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CMW Celebrates 20 with Twenty Years, Twenty Stories

cmw20_header

 

 

 

This year Community MusicWorks turns 20! To mark the milestone, we are gathering the stories of 20 members of our community–musicians, students, parents, graduates and supporters. Look for new stories throughout the season.

Interviews were recorded, transcribed and edited to create personal narratives in each subject’s distinctive voice. We hope 20 Years, 20 Stories captures the many flavors and varieties of CMW experience. Join us at a concert anytime to start creating your own CMW story.

Read the interviews here.

 

community-day-cake

 

An Evening with Johnny Gandelsman in a Concert to Benefit CMW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community MusicWorks invites you to an evening with world-renowned violinist Johnny Gandelsman in a solo concert to benefit CMW.

Join us Thursday, November 9 at 7pm as Johnny Gandelsman of Silk Road and Brooklyn Rider performs the Six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin by J.S. Bach.  All proceeds of this concert will support the free music education programs at Community MusicWorks.

To hear Johnny Gandelsman play solo Bach is to hear someone with an impeccable technique and mastery of the instrument who has re-imagined these works and the gestures required to play them. Having grown up in Russia and Israel, and later studying at the Curtis Institute of Music, Johnny’s training readied him for a major international solo career. Instead, Johnny’s individual voice has led him to absorb styles of violin playing from historical recordings, Irish fiddlers, banjo virtuosos, Persian musicians and more, and he has incorporated all these elements into his sensibilities as a violinist, basically inventing his own style of violin playing.

The Six Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin are some of the deepest, most spiritually rich music for the violin (or for any instrument). They are part of every violinist’s journey throughout a lifetime–from learning the simpler movements in student years to tackling the signature epic movements at later stages, including the fugues, the Chaconne, and others. Few violinists record the entire set of six Sonatas and Partitas and fewer still perform them all at once. Johnny has done both, and will perform them as a benefit for CMW.

This is an event not to be missed!

Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 7pm
First Unitarian Church
1 Benevolent Street, Providence
$30 General Seating
$100 Preferred Seating with a pre-concert reception at 6pm
Purchase tickets here

 

 

 

October 19-21: Sonata Series and Ars Subtilior Festival features André Cormier

 

 

 

 

 

 


Composer André Cormier

Join us for a weekend focused on Composer-in-Residence André Cormier as part of the Sonata Series and the Ars Subtilior Festival. Beginning on Thursday, the Sonata Series Event at RISD will feature a performance of Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven, and events on Friday evening and an all-day event on Saturday will feature works by Cormier performed by the composer himself, special guests, the MusicWorks Collective and CMW students.

Strangely Beautiful and Slightly Twisted:
A Note from Ars Subtilior curator and CMW Resident Musician Laura Cetilia

An unprecedented event is upon us. On October 17, Acadian composer André Cormier will be arriving in Providence as composer-in-residence for the 2017 Ars Subtilior Festival at Community MusicWorks. For five days, CMW and its surroundings will be inundated with strangely beautiful and slightly twisted music from the Maritimes.

In the past, Ars Subtilior events were reserved for understated, small chamber music concerts that involved only a handful of CMW musicians with an occasional appearance by our Phase II students. This season, no holds barred.

Almost every person involved with CMW – from our Development Director to our youngest Daily Orchestra Program student – plus numerous guest performers coming all the way from California, Montreal and New York, will be included in this onslaught of experimental music.

The festival begins the day André arrives with a workshop/performance during All-Play at Calvary Baptist Church. Students of my SoundLab class will perform selections from the simple, but fruitful graphic score “Un ensemble d’actions possibles,” creating sounds on mini modular synthesizers that we’ve worked on in class in conjunction with some good old string playing. That day will also feature “25 Bars for Four Dollars” performed by Sarah Kim, Piero Guimaraes, Zan Berry, and myself on pennies.

That’s right, you heard me: pennies.

On Wednesday, Andre will visit with students of the Daily Orchestra Program, who will also be experimenting with pennies and playing through “Un ensemble d’actions possibles” while he offers composerly pointers.

On Thursday, Cormier’s “Scattershot Beethoven,” performed by Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth, and “Marie-Pierre,” performed by Andrei Baumann can be heard at the Sonata Series at RISD Museum. There will be a pre-concert reception: come by and meet André and the performers before the start of the program!

Friday will feature three different configurations of André’s chamber music: his take on a string quartet “Plaie Mortelle” (Mortal Wound), his Candle Quartet featuring our administrative staff (Katie, Kelly, Liz) and newly appointed DOP string teacher, Tessa Sacramone, all lighting and blowing out candles over the course of an hour. “Fleurs d’équinoxe,” a light and sparse circular score, will include the talents of alumnus Andrew Oung, formally local composer/performer JPA Falzone , our own Piero Guimaraes, along with members of the MusicWorks Collective.

Saturday, the final day of the festival, culminates in an extravaganza at RISD museum featuring 3 out of 10 volumes of works André composed based on the epic poem “Conversations” by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson. These are by far the lushest of Andre’s works and should not be missed. Guest artists Teodora Stepancic (pianist from New York), Andrea Young (soprano from Montreal) and Robin Streb (violist from Moncton) along with myself, will be bringing these works to life. That day will also include a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by Phase 2 students, trilling on their instruments like flying insects throughout the galleries. And finally, his string octet “Microbes” with quietly pulsating pizzicatos and meandering glissandi, played by the illustrious MusicWorks Collective.

Come. You’ll never hear anything like this ever again.

–Laura Cetilia

Festival Schedule:

Thursday, October 19 at 7pm
RISD Museum Grand Gallery
For this first event of the Sonata Series, Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth perform Andre Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven and cellist Adrienne Taylor performs Beethoven with guest pianist Andrei Baumann.
RISD Museum, Grand Gallery 
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert and Museum Admission is free

Friday, October 20 at 8pm
Sutton Space Gallery
Community MusicWorks musicians and staff perform Cormier’s Candle Quartet, Fleurs d’équinoxe, and Plaie Mortelle.
159 Sutton Street, Providence
Suggested donation $20

Saturday, October 21 11am-5pm
RISD Museum-various galleries
Saturday’s day-long event features several performances: works based on the epic poem Conversations by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson (with guest soprano Andrea Young), a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by CMW Phase II students and Microbes performed by the MusicWorks Collective.
RISD Museum
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert is free with Museum admission

Saturday’s Schedule:
11am-Noon
Conversations 1 in the Grand Gallery
Noon-1pm
Microbes in the Grand Gallery
1pm-2pm
Conversations 3 in the Grand Gallery
2pm-3pm
Libellules in Various Galleries
3pm-4pm
Conversations 5 in the Grand Gallery

 

 

 

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

This year, Community MusicWorks launches its third decade, and as we step into the next chapter of this organization’s growth our work is urgent in new ways. Twenty years ago the idea of a string quartet in a permanent residency in an urban neighborhood was a fringe idea in classical music. The notion that an urban residency would be the core of a chamber group’s life and work and that community development would be an equal ambition to playing and teaching was new territory.

Now, two decades in, conservatories are graduating students with entrepreneurship training, many with a social change focus; musicians are seeking alternate venues to the traditional concert halls, and increasingly orchestras and concert series are investing in their communities. All this points to a movement that is robust, respected, and ever growing: musicians experimenting with new forms, new career paths, and new inquiries into the place of musicianship in contemporary life.

CMW in our third decade has a new task to help grow this generation of students and musicians. With the launch of our MusicWorks Network and Fellowship, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we lead a new conversation across the country into the connections between social justice and musical practice, and share ways in which young people’s participation in programs like CMW can support their paths to and through college. We are thrilled to be bringing together former participants from both the CMW Fellowship Program and Institutes for Musicianship and Public Service, now leading programs of their own in more than 15 cities across the country and in Canada, to grow and learn together.

In our concert series, Season 21 offers adventurous programming. You’ll notice that most programs feature one or more female composers’ works, an intentional effort to align our concert programming with our commitment to equity and social justice. From the season opener to the June finale, you’ll be invited into new sonic experiences—the driving intensity of Julia Wolfe’s “Cruel Sister,” a new work by Annika Socolofsky, a festival celebrating André Cormier’s quiet masterpieces, and the premiere of a work by Rhode Island composer Forrest Larson. There are many opportunities for new sounds and experiences!

Our tradition of Bach in November continues, including the fifth year of the overnight Bach marathon. This season also features a special benefit performance by Johnny Gandelsman (of Brooklyn Rider and the Silk Road Project) of all the Bach solo works for violin—a spiritual and physical feat rarely undertaken, even by violinists of the greatest stamina.

Our December Solstice Concert returns—back by popular demand! The storytelling and musical adventure takes us again from foxes and crows to the wind and a chickadee, whose song reminds us that music can bring light and hope—a wonderful allegorical tale that reflects CMW’s mission.

One final thought to carry with you as you help launch this third decade—our work is about each person’s continual development, or what Maxine Greene would call “being on the way.” From our students to our musician-teachers, to audience members and supporters, CMW’s mission focuses on encouraging all of us to be continually on our way—toward growth, deeper awareness, and indeed transformative experiences of beauty and community.

Let’s step together into the work of this third decade!

-Sebastian Ruth, Founder & Artistic Director

Check our Season 21 calendar here.

MusicWorks Network: A New Initiative

Within the past twenty-one years, CMW has offered professional musicians opportunities to re-imagine the very foundations of a classical music career, and to think more broadly about music as a way of engaging in and with communities.

This year, CMW has the opportunity to deepen that work with the support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a new initiative, Citizens of the World: Forging Pathways to College and Beyond. This strategic initiative is designed to substantially increase the number of racially diverse, low-income young people who gain access to critical skills that promote success. This work builds on CMW’s 20-year history of developing music-based education programs designed to open new worlds of opportunity to low-income African-American and Latino youth. Out of this work has come Phase II, an approach to developing fundamental skills and supports that promote college-going, that has led 95% of CMW graduates to continue to college.

CMW will share CMW’s successful college-going model across a network of community-based music education sites. Called the MusicWorks Network, this project will link 10-15 community-based music sites serving over 650 young people and convene them in an annual Summer Institute for training, resource-sharing, and collaborative evaluation.

The first Summer Institute took place this past August 22-30 as educators and staff from ten different organizations gathered at the beautiful Rolling Ridge Conference Center in North Andover, MA. Connecting around the ways that social justice practices and technical and artistic work on string instruments can support one another, teachers and staff came from Community MusicWorks, MusiConnects (Boston, MA), MyCincinnati (Cincinnati, OH), Musica Franklin (Franklin, MA), Orchestra of St. Luke’s (New York, New York), MusicHaven (New Haven, CT), Newport Strings (Newport, RI), Sistema New Brunswick (New Brunswick, St. John, Canada), Strong Harbor Strings (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada), and Neighborhood Strings (Worcester, MA).

Participants convened for a range of workshops and trainings, including a 2-day string pedagogy workshop with renowned violinist and teacher Mimi Zweig, a poetry and social justice workshop with poet Jonathan Mendoza, a workshop on anti-racist organizational frameworks with trainer and activist Adeola Oredola, and discussions and reflection around the creative synergy between string pedagogy and social justice teachings.

The Institute was designed and facilitated by Sebastian Ruth and Chloe Kline with the new MusicWorks Network staff: MusicWorks Network Director Jori Ketten and MusicWorks Network Fellow Andrew Oung. Part of the initiative, the MusicWorks Network Fellowship is a one-year position for alumni of CMW’s youth program or graduates of CMW’s two-year Fellowship Program to contribute to the MusicWorks Network. Andrew is our first alumni hire at CMW.

 

Revolution of Values

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise.

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:
[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!
–Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director

Revolution of Values: A Day of Creative Action

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise. 

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:

[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!

-Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director 

Art in a Time of Rage

As CMW musicians have been working over the past several weeks to articulate our response as artists and citizens to the many events of the new administration, our discussions have toggled between the actions we need to take raising our voices as engaged citizens and making music.

New Yorker music critic Alex Ross, who once profiled CMW, takes on this question in his post about how musicians make music in a time of rage. Ross quotes Lucy Caplan*, whose essay about CMW’s 2016 Art and Social Action symposium is The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts.

*A fun fact: Lucy worked with CMW’s Sebastian Ruth as a student in his Yale class, and then as a TA in his Music and Social Action Coursera class. Read more about Lucy here and here.

 

Links:
Alex Ross: Making Art in a Time of Rage
Alex Ross: Learning the Score (CMW Profile in the New Yorker)
Lucy Caplan: The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts
Sebastian Ruth: Music and Social Action (Coursera)

 

 

 

Talking and Listening: Behind the Scenes of 20 Years, 20 Stories

 

 

 

 

 

Linda Daniels is a writer, editor, cellist, CMW parent, former CMW Board member and expert eavesdropper. She helms the 20 Years, 20 Stories project and this is her story.

I’ve been an eavesdropper since childhood. My mother liked to pour herself a Royal Crown cola in the late afternoon, park herself on the couch and telephone her mother, which was my cue to c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y raise the extension handset upstairs. Usually, they discussed mundane matters:  pork chops versus chicken, how this season’s fashions were so unflattering and, now and then, family gossip. The topics were almost beside the point, except for the family gossip, which is why I eavesdropped in the first place. But I was also intrigued by the mysterious current of poetry running beneath even the most routine remarks. I loved the give and take of conversation, the sighs and pauses, the sound of my mother’s sympathetic tsk-tsk’s and my grandmother’s pretty brogue. I almost always got busted and was scolded, but not seriously enough to deter me from future attempts. Talking was as close as my family got to making music. No one sang or played an instrument, and my relatives just embarrassed themselves trying to clap along to music, but man, could these people talk. Listeners, even illicit ones, had a role to play, too. We completed the performance circle.

In college, Studs Terkel’s oral history Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do shaped my senior year thesis. I made the leap from habitual eavesdropper to scholarly interviewer and collected the oral histories of women who came of age during the 1920s. The best parts of the resulting 200-plus-page door-stopper were their reminiscences. After college, I became a reporter: more listening, more writing. Even after I quit newspapers and turned to other pursuits, I never lost the eavesdropping habit. My husband recognizes the faraway look that crosses my face when we’re in a public space and I hear something that bears further investigation, convinced, of course, that no one can tell what I’m up to. After 27 years, he also knows that whatever he and I were talking about will have to wait. More recently, I’ve been inspired by writer Svetlana Alexievich, who won a Nobel for Secondhand Time, her beautifully rendered oral history of post-Soviet Russians.

In September, I began an exciting new listening and writing project in connection with Community MusicWorks’ 20th anniversary: collecting 20 representative stories of CMW musicians, staff, students, parents and supporters. I’ve been expertly assisted by CMW fellow Josie Davis, who interviewed three people, and Communications Manager Liz Cox, who proofreads the stories and designs the online content. (Read the stories here.)

It hasn’t been difficult to get people to open up. I’ve been a familiar face at CMW since my youngest had his first cello lesson here ten years ago. I’ve exchanged knowing glances with other parents when a beginner nails “Twinkle” and held a collective breath during the dying notes of a Beethoven quartet performed by the pros. I’ve square-danced to fiddle tunes and attempted, much less successfully, the salsa.  I’ve sung rounds and set up folding chairs; fretted over budgets and strategic goals; eased my car past side-view mirrors on snow-bound Messer Street; knitted for newborns; and eaten far too much pizza.

Since people know me better as an at-large mom than as an interviewer and writer, some of my questions may discomfit. Recently, a student I was interviewing put up a hand and blurted, “That’s a weird question!” Um, ok. But can you answer it anyway? I remain confident that what I’m curious about others are too. She answered in good faith, trusting that I have her back. I am honored by that trust. You readers should be also. When people talk honestly they make themselves vulnerable. They don’t want to be misconstrued as they describe emotions and realizations that can’t be summarized by facts alone. This is especially true of CMW’s staff, who are talking about their life’s work.

It’s why I take the final step of the oral history process so seriously: converting 8-20 pages of interview transcript to a narrative that honors the speaker’s intentions, captures history while it’s still occurring, and compels readers. It’s a messy process. No matter how cleverly I order the questions and pursue answers during an interview, the talk meanders, as talk will. Even the most prepared and polished speakers wander off topic and speak colloquially, thank goodness. They are thinking out loud, which is where the music happens. It’s the difference between watching an official read a prepared statement from behind a podium and hearing him speak spontaneously from the heart when a reporter surprises him off-stage by asking exactly the right question at the right moment. I’m going for the latter.

Some “20 Years, 20 Stories” subjects have been flummoxed by the difference between the hour-plus interview they remember and the 2-5 page story I produce, having edited and condensed our conversation to a fare-thee-well, absenting my questions along the way. (Available here, if you’re curious.) They worry about being misperceived and about sounding too casual. They worry that they have said too much or too little. It is scary to see your constantly morphing thoughts marching in regimental black lines across white space. Where are the raised eyebrows signaling sincerity or the smile signaling warmth? Where are the tears that welled up when recalling a triumphant moment with a challenging student? Where’s a second or third chance to rephrase? To be more thoughtful? To explain more fully?

Oral history and chamber music have much in common. Both art forms strive to capture human experience through artifice and collaborative effort, and both are very much of the moment. Therein lies the thrill. Having made the artistic decision to omit interview questions in favor of narrative flow, I don’t worry that readers need cue cards. I trust that readers will appreciate what I appreciate about oral history: the idiosyncratic quirks of everyday speech as thoughtful people talk about things that matter. Subjects can trust their beautiful, one-of-a-kind voices to tell the story. The rest of us can pick up the extension and listen in.

The 20 Years, 20 Stories homepage.

Archives

CMW Celebrates 20 with Twenty Years, Twenty Stories

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This year Community MusicWorks turns 20! To mark the milestone, we are gathering the stories of 20 members of our community–musicians, students, parents, graduates and supporters. Look for new stories throughout the season.

Interviews were recorded, transcribed and edited to create personal narratives in each subject’s distinctive voice. We hope 20 Years, 20 Stories captures the many flavors and varieties of CMW experience. Join us at a concert anytime to start creating your own CMW story.

Read the interviews here.

 

community-day-cake

 

An Evening with Johnny Gandelsman in a Concert to Benefit CMW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community MusicWorks invites you to an evening with world-renowned violinist Johnny Gandelsman in a solo concert to benefit CMW.

Join us Thursday, November 9 at 7pm as Johnny Gandelsman of Silk Road and Brooklyn Rider performs the Six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin by J.S. Bach.  All proceeds of this concert will support the free music education programs at Community MusicWorks.

To hear Johnny Gandelsman play solo Bach is to hear someone with an impeccable technique and mastery of the instrument who has re-imagined these works and the gestures required to play them. Having grown up in Russia and Israel, and later studying at the Curtis Institute of Music, Johnny’s training readied him for a major international solo career. Instead, Johnny’s individual voice has led him to absorb styles of violin playing from historical recordings, Irish fiddlers, banjo virtuosos, Persian musicians and more, and he has incorporated all these elements into his sensibilities as a violinist, basically inventing his own style of violin playing.

The Six Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin are some of the deepest, most spiritually rich music for the violin (or for any instrument). They are part of every violinist’s journey throughout a lifetime–from learning the simpler movements in student years to tackling the signature epic movements at later stages, including the fugues, the Chaconne, and others. Few violinists record the entire set of six Sonatas and Partitas and fewer still perform them all at once. Johnny has done both, and will perform them as a benefit for CMW.

This is an event not to be missed!

Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 7pm
First Unitarian Church
1 Benevolent Street, Providence
$30 General Seating
$100 Preferred Seating with a pre-concert reception at 6pm
Purchase tickets here

 

 

 

October 19-21: Sonata Series and Ars Subtilior Festival features André Cormier

 

 

 

 

 

 


Composer André Cormier

Join us for a weekend focused on Composer-in-Residence André Cormier as part of the Sonata Series and the Ars Subtilior Festival. Beginning on Thursday, the Sonata Series Event at RISD will feature a performance of Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven, and events on Friday evening and an all-day event on Saturday will feature works by Cormier performed by the composer himself, special guests, the MusicWorks Collective and CMW students.

Strangely Beautiful and Slightly Twisted:
A Note from Ars Subtilior curator and CMW Resident Musician Laura Cetilia

An unprecedented event is upon us. On October 17, Acadian composer André Cormier will be arriving in Providence as composer-in-residence for the 2017 Ars Subtilior Festival at Community MusicWorks. For five days, CMW and its surroundings will be inundated with strangely beautiful and slightly twisted music from the Maritimes.

In the past, Ars Subtilior events were reserved for understated, small chamber music concerts that involved only a handful of CMW musicians with an occasional appearance by our Phase II students. This season, no holds barred.

Almost every person involved with CMW – from our Development Director to our youngest Daily Orchestra Program student – plus numerous guest performers coming all the way from California, Montreal and New York, will be included in this onslaught of experimental music.

The festival begins the day André arrives with a workshop/performance during All-Play at Calvary Baptist Church. Students of my SoundLab class will perform selections from the simple, but fruitful graphic score “Un ensemble d’actions possibles,” creating sounds on mini modular synthesizers that we’ve worked on in class in conjunction with some good old string playing. That day will also feature “25 Bars for Four Dollars” performed by Sarah Kim, Piero Guimaraes, Zan Berry, and myself on pennies.

That’s right, you heard me: pennies.

On Wednesday, Andre will visit with students of the Daily Orchestra Program, who will also be experimenting with pennies and playing through “Un ensemble d’actions possibles” while he offers composerly pointers.

On Thursday, Cormier’s “Scattershot Beethoven,” performed by Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth, and “Marie-Pierre,” performed by Andrei Baumann can be heard at the Sonata Series at RISD Museum. There will be a pre-concert reception: come by and meet André and the performers before the start of the program!

Friday will feature three different configurations of André’s chamber music: his take on a string quartet “Plaie Mortelle” (Mortal Wound), his Candle Quartet featuring our administrative staff (Katie, Kelly, Liz) and newly appointed DOP string teacher, Tessa Sacramone, all lighting and blowing out candles over the course of an hour. “Fleurs d’équinoxe,” a light and sparse circular score, will include the talents of alumnus Andrew Oung, formally local composer/performer JPA Falzone , our own Piero Guimaraes, along with members of the MusicWorks Collective.

Saturday, the final day of the festival, culminates in an extravaganza at RISD museum featuring 3 out of 10 volumes of works André composed based on the epic poem “Conversations” by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson. These are by far the lushest of Andre’s works and should not be missed. Guest artists Teodora Stepancic (pianist from New York), Andrea Young (soprano from Montreal) and Robin Streb (violist from Moncton) along with myself, will be bringing these works to life. That day will also include a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by Phase 2 students, trilling on their instruments like flying insects throughout the galleries. And finally, his string octet “Microbes” with quietly pulsating pizzicatos and meandering glissandi, played by the illustrious MusicWorks Collective.

Come. You’ll never hear anything like this ever again.

–Laura Cetilia

Festival Schedule:

Thursday, October 19 at 7pm
RISD Museum Grand Gallery
For this first event of the Sonata Series, Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth perform Andre Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven and cellist Adrienne Taylor performs Beethoven with guest pianist Andrei Baumann.
RISD Museum, Grand Gallery 
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert and Museum Admission is free

Friday, October 20 at 8pm
Sutton Space Gallery
Community MusicWorks musicians and staff perform Cormier’s Candle Quartet, Fleurs d’équinoxe, and Plaie Mortelle.
159 Sutton Street, Providence
Suggested donation $20

Saturday, October 21 11am-5pm
RISD Museum-various galleries
Saturday’s day-long event features several performances: works based on the epic poem Conversations by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson (with guest soprano Andrea Young), a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by CMW Phase II students and Microbes performed by the MusicWorks Collective.
RISD Museum
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert is free with Museum admission

Saturday’s Schedule:
11am-Noon
Conversations 1 in the Grand Gallery
Noon-1pm
Microbes in the Grand Gallery
1pm-2pm
Conversations 3 in the Grand Gallery
2pm-3pm
Libellules in Various Galleries
3pm-4pm
Conversations 5 in the Grand Gallery

 

 

 

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

This year, Community MusicWorks launches its third decade, and as we step into the next chapter of this organization’s growth our work is urgent in new ways. Twenty years ago the idea of a string quartet in a permanent residency in an urban neighborhood was a fringe idea in classical music. The notion that an urban residency would be the core of a chamber group’s life and work and that community development would be an equal ambition to playing and teaching was new territory.

Now, two decades in, conservatories are graduating students with entrepreneurship training, many with a social change focus; musicians are seeking alternate venues to the traditional concert halls, and increasingly orchestras and concert series are investing in their communities. All this points to a movement that is robust, respected, and ever growing: musicians experimenting with new forms, new career paths, and new inquiries into the place of musicianship in contemporary life.

CMW in our third decade has a new task to help grow this generation of students and musicians. With the launch of our MusicWorks Network and Fellowship, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we lead a new conversation across the country into the connections between social justice and musical practice, and share ways in which young people’s participation in programs like CMW can support their paths to and through college. We are thrilled to be bringing together former participants from both the CMW Fellowship Program and Institutes for Musicianship and Public Service, now leading programs of their own in more than 15 cities across the country and in Canada, to grow and learn together.

In our concert series, Season 21 offers adventurous programming. You’ll notice that most programs feature one or more female composers’ works, an intentional effort to align our concert programming with our commitment to equity and social justice. From the season opener to the June finale, you’ll be invited into new sonic experiences—the driving intensity of Julia Wolfe’s “Cruel Sister,” a new work by Annika Socolofsky, a festival celebrating André Cormier’s quiet masterpieces, and the premiere of a work by Rhode Island composer Forrest Larson. There are many opportunities for new sounds and experiences!

Our tradition of Bach in November continues, including the fifth year of the overnight Bach marathon. This season also features a special benefit performance by Johnny Gandelsman (of Brooklyn Rider and the Silk Road Project) of all the Bach solo works for violin—a spiritual and physical feat rarely undertaken, even by violinists of the greatest stamina.

Our December Solstice Concert returns—back by popular demand! The storytelling and musical adventure takes us again from foxes and crows to the wind and a chickadee, whose song reminds us that music can bring light and hope—a wonderful allegorical tale that reflects CMW’s mission.

One final thought to carry with you as you help launch this third decade—our work is about each person’s continual development, or what Maxine Greene would call “being on the way.” From our students to our musician-teachers, to audience members and supporters, CMW’s mission focuses on encouraging all of us to be continually on our way—toward growth, deeper awareness, and indeed transformative experiences of beauty and community.

Let’s step together into the work of this third decade!

-Sebastian Ruth, Founder & Artistic Director

Check our Season 21 calendar here.

MusicWorks Network: A New Initiative

Within the past twenty-one years, CMW has offered professional musicians opportunities to re-imagine the very foundations of a classical music career, and to think more broadly about music as a way of engaging in and with communities.

This year, CMW has the opportunity to deepen that work with the support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a new initiative, Citizens of the World: Forging Pathways to College and Beyond. This strategic initiative is designed to substantially increase the number of racially diverse, low-income young people who gain access to critical skills that promote success. This work builds on CMW’s 20-year history of developing music-based education programs designed to open new worlds of opportunity to low-income African-American and Latino youth. Out of this work has come Phase II, an approach to developing fundamental skills and supports that promote college-going, that has led 95% of CMW graduates to continue to college.

CMW will share CMW’s successful college-going model across a network of community-based music education sites. Called the MusicWorks Network, this project will link 10-15 community-based music sites serving over 650 young people and convene them in an annual Summer Institute for training, resource-sharing, and collaborative evaluation.

The first Summer Institute took place this past August 22-30 as educators and staff from ten different organizations gathered at the beautiful Rolling Ridge Conference Center in North Andover, MA. Connecting around the ways that social justice practices and technical and artistic work on string instruments can support one another, teachers and staff came from Community MusicWorks, MusiConnects (Boston, MA), MyCincinnati (Cincinnati, OH), Musica Franklin (Franklin, MA), Orchestra of St. Luke’s (New York, New York), MusicHaven (New Haven, CT), Newport Strings (Newport, RI), Sistema New Brunswick (New Brunswick, St. John, Canada), Strong Harbor Strings (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada), and Neighborhood Strings (Worcester, MA).

Participants convened for a range of workshops and trainings, including a 2-day string pedagogy workshop with renowned violinist and teacher Mimi Zweig, a poetry and social justice workshop with poet Jonathan Mendoza, a workshop on anti-racist organizational frameworks with trainer and activist Adeola Oredola, and discussions and reflection around the creative synergy between string pedagogy and social justice teachings.

The Institute was designed and facilitated by Sebastian Ruth and Chloe Kline with the new MusicWorks Network staff: MusicWorks Network Director Jori Ketten and MusicWorks Network Fellow Andrew Oung. Part of the initiative, the MusicWorks Network Fellowship is a one-year position for alumni of CMW’s youth program or graduates of CMW’s two-year Fellowship Program to contribute to the MusicWorks Network. Andrew is our first alumni hire at CMW.

 

Revolution of Values

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise.

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:
[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!
–Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director

Revolution of Values: A Day of Creative Action

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise. 

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:

[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!

-Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director 

Art in a Time of Rage

As CMW musicians have been working over the past several weeks to articulate our response as artists and citizens to the many events of the new administration, our discussions have toggled between the actions we need to take raising our voices as engaged citizens and making music.

New Yorker music critic Alex Ross, who once profiled CMW, takes on this question in his post about how musicians make music in a time of rage. Ross quotes Lucy Caplan*, whose essay about CMW’s 2016 Art and Social Action symposium is The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts.

*A fun fact: Lucy worked with CMW’s Sebastian Ruth as a student in his Yale class, and then as a TA in his Music and Social Action Coursera class. Read more about Lucy here and here.

 

Links:
Alex Ross: Making Art in a Time of Rage
Alex Ross: Learning the Score (CMW Profile in the New Yorker)
Lucy Caplan: The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts
Sebastian Ruth: Music and Social Action (Coursera)

 

 

 

Talking and Listening: Behind the Scenes of 20 Years, 20 Stories

 

 

 

 

 

Linda Daniels is a writer, editor, cellist, CMW parent, former CMW Board member and expert eavesdropper. She helms the 20 Years, 20 Stories project and this is her story.

I’ve been an eavesdropper since childhood. My mother liked to pour herself a Royal Crown cola in the late afternoon, park herself on the couch and telephone her mother, which was my cue to c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y raise the extension handset upstairs. Usually, they discussed mundane matters:  pork chops versus chicken, how this season’s fashions were so unflattering and, now and then, family gossip. The topics were almost beside the point, except for the family gossip, which is why I eavesdropped in the first place. But I was also intrigued by the mysterious current of poetry running beneath even the most routine remarks. I loved the give and take of conversation, the sighs and pauses, the sound of my mother’s sympathetic tsk-tsk’s and my grandmother’s pretty brogue. I almost always got busted and was scolded, but not seriously enough to deter me from future attempts. Talking was as close as my family got to making music. No one sang or played an instrument, and my relatives just embarrassed themselves trying to clap along to music, but man, could these people talk. Listeners, even illicit ones, had a role to play, too. We completed the performance circle.

In college, Studs Terkel’s oral history Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do shaped my senior year thesis. I made the leap from habitual eavesdropper to scholarly interviewer and collected the oral histories of women who came of age during the 1920s. The best parts of the resulting 200-plus-page door-stopper were their reminiscences. After college, I became a reporter: more listening, more writing. Even after I quit newspapers and turned to other pursuits, I never lost the eavesdropping habit. My husband recognizes the faraway look that crosses my face when we’re in a public space and I hear something that bears further investigation, convinced, of course, that no one can tell what I’m up to. After 27 years, he also knows that whatever he and I were talking about will have to wait. More recently, I’ve been inspired by writer Svetlana Alexievich, who won a Nobel for Secondhand Time, her beautifully rendered oral history of post-Soviet Russians.

In September, I began an exciting new listening and writing project in connection with Community MusicWorks’ 20th anniversary: collecting 20 representative stories of CMW musicians, staff, students, parents and supporters. I’ve been expertly assisted by CMW fellow Josie Davis, who interviewed three people, and Communications Manager Liz Cox, who proofreads the stories and designs the online content. (Read the stories here.)

It hasn’t been difficult to get people to open up. I’ve been a familiar face at CMW since my youngest had his first cello lesson here ten years ago. I’ve exchanged knowing glances with other parents when a beginner nails “Twinkle” and held a collective breath during the dying notes of a Beethoven quartet performed by the pros. I’ve square-danced to fiddle tunes and attempted, much less successfully, the salsa.  I’ve sung rounds and set up folding chairs; fretted over budgets and strategic goals; eased my car past side-view mirrors on snow-bound Messer Street; knitted for newborns; and eaten far too much pizza.

Since people know me better as an at-large mom than as an interviewer and writer, some of my questions may discomfit. Recently, a student I was interviewing put up a hand and blurted, “That’s a weird question!” Um, ok. But can you answer it anyway? I remain confident that what I’m curious about others are too. She answered in good faith, trusting that I have her back. I am honored by that trust. You readers should be also. When people talk honestly they make themselves vulnerable. They don’t want to be misconstrued as they describe emotions and realizations that can’t be summarized by facts alone. This is especially true of CMW’s staff, who are talking about their life’s work.

It’s why I take the final step of the oral history process so seriously: converting 8-20 pages of interview transcript to a narrative that honors the speaker’s intentions, captures history while it’s still occurring, and compels readers. It’s a messy process. No matter how cleverly I order the questions and pursue answers during an interview, the talk meanders, as talk will. Even the most prepared and polished speakers wander off topic and speak colloquially, thank goodness. They are thinking out loud, which is where the music happens. It’s the difference between watching an official read a prepared statement from behind a podium and hearing him speak spontaneously from the heart when a reporter surprises him off-stage by asking exactly the right question at the right moment. I’m going for the latter.

Some “20 Years, 20 Stories” subjects have been flummoxed by the difference between the hour-plus interview they remember and the 2-5 page story I produce, having edited and condensed our conversation to a fare-thee-well, absenting my questions along the way. (Available here, if you’re curious.) They worry about being misperceived and about sounding too casual. They worry that they have said too much or too little. It is scary to see your constantly morphing thoughts marching in regimental black lines across white space. Where are the raised eyebrows signaling sincerity or the smile signaling warmth? Where are the tears that welled up when recalling a triumphant moment with a challenging student? Where’s a second or third chance to rephrase? To be more thoughtful? To explain more fully?

Oral history and chamber music have much in common. Both art forms strive to capture human experience through artifice and collaborative effort, and both are very much of the moment. Therein lies the thrill. Having made the artistic decision to omit interview questions in favor of narrative flow, I don’t worry that readers need cue cards. I trust that readers will appreciate what I appreciate about oral history: the idiosyncratic quirks of everyday speech as thoughtful people talk about things that matter. Subjects can trust their beautiful, one-of-a-kind voices to tell the story. The rest of us can pick up the extension and listen in.

The 20 Years, 20 Stories homepage.

Archives

CMW Celebrates 20 with Twenty Years, Twenty Stories

cmw20_header

 

 

 

This year Community MusicWorks turns 20! To mark the milestone, we are gathering the stories of 20 members of our community–musicians, students, parents, graduates and supporters. Look for new stories throughout the season.

Interviews were recorded, transcribed and edited to create personal narratives in each subject’s distinctive voice. We hope 20 Years, 20 Stories captures the many flavors and varieties of CMW experience. Join us at a concert anytime to start creating your own CMW story.

Read the interviews here.

 

community-day-cake

 

An Evening with Johnny Gandelsman in a Concert to Benefit CMW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community MusicWorks invites you to an evening with world-renowned violinist Johnny Gandelsman in a solo concert to benefit CMW.

Join us Thursday, November 9 at 7pm as Johnny Gandelsman of Silk Road and Brooklyn Rider performs the Six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin by J.S. Bach.  All proceeds of this concert will support the free music education programs at Community MusicWorks.

To hear Johnny Gandelsman play solo Bach is to hear someone with an impeccable technique and mastery of the instrument who has re-imagined these works and the gestures required to play them. Having grown up in Russia and Israel, and later studying at the Curtis Institute of Music, Johnny’s training readied him for a major international solo career. Instead, Johnny’s individual voice has led him to absorb styles of violin playing from historical recordings, Irish fiddlers, banjo virtuosos, Persian musicians and more, and he has incorporated all these elements into his sensibilities as a violinist, basically inventing his own style of violin playing.

The Six Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin are some of the deepest, most spiritually rich music for the violin (or for any instrument). They are part of every violinist’s journey throughout a lifetime–from learning the simpler movements in student years to tackling the signature epic movements at later stages, including the fugues, the Chaconne, and others. Few violinists record the entire set of six Sonatas and Partitas and fewer still perform them all at once. Johnny has done both, and will perform them as a benefit for CMW.

This is an event not to be missed!

Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 7pm
First Unitarian Church
1 Benevolent Street, Providence
$30 General Seating
$100 Preferred Seating with a pre-concert reception at 6pm
Purchase tickets here

 

 

 

October 19-21: Sonata Series and Ars Subtilior Festival features André Cormier

 

 

 

 

 

 


Composer André Cormier

Join us for a weekend focused on Composer-in-Residence André Cormier as part of the Sonata Series and the Ars Subtilior Festival. Beginning on Thursday, the Sonata Series Event at RISD will feature a performance of Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven, and events on Friday evening and an all-day event on Saturday will feature works by Cormier performed by the composer himself, special guests, the MusicWorks Collective and CMW students.

Strangely Beautiful and Slightly Twisted:
A Note from Ars Subtilior curator and CMW Resident Musician Laura Cetilia

An unprecedented event is upon us. On October 17, Acadian composer André Cormier will be arriving in Providence as composer-in-residence for the 2017 Ars Subtilior Festival at Community MusicWorks. For five days, CMW and its surroundings will be inundated with strangely beautiful and slightly twisted music from the Maritimes.

In the past, Ars Subtilior events were reserved for understated, small chamber music concerts that involved only a handful of CMW musicians with an occasional appearance by our Phase II students. This season, no holds barred.

Almost every person involved with CMW – from our Development Director to our youngest Daily Orchestra Program student – plus numerous guest performers coming all the way from California, Montreal and New York, will be included in this onslaught of experimental music.

The festival begins the day André arrives with a workshop/performance during All-Play at Calvary Baptist Church. Students of my SoundLab class will perform selections from the simple, but fruitful graphic score “Un ensemble d’actions possibles,” creating sounds on mini modular synthesizers that we’ve worked on in class in conjunction with some good old string playing. That day will also feature “25 Bars for Four Dollars” performed by Sarah Kim, Piero Guimaraes, Zan Berry, and myself on pennies.

That’s right, you heard me: pennies.

On Wednesday, Andre will visit with students of the Daily Orchestra Program, who will also be experimenting with pennies and playing through “Un ensemble d’actions possibles” while he offers composerly pointers.

On Thursday, Cormier’s “Scattershot Beethoven,” performed by Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth, and “Marie-Pierre,” performed by Andrei Baumann can be heard at the Sonata Series at RISD Museum. There will be a pre-concert reception: come by and meet André and the performers before the start of the program!

Friday will feature three different configurations of André’s chamber music: his take on a string quartet “Plaie Mortelle” (Mortal Wound), his Candle Quartet featuring our administrative staff (Katie, Kelly, Liz) and newly appointed DOP string teacher, Tessa Sacramone, all lighting and blowing out candles over the course of an hour. “Fleurs d’équinoxe,” a light and sparse circular score, will include the talents of alumnus Andrew Oung, formally local composer/performer JPA Falzone , our own Piero Guimaraes, along with members of the MusicWorks Collective.

Saturday, the final day of the festival, culminates in an extravaganza at RISD museum featuring 3 out of 10 volumes of works André composed based on the epic poem “Conversations” by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson. These are by far the lushest of Andre’s works and should not be missed. Guest artists Teodora Stepancic (pianist from New York), Andrea Young (soprano from Montreal) and Robin Streb (violist from Moncton) along with myself, will be bringing these works to life. That day will also include a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by Phase 2 students, trilling on their instruments like flying insects throughout the galleries. And finally, his string octet “Microbes” with quietly pulsating pizzicatos and meandering glissandi, played by the illustrious MusicWorks Collective.

Come. You’ll never hear anything like this ever again.

–Laura Cetilia

Festival Schedule:

Thursday, October 19 at 7pm
RISD Museum Grand Gallery
For this first event of the Sonata Series, Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth perform Andre Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven and cellist Adrienne Taylor performs Beethoven with guest pianist Andrei Baumann.
RISD Museum, Grand Gallery 
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert and Museum Admission is free

Friday, October 20 at 8pm
Sutton Space Gallery
Community MusicWorks musicians and staff perform Cormier’s Candle Quartet, Fleurs d’équinoxe, and Plaie Mortelle.
159 Sutton Street, Providence
Suggested donation $20

Saturday, October 21 11am-5pm
RISD Museum-various galleries
Saturday’s day-long event features several performances: works based on the epic poem Conversations by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson (with guest soprano Andrea Young), a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by CMW Phase II students and Microbes performed by the MusicWorks Collective.
RISD Museum
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert is free with Museum admission

Saturday’s Schedule:
11am-Noon
Conversations 1 in the Grand Gallery
Noon-1pm
Microbes in the Grand Gallery
1pm-2pm
Conversations 3 in the Grand Gallery
2pm-3pm
Libellules in Various Galleries
3pm-4pm
Conversations 5 in the Grand Gallery

 

 

 

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

This year, Community MusicWorks launches its third decade, and as we step into the next chapter of this organization’s growth our work is urgent in new ways. Twenty years ago the idea of a string quartet in a permanent residency in an urban neighborhood was a fringe idea in classical music. The notion that an urban residency would be the core of a chamber group’s life and work and that community development would be an equal ambition to playing and teaching was new territory.

Now, two decades in, conservatories are graduating students with entrepreneurship training, many with a social change focus; musicians are seeking alternate venues to the traditional concert halls, and increasingly orchestras and concert series are investing in their communities. All this points to a movement that is robust, respected, and ever growing: musicians experimenting with new forms, new career paths, and new inquiries into the place of musicianship in contemporary life.

CMW in our third decade has a new task to help grow this generation of students and musicians. With the launch of our MusicWorks Network and Fellowship, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we lead a new conversation across the country into the connections between social justice and musical practice, and share ways in which young people’s participation in programs like CMW can support their paths to and through college. We are thrilled to be bringing together former participants from both the CMW Fellowship Program and Institutes for Musicianship and Public Service, now leading programs of their own in more than 15 cities across the country and in Canada, to grow and learn together.

In our concert series, Season 21 offers adventurous programming. You’ll notice that most programs feature one or more female composers’ works, an intentional effort to align our concert programming with our commitment to equity and social justice. From the season opener to the June finale, you’ll be invited into new sonic experiences—the driving intensity of Julia Wolfe’s “Cruel Sister,” a new work by Annika Socolofsky, a festival celebrating André Cormier’s quiet masterpieces, and the premiere of a work by Rhode Island composer Forrest Larson. There are many opportunities for new sounds and experiences!

Our tradition of Bach in November continues, including the fifth year of the overnight Bach marathon. This season also features a special benefit performance by Johnny Gandelsman (of Brooklyn Rider and the Silk Road Project) of all the Bach solo works for violin—a spiritual and physical feat rarely undertaken, even by violinists of the greatest stamina.

Our December Solstice Concert returns—back by popular demand! The storytelling and musical adventure takes us again from foxes and crows to the wind and a chickadee, whose song reminds us that music can bring light and hope—a wonderful allegorical tale that reflects CMW’s mission.

One final thought to carry with you as you help launch this third decade—our work is about each person’s continual development, or what Maxine Greene would call “being on the way.” From our students to our musician-teachers, to audience members and supporters, CMW’s mission focuses on encouraging all of us to be continually on our way—toward growth, deeper awareness, and indeed transformative experiences of beauty and community.

Let’s step together into the work of this third decade!

-Sebastian Ruth, Founder & Artistic Director

Check our Season 21 calendar here.

MusicWorks Network: A New Initiative

Within the past twenty-one years, CMW has offered professional musicians opportunities to re-imagine the very foundations of a classical music career, and to think more broadly about music as a way of engaging in and with communities.

This year, CMW has the opportunity to deepen that work with the support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a new initiative, Citizens of the World: Forging Pathways to College and Beyond. This strategic initiative is designed to substantially increase the number of racially diverse, low-income young people who gain access to critical skills that promote success. This work builds on CMW’s 20-year history of developing music-based education programs designed to open new worlds of opportunity to low-income African-American and Latino youth. Out of this work has come Phase II, an approach to developing fundamental skills and supports that promote college-going, that has led 95% of CMW graduates to continue to college.

CMW will share CMW’s successful college-going model across a network of community-based music education sites. Called the MusicWorks Network, this project will link 10-15 community-based music sites serving over 650 young people and convene them in an annual Summer Institute for training, resource-sharing, and collaborative evaluation.

The first Summer Institute took place this past August 22-30 as educators and staff from ten different organizations gathered at the beautiful Rolling Ridge Conference Center in North Andover, MA. Connecting around the ways that social justice practices and technical and artistic work on string instruments can support one another, teachers and staff came from Community MusicWorks, MusiConnects (Boston, MA), MyCincinnati (Cincinnati, OH), Musica Franklin (Franklin, MA), Orchestra of St. Luke’s (New York, New York), MusicHaven (New Haven, CT), Newport Strings (Newport, RI), Sistema New Brunswick (New Brunswick, St. John, Canada), Strong Harbor Strings (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada), and Neighborhood Strings (Worcester, MA).

Participants convened for a range of workshops and trainings, including a 2-day string pedagogy workshop with renowned violinist and teacher Mimi Zweig, a poetry and social justice workshop with poet Jonathan Mendoza, a workshop on anti-racist organizational frameworks with trainer and activist Adeola Oredola, and discussions and reflection around the creative synergy between string pedagogy and social justice teachings.

The Institute was designed and facilitated by Sebastian Ruth and Chloe Kline with the new MusicWorks Network staff: MusicWorks Network Director Jori Ketten and MusicWorks Network Fellow Andrew Oung. Part of the initiative, the MusicWorks Network Fellowship is a one-year position for alumni of CMW’s youth program or graduates of CMW’s two-year Fellowship Program to contribute to the MusicWorks Network. Andrew is our first alumni hire at CMW.

 

Revolution of Values

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise.

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:
[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!
–Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director

Revolution of Values: A Day of Creative Action

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise. 

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:

[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!

-Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director 

Art in a Time of Rage

As CMW musicians have been working over the past several weeks to articulate our response as artists and citizens to the many events of the new administration, our discussions have toggled between the actions we need to take raising our voices as engaged citizens and making music.

New Yorker music critic Alex Ross, who once profiled CMW, takes on this question in his post about how musicians make music in a time of rage. Ross quotes Lucy Caplan*, whose essay about CMW’s 2016 Art and Social Action symposium is The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts.

*A fun fact: Lucy worked with CMW’s Sebastian Ruth as a student in his Yale class, and then as a TA in his Music and Social Action Coursera class. Read more about Lucy here and here.

 

Links:
Alex Ross: Making Art in a Time of Rage
Alex Ross: Learning the Score (CMW Profile in the New Yorker)
Lucy Caplan: The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts
Sebastian Ruth: Music and Social Action (Coursera)

 

 

 

Talking and Listening: Behind the Scenes of 20 Years, 20 Stories

 

 

 

 

 

Linda Daniels is a writer, editor, cellist, CMW parent, former CMW Board member and expert eavesdropper. She helms the 20 Years, 20 Stories project and this is her story.

I’ve been an eavesdropper since childhood. My mother liked to pour herself a Royal Crown cola in the late afternoon, park herself on the couch and telephone her mother, which was my cue to c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y raise the extension handset upstairs. Usually, they discussed mundane matters:  pork chops versus chicken, how this season’s fashions were so unflattering and, now and then, family gossip. The topics were almost beside the point, except for the family gossip, which is why I eavesdropped in the first place. But I was also intrigued by the mysterious current of poetry running beneath even the most routine remarks. I loved the give and take of conversation, the sighs and pauses, the sound of my mother’s sympathetic tsk-tsk’s and my grandmother’s pretty brogue. I almost always got busted and was scolded, but not seriously enough to deter me from future attempts. Talking was as close as my family got to making music. No one sang or played an instrument, and my relatives just embarrassed themselves trying to clap along to music, but man, could these people talk. Listeners, even illicit ones, had a role to play, too. We completed the performance circle.

In college, Studs Terkel’s oral history Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do shaped my senior year thesis. I made the leap from habitual eavesdropper to scholarly interviewer and collected the oral histories of women who came of age during the 1920s. The best parts of the resulting 200-plus-page door-stopper were their reminiscences. After college, I became a reporter: more listening, more writing. Even after I quit newspapers and turned to other pursuits, I never lost the eavesdropping habit. My husband recognizes the faraway look that crosses my face when we’re in a public space and I hear something that bears further investigation, convinced, of course, that no one can tell what I’m up to. After 27 years, he also knows that whatever he and I were talking about will have to wait. More recently, I’ve been inspired by writer Svetlana Alexievich, who won a Nobel for Secondhand Time, her beautifully rendered oral history of post-Soviet Russians.

In September, I began an exciting new listening and writing project in connection with Community MusicWorks’ 20th anniversary: collecting 20 representative stories of CMW musicians, staff, students, parents and supporters. I’ve been expertly assisted by CMW fellow Josie Davis, who interviewed three people, and Communications Manager Liz Cox, who proofreads the stories and designs the online content. (Read the stories here.)

It hasn’t been difficult to get people to open up. I’ve been a familiar face at CMW since my youngest had his first cello lesson here ten years ago. I’ve exchanged knowing glances with other parents when a beginner nails “Twinkle” and held a collective breath during the dying notes of a Beethoven quartet performed by the pros. I’ve square-danced to fiddle tunes and attempted, much less successfully, the salsa.  I’ve sung rounds and set up folding chairs; fretted over budgets and strategic goals; eased my car past side-view mirrors on snow-bound Messer Street; knitted for newborns; and eaten far too much pizza.

Since people know me better as an at-large mom than as an interviewer and writer, some of my questions may discomfit. Recently, a student I was interviewing put up a hand and blurted, “That’s a weird question!” Um, ok. But can you answer it anyway? I remain confident that what I’m curious about others are too. She answered in good faith, trusting that I have her back. I am honored by that trust. You readers should be also. When people talk honestly they make themselves vulnerable. They don’t want to be misconstrued as they describe emotions and realizations that can’t be summarized by facts alone. This is especially true of CMW’s staff, who are talking about their life’s work.

It’s why I take the final step of the oral history process so seriously: converting 8-20 pages of interview transcript to a narrative that honors the speaker’s intentions, captures history while it’s still occurring, and compels readers. It’s a messy process. No matter how cleverly I order the questions and pursue answers during an interview, the talk meanders, as talk will. Even the most prepared and polished speakers wander off topic and speak colloquially, thank goodness. They are thinking out loud, which is where the music happens. It’s the difference between watching an official read a prepared statement from behind a podium and hearing him speak spontaneously from the heart when a reporter surprises him off-stage by asking exactly the right question at the right moment. I’m going for the latter.

Some “20 Years, 20 Stories” subjects have been flummoxed by the difference between the hour-plus interview they remember and the 2-5 page story I produce, having edited and condensed our conversation to a fare-thee-well, absenting my questions along the way. (Available here, if you’re curious.) They worry about being misperceived and about sounding too casual. They worry that they have said too much or too little. It is scary to see your constantly morphing thoughts marching in regimental black lines across white space. Where are the raised eyebrows signaling sincerity or the smile signaling warmth? Where are the tears that welled up when recalling a triumphant moment with a challenging student? Where’s a second or third chance to rephrase? To be more thoughtful? To explain more fully?

Oral history and chamber music have much in common. Both art forms strive to capture human experience through artifice and collaborative effort, and both are very much of the moment. Therein lies the thrill. Having made the artistic decision to omit interview questions in favor of narrative flow, I don’t worry that readers need cue cards. I trust that readers will appreciate what I appreciate about oral history: the idiosyncratic quirks of everyday speech as thoughtful people talk about things that matter. Subjects can trust their beautiful, one-of-a-kind voices to tell the story. The rest of us can pick up the extension and listen in.

The 20 Years, 20 Stories homepage.

Archives

CMW Celebrates 20 with Twenty Years, Twenty Stories

cmw20_header

 

 

 

This year Community MusicWorks turns 20! To mark the milestone, we are gathering the stories of 20 members of our community–musicians, students, parents, graduates and supporters. Look for new stories throughout the season.

Interviews were recorded, transcribed and edited to create personal narratives in each subject’s distinctive voice. We hope 20 Years, 20 Stories captures the many flavors and varieties of CMW experience. Join us at a concert anytime to start creating your own CMW story.

Read the interviews here.

 

community-day-cake

 

An Evening with Johnny Gandelsman in a Concert to Benefit CMW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community MusicWorks invites you to an evening with world-renowned violinist Johnny Gandelsman in a solo concert to benefit CMW.

Join us Thursday, November 9 at 7pm as Johnny Gandelsman of Silk Road and Brooklyn Rider performs the Six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin by J.S. Bach.  All proceeds of this concert will support the free music education programs at Community MusicWorks.

To hear Johnny Gandelsman play solo Bach is to hear someone with an impeccable technique and mastery of the instrument who has re-imagined these works and the gestures required to play them. Having grown up in Russia and Israel, and later studying at the Curtis Institute of Music, Johnny’s training readied him for a major international solo career. Instead, Johnny’s individual voice has led him to absorb styles of violin playing from historical recordings, Irish fiddlers, banjo virtuosos, Persian musicians and more, and he has incorporated all these elements into his sensibilities as a violinist, basically inventing his own style of violin playing.

The Six Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin are some of the deepest, most spiritually rich music for the violin (or for any instrument). They are part of every violinist’s journey throughout a lifetime–from learning the simpler movements in student years to tackling the signature epic movements at later stages, including the fugues, the Chaconne, and others. Few violinists record the entire set of six Sonatas and Partitas and fewer still perform them all at once. Johnny has done both, and will perform them as a benefit for CMW.

This is an event not to be missed!

Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 7pm
First Unitarian Church
1 Benevolent Street, Providence
$30 General Seating
$100 Preferred Seating with a pre-concert reception at 6pm
Purchase tickets here

 

 

 

October 19-21: Sonata Series and Ars Subtilior Festival features André Cormier

 

 

 

 

 

 


Composer André Cormier

Join us for a weekend focused on Composer-in-Residence André Cormier as part of the Sonata Series and the Ars Subtilior Festival. Beginning on Thursday, the Sonata Series Event at RISD will feature a performance of Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven, and events on Friday evening and an all-day event on Saturday will feature works by Cormier performed by the composer himself, special guests, the MusicWorks Collective and CMW students.

Strangely Beautiful and Slightly Twisted:
A Note from Ars Subtilior curator and CMW Resident Musician Laura Cetilia

An unprecedented event is upon us. On October 17, Acadian composer André Cormier will be arriving in Providence as composer-in-residence for the 2017 Ars Subtilior Festival at Community MusicWorks. For five days, CMW and its surroundings will be inundated with strangely beautiful and slightly twisted music from the Maritimes.

In the past, Ars Subtilior events were reserved for understated, small chamber music concerts that involved only a handful of CMW musicians with an occasional appearance by our Phase II students. This season, no holds barred.

Almost every person involved with CMW – from our Development Director to our youngest Daily Orchestra Program student – plus numerous guest performers coming all the way from California, Montreal and New York, will be included in this onslaught of experimental music.

The festival begins the day André arrives with a workshop/performance during All-Play at Calvary Baptist Church. Students of my SoundLab class will perform selections from the simple, but fruitful graphic score “Un ensemble d’actions possibles,” creating sounds on mini modular synthesizers that we’ve worked on in class in conjunction with some good old string playing. That day will also feature “25 Bars for Four Dollars” performed by Sarah Kim, Piero Guimaraes, Zan Berry, and myself on pennies.

That’s right, you heard me: pennies.

On Wednesday, Andre will visit with students of the Daily Orchestra Program, who will also be experimenting with pennies and playing through “Un ensemble d’actions possibles” while he offers composerly pointers.

On Thursday, Cormier’s “Scattershot Beethoven,” performed by Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth, and “Marie-Pierre,” performed by Andrei Baumann can be heard at the Sonata Series at RISD Museum. There will be a pre-concert reception: come by and meet André and the performers before the start of the program!

Friday will feature three different configurations of André’s chamber music: his take on a string quartet “Plaie Mortelle” (Mortal Wound), his Candle Quartet featuring our administrative staff (Katie, Kelly, Liz) and newly appointed DOP string teacher, Tessa Sacramone, all lighting and blowing out candles over the course of an hour. “Fleurs d’équinoxe,” a light and sparse circular score, will include the talents of alumnus Andrew Oung, formally local composer/performer JPA Falzone , our own Piero Guimaraes, along with members of the MusicWorks Collective.

Saturday, the final day of the festival, culminates in an extravaganza at RISD museum featuring 3 out of 10 volumes of works André composed based on the epic poem “Conversations” by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson. These are by far the lushest of Andre’s works and should not be missed. Guest artists Teodora Stepancic (pianist from New York), Andrea Young (soprano from Montreal) and Robin Streb (violist from Moncton) along with myself, will be bringing these works to life. That day will also include a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by Phase 2 students, trilling on their instruments like flying insects throughout the galleries. And finally, his string octet “Microbes” with quietly pulsating pizzicatos and meandering glissandi, played by the illustrious MusicWorks Collective.

Come. You’ll never hear anything like this ever again.

–Laura Cetilia

Festival Schedule:

Thursday, October 19 at 7pm
RISD Museum Grand Gallery
For this first event of the Sonata Series, Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth perform Andre Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven and cellist Adrienne Taylor performs Beethoven with guest pianist Andrei Baumann.
RISD Museum, Grand Gallery 
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert and Museum Admission is free

Friday, October 20 at 8pm
Sutton Space Gallery
Community MusicWorks musicians and staff perform Cormier’s Candle Quartet, Fleurs d’équinoxe, and Plaie Mortelle.
159 Sutton Street, Providence
Suggested donation $20

Saturday, October 21 11am-5pm
RISD Museum-various galleries
Saturday’s day-long event features several performances: works based on the epic poem Conversations by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson (with guest soprano Andrea Young), a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by CMW Phase II students and Microbes performed by the MusicWorks Collective.
RISD Museum
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert is free with Museum admission

Saturday’s Schedule:
11am-Noon
Conversations 1 in the Grand Gallery
Noon-1pm
Microbes in the Grand Gallery
1pm-2pm
Conversations 3 in the Grand Gallery
2pm-3pm
Libellules in Various Galleries
3pm-4pm
Conversations 5 in the Grand Gallery

 

 

 

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

This year, Community MusicWorks launches its third decade, and as we step into the next chapter of this organization’s growth our work is urgent in new ways. Twenty years ago the idea of a string quartet in a permanent residency in an urban neighborhood was a fringe idea in classical music. The notion that an urban residency would be the core of a chamber group’s life and work and that community development would be an equal ambition to playing and teaching was new territory.

Now, two decades in, conservatories are graduating students with entrepreneurship training, many with a social change focus; musicians are seeking alternate venues to the traditional concert halls, and increasingly orchestras and concert series are investing in their communities. All this points to a movement that is robust, respected, and ever growing: musicians experimenting with new forms, new career paths, and new inquiries into the place of musicianship in contemporary life.

CMW in our third decade has a new task to help grow this generation of students and musicians. With the launch of our MusicWorks Network and Fellowship, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we lead a new conversation across the country into the connections between social justice and musical practice, and share ways in which young people’s participation in programs like CMW can support their paths to and through college. We are thrilled to be bringing together former participants from both the CMW Fellowship Program and Institutes for Musicianship and Public Service, now leading programs of their own in more than 15 cities across the country and in Canada, to grow and learn together.

In our concert series, Season 21 offers adventurous programming. You’ll notice that most programs feature one or more female composers’ works, an intentional effort to align our concert programming with our commitment to equity and social justice. From the season opener to the June finale, you’ll be invited into new sonic experiences—the driving intensity of Julia Wolfe’s “Cruel Sister,” a new work by Annika Socolofsky, a festival celebrating André Cormier’s quiet masterpieces, and the premiere of a work by Rhode Island composer Forrest Larson. There are many opportunities for new sounds and experiences!

Our tradition of Bach in November continues, including the fifth year of the overnight Bach marathon. This season also features a special benefit performance by Johnny Gandelsman (of Brooklyn Rider and the Silk Road Project) of all the Bach solo works for violin—a spiritual and physical feat rarely undertaken, even by violinists of the greatest stamina.

Our December Solstice Concert returns—back by popular demand! The storytelling and musical adventure takes us again from foxes and crows to the wind and a chickadee, whose song reminds us that music can bring light and hope—a wonderful allegorical tale that reflects CMW’s mission.

One final thought to carry with you as you help launch this third decade—our work is about each person’s continual development, or what Maxine Greene would call “being on the way.” From our students to our musician-teachers, to audience members and supporters, CMW’s mission focuses on encouraging all of us to be continually on our way—toward growth, deeper awareness, and indeed transformative experiences of beauty and community.

Let’s step together into the work of this third decade!

-Sebastian Ruth, Founder & Artistic Director

Check our Season 21 calendar here.

MusicWorks Network: A New Initiative

Within the past twenty-one years, CMW has offered professional musicians opportunities to re-imagine the very foundations of a classical music career, and to think more broadly about music as a way of engaging in and with communities.

This year, CMW has the opportunity to deepen that work with the support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a new initiative, Citizens of the World: Forging Pathways to College and Beyond. This strategic initiative is designed to substantially increase the number of racially diverse, low-income young people who gain access to critical skills that promote success. This work builds on CMW’s 20-year history of developing music-based education programs designed to open new worlds of opportunity to low-income African-American and Latino youth. Out of this work has come Phase II, an approach to developing fundamental skills and supports that promote college-going, that has led 95% of CMW graduates to continue to college.

CMW will share CMW’s successful college-going model across a network of community-based music education sites. Called the MusicWorks Network, this project will link 10-15 community-based music sites serving over 650 young people and convene them in an annual Summer Institute for training, resource-sharing, and collaborative evaluation.

The first Summer Institute took place this past August 22-30 as educators and staff from ten different organizations gathered at the beautiful Rolling Ridge Conference Center in North Andover, MA. Connecting around the ways that social justice practices and technical and artistic work on string instruments can support one another, teachers and staff came from Community MusicWorks, MusiConnects (Boston, MA), MyCincinnati (Cincinnati, OH), Musica Franklin (Franklin, MA), Orchestra of St. Luke’s (New York, New York), MusicHaven (New Haven, CT), Newport Strings (Newport, RI), Sistema New Brunswick (New Brunswick, St. John, Canada), Strong Harbor Strings (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada), and Neighborhood Strings (Worcester, MA).

Participants convened for a range of workshops and trainings, including a 2-day string pedagogy workshop with renowned violinist and teacher Mimi Zweig, a poetry and social justice workshop with poet Jonathan Mendoza, a workshop on anti-racist organizational frameworks with trainer and activist Adeola Oredola, and discussions and reflection around the creative synergy between string pedagogy and social justice teachings.

The Institute was designed and facilitated by Sebastian Ruth and Chloe Kline with the new MusicWorks Network staff: MusicWorks Network Director Jori Ketten and MusicWorks Network Fellow Andrew Oung. Part of the initiative, the MusicWorks Network Fellowship is a one-year position for alumni of CMW’s youth program or graduates of CMW’s two-year Fellowship Program to contribute to the MusicWorks Network. Andrew is our first alumni hire at CMW.

 

Revolution of Values

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise.

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:
[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!
–Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director

Revolution of Values: A Day of Creative Action

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise. 

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:

[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!

-Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director 

Art in a Time of Rage

As CMW musicians have been working over the past several weeks to articulate our response as artists and citizens to the many events of the new administration, our discussions have toggled between the actions we need to take raising our voices as engaged citizens and making music.

New Yorker music critic Alex Ross, who once profiled CMW, takes on this question in his post about how musicians make music in a time of rage. Ross quotes Lucy Caplan*, whose essay about CMW’s 2016 Art and Social Action symposium is The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts.

*A fun fact: Lucy worked with CMW’s Sebastian Ruth as a student in his Yale class, and then as a TA in his Music and Social Action Coursera class. Read more about Lucy here and here.

 

Links:
Alex Ross: Making Art in a Time of Rage
Alex Ross: Learning the Score (CMW Profile in the New Yorker)
Lucy Caplan: The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts
Sebastian Ruth: Music and Social Action (Coursera)

 

 

 

Talking and Listening: Behind the Scenes of 20 Years, 20 Stories

 

 

 

 

 

Linda Daniels is a writer, editor, cellist, CMW parent, former CMW Board member and expert eavesdropper. She helms the 20 Years, 20 Stories project and this is her story.

I’ve been an eavesdropper since childhood. My mother liked to pour herself a Royal Crown cola in the late afternoon, park herself on the couch and telephone her mother, which was my cue to c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y raise the extension handset upstairs. Usually, they discussed mundane matters:  pork chops versus chicken, how this season’s fashions were so unflattering and, now and then, family gossip. The topics were almost beside the point, except for the family gossip, which is why I eavesdropped in the first place. But I was also intrigued by the mysterious current of poetry running beneath even the most routine remarks. I loved the give and take of conversation, the sighs and pauses, the sound of my mother’s sympathetic tsk-tsk’s and my grandmother’s pretty brogue. I almost always got busted and was scolded, but not seriously enough to deter me from future attempts. Talking was as close as my family got to making music. No one sang or played an instrument, and my relatives just embarrassed themselves trying to clap along to music, but man, could these people talk. Listeners, even illicit ones, had a role to play, too. We completed the performance circle.

In college, Studs Terkel’s oral history Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do shaped my senior year thesis. I made the leap from habitual eavesdropper to scholarly interviewer and collected the oral histories of women who came of age during the 1920s. The best parts of the resulting 200-plus-page door-stopper were their reminiscences. After college, I became a reporter: more listening, more writing. Even after I quit newspapers and turned to other pursuits, I never lost the eavesdropping habit. My husband recognizes the faraway look that crosses my face when we’re in a public space and I hear something that bears further investigation, convinced, of course, that no one can tell what I’m up to. After 27 years, he also knows that whatever he and I were talking about will have to wait. More recently, I’ve been inspired by writer Svetlana Alexievich, who won a Nobel for Secondhand Time, her beautifully rendered oral history of post-Soviet Russians.

In September, I began an exciting new listening and writing project in connection with Community MusicWorks’ 20th anniversary: collecting 20 representative stories of CMW musicians, staff, students, parents and supporters. I’ve been expertly assisted by CMW fellow Josie Davis, who interviewed three people, and Communications Manager Liz Cox, who proofreads the stories and designs the online content. (Read the stories here.)

It hasn’t been difficult to get people to open up. I’ve been a familiar face at CMW since my youngest had his first cello lesson here ten years ago. I’ve exchanged knowing glances with other parents when a beginner nails “Twinkle” and held a collective breath during the dying notes of a Beethoven quartet performed by the pros. I’ve square-danced to fiddle tunes and attempted, much less successfully, the salsa.  I’ve sung rounds and set up folding chairