senior year of High School and moved to New York just weeks after my 18th birthday. As a child actor I had a lot of experience in pantomime (something of a cultural phenomenon in the UK) and on Scottish Television and Radio with the BBC but was also always involved with Theatre in Education programs touring Scotland and playing some of our largest arena venues so outreach, in a very broad sense, has always been an integral part of my life and work.

Where are you currently based?
I currently call New York City home, though I have a huge desire to continue traveling. As an actor trained in the theatre, New York City is the best place to continue working in that medium as well as forging exciting professional relationships in films, television, and the commercial world.

Describe your current work.
Most recently I have been developing new work (my own and others’) as well as focusing on outreach and continuous auditioning. In September I travelled to Bangalore with ASTEP, a NYC based organization, to work with students at Shanti Bhavan conducting workshops in the fine and performing arts with students aged 3-18. Right now, I am in Central Florida launching a new part of the stART Program, which offers aspiring performing artists a bespoke college preparation program that really focuses on the specifics of applying to degree programs with a focus in the performing arts. Recently, I have also had the great joy of working on a lot of exciting auditions — taping them on the road and sending them all over the country — and planning out what 2017 might look like.


Can you give us a preview of your upcoming workshop at CMW?
When I think about my immediate connection to music – rhythm comes first. As a child I could not stand still when music came on and love finding how my physical self can relate to an auditory experience. A lot of my actor training was scored with talk of acknowledging and pursuing impulses and this seemed like an idea that exposed both the hallmark of my training and my continued work in the professional work and my relationship to music itself. I hope students will learn to act, react and interact in person, in space and with their instruments in music over the course of the day and also find a level of empowerment in self-expression that moves beyond the sheet music and into something more free form that is imagined on the spot.

Tell us about stART and the inspiration behind it.
stART is really my adoptive child. My friend Evan (a fellow Juilliard alum) started the program in his hometown in 2010 and I joined as a teaching artist in 2011. Since my involvement began 5 and a bit years ago the program has grown from being Evan’s way of giving back to the community that raised him to a true professional breeding ground where young artists, in a variety of disciplines, can make serious and meaningful connections with young and emerging professionals. As we enter our 8th year of programming, we are excited to change the structure of the program to really focus on collaboration between artists of different skill-sets. I am proud to say that our students have gone on to some of the most prestigious performing arts colleges in the country and represent us on the highest level — a student from year 1 was at the Emmy’s this year!

How do you approach teaching acting?
I approach any teaching setting with the idea that I should never ask my students to do something that I can’t do, which funnily enough is a trick that won’t work for me at CMW — I am not a musician! However, my spirit will be the same. I am always willing to try things, to dare, to be playful, to risk and to fail knowing that I’ll have more information for my next attempt. I think students can only take that vital and often daunting leap successfully when they see the person who is supposed to be motivating or inspiring them doing the same thing. I am high-octane, motivated and always willing to say “Yes, and…” to an idea before considering shutting it down.

We are looking forward to Marcus joining us on our all-student retreat!  

–Josie Davis, Violin Fellow

BachFest Begins at Providence College and the JCB


The Sunday event at the JCB is sold out, but please join us Saturday, October 22 at 7pm for our Providence College concert.

The MusicWorks Collective is excited to present our annual “Bach and Friends” concerts this weekend featuring works by J.S. Bach, Padre Antonio Soler, Georg Philipp Telemann, and Benjamin Britten.  We are also thrilled to welcome back Fred Jodry as harpsichord soloist.  This year Fred will be joined in duet by Paul Cinnewa, fellow harpsichordist.  Our Founder and Artistic Director Sebastian Ruth will perform the solo viola part of Telemann’s Viola Concerto in G Major, and we’ll bring some of our students on stage to perform with us for the beloved Air from the Third Orchestral Suite in D (also known as “Air on the G string”) by J.S. Bach.  We’ll conclude the performance with the always energizing Simple Symphony by Benjamin Britten.

This weekend’s concerts kick off our annual BachFest, with pop-up Bach performances all around Providence, culminating in an all-night-long Bach Marathon at Manning Chapel on November 11th

We hope you can join us this weekend as we begin our celebration of Bach! – either in the beautiful Ryan Concert Hall at Providence College on Saturday evening or in the John Carter Brown Library on Sunday afternoon (tickets for the JCB performance must be reserved in advance).

Full Program details below:

Concerto for Two Harpsichords in C Major, J.S. Bach BWV 1061
Fred Jodry and Paul Cinnewa, Harpsichords

Concerto II for Two Harpsichords by Padre Antonio Soler   
Fred Jodry and Paul Cinnewa, Harpsichords

Viola Concerto in G Major, Georg Philipp Telemann 
Sebastian Ruth, viola

Air from the Third Orchestral Suite in D, BWV 1068, J.S. Bach 

Simple Symphony, Benjamin Britten

Saturday, October 22, 7pm
Providence College
Smith Center for the Arts
Ryan Concert Hall
61 Eaton Street
Providence, RI
Admission is free and no reservations required.
Free parking available in lot adjacent to the concert hall.  Use #61 Eaton Street for GPS directions to the Eaton Street Gate.

Sunday October 23, 3pm
John Carter Brown Library
Brown University
Providence, RI
This event is sold out.

Community Day 2016

Each year we begin our education programs with an evening celebration, where we invite all students and families to share in some music, discussions, games, and food.  On Tuesday September 20th, CMW families gathered in the cafetorium of the Trinity Academy for Performing Arts to reunite, enjoy each others’ company, and learn about what to expect for the new year.

Teamwork and celebration were the themes of this year’s Community Day!  Resident musician (and playwright) Chase Spruill wrote a skit for us to kick off the evening, featuring the MusicWorks Collective in a mock-ESPN sports coverage scenario.  Chase and “Too-Cool” Chloe Kline played the role of sports commentators, while the Collective valiantly performed excerpts from Christopher Theofanidis’s Visions and Miracles, in spite of some questionable calls by a very strict referee Hannah Ross.  At the end, our winded quarterback/concertmaster Jesse Holstein lauded the benefits of being part of a team to an interviewer.

Following the skit, students broke off into their performing ensembles for the year to reflect and think about their goals for the year ahead.  Each group had a different activity, including writing down the ingredients that could help them form a good team and playing games focused on working together.

humanknot1 humanknot2

Daily Orchestra Program students attempt to untangle themselves in a game called “The Human Knot!”

Of course, no Community Day would be complete without a delicious meal, this year including a special cake to honor our 20th Season!

community-day-cakeWe are looking forward to a year of music, learning, and celebrating with our students and families, and we can’t think of a better way to start our year!

–Lisa Barksdale, Resident Musician

Welcome back, Hannah!!


We’re excited to announce that illustrious violist Hannah Ross will be re-joining CMW this year as a teacher at the Daily Orchestra Program and member of the MusicWorks Collective. During her time as a CMW fellow last year Hannah spent one day a week with the DOP coaching the orchestra and helping students practice. Now we’re thrilled that she’ll be with us five days a week!

As a CMW Fellow Hannah was also able to observe different music programs in various parts of the U.S., including Boston, LA, and Juneau, Alaska!  Hannah was inspired by the programs she visited that were based in El Sistema and met every day.  She became interested in working with a daily program, and was happy that the Daily Orchestra Program position would offer her the opportunity to both do this and to continue living and working in the city of Providence, which she had fallen in love with during her fellowship.

Hannah is excited about learning new ways of approaching a younger age group of students this year with the DOP, and looks forward to becoming more organized and methodical in her teaching.

Hannah also enjoys writing letters (the old fashioned way – on paper with a pen!), and she also used to tap dance!  Hannah is also a talented baker, and her colleagues at CMW are thrilled that they will continue to be the recipients of Hannah’s famous home-baked treats!

We are so excited to continue working with, teaching with and performing with Hannah, and we’ll have more information about the new expansion of the Daily Orchestra Program coming to the blog soon!

Adrienne Taylor, Daily Orchestra Program Director/Resident Musician

Meet Erika

We have exciting news!  Now that our 20th Season has begun, we are extremely happy to announce that Erika Ramirez is our new Program Coordinator!  We are SO pleased that Erika will be joining the team, and we are excited about the many incredible attributes she brings to CMW, including firsthand experience as a CMW parent.


Erika has a long history with CMW, and a special insight into our programs.  We asked her to talk a little bit more about her story, and here is what she had to say:

You have quite a story with CMW!  Can you describe your history with CMW?

Well, I’ve been involved with CMW since 1999, I believe.  I was working at West End Community Center when my ‘relationship’ with CMW started.  Sebastian went to the Center in order to promote his program and his vision of introducing Classical music in this community.  About that time, my son Rusbel started taking cello lessons with Heath.  When Rusbel got to high school, he decided to leave CMW for football. After that, I did not have any child enrolled in the program; but my involvement with CMW continued in the form of volunteering my time in translating any  forms from English to Spanish due to the large Hispanic population in the West End Area.   Years past and here comes, Alana, who started  her violin lessons (w/Sebastian) in 2005, I believe, she was 7.  Eleven years later, now 18, she graduated in May.

What originally drew you to CMW?

Well, I like music first of all, and as a single mother, at that time it was a way to expose my children to something constructive; and financially, it was something that I could manage.

Do you have a favorite CMW memory?

The most recent favorite memory:  When I saw Alana graduating, getting her own certificate.  That meant that all the difficulties we had had during those 11 years paid off.

What drew you to the Program Coordinator Position?

Being involved with CMW for so many years as a parent became part of my regular life, so I thought that with my experience as a CMW parent I could take the new role of program coordinator and continue to be part of this big and beautiful program/family.

What are you looking forward to the most this year at CMW?

During my first year, I am looking forward to fulfill if not all but most of the goals that the program coordinator position entitles-especially the volunteer system.  I know it is a big challenge, but I believe we can do better than previous years.

Do you have any special hobbies or hidden talents you’d like us to know about?

I love music in general, never learned to play any instruments, but I have some basic, basic knowledge. When I was a teenager I used to sing at school events  and other activities.  My hobby is to travel either by plane, car, train;  whichever is the most convenient and cheapest way of doing it.

We later learned over lunch that Erika has some pretty superhuman driving skills and once drove 20 hours without stopping!  We’re not sure if this skill will be useful as Program Coordinator, but we’re pretty much in awe!

We are so thrilled to welcome Erika to the CMW team!  

-Chloë Kline, Education Director/Resident Musician

Place Your Bid! Auction to Benefit CMW: Benoît Rolland’s Bow 1515


This fall, CMW celebrates a significant milestone—20 years of creating cohesive urban community through music education and performance that transforms the lives of children, families, and musicians. As Alex Ross wrote in The New Yorker almost a decade ago, we continue to grow and deepen our practice as a “revolutionary organization in which the distinction between performing and teaching disappears.”

Meanwhile, world-renowned bow maker and MacArthur Fellow Benoît Rolland is celebrating a major milestone of his own: the crafting of his 1,500th bow.

Bidding ends Thursday, October 13 at 1pm EST! Place your bid here.

Distraught after the recent terrorist events around the world, Benoît, a native Parisian who now makes his home in a suburb of Boston, felt compelled to make a gesture to encourage peace in the world, and therefore crafted a violin bow, Bow 1515, with the intention of giving to an organization whose mission promotes access to high quality music education for youth. Community MusicWorks is thrilled to be the recipient of this most generous gift. In Benoît’s own words, “To embrace life and engage in music is a potent antidote to violence. My donation is meant to encourage perseverance, artistic dedication and music sharing.”

The violin bow is ebony and gold mounted, with a signature gold and diamond inlay on the frog. We intend to auction the bow to the highest bidder. All proceeds of the sale will benefit Community MusicWorks.

We invite you to experience the exquisite craftsmanship of one of the world’s leading bow makers and make a bid for purchase.  Or, if you know of someone who may be interested in purchasing this bow, please pass this information along.  The individual who buys this bow will accomplish two goals: the proceeds of the sale will help CMW, and, hopefully, the bow will move on to world stages.

The auction is now live at


To watch a video of Bow 1515, click here:






Benoît Rolland Bow 1515, played by violinist In Mo Yang

To read about the bow, click here:

Benoît Rolland’s Twin Bow

To read about Benoît Rolland, click here:

Strings Magazine: Poetry in Motion: Benoît Rolland on the Making of Bows 1500 and 1515

Boston Globe: Watertown Bow Maker Practices Musical Alchemy


Model and Image Benoît Rolland, Copyrighted
For more information, please contact Kelly Reed at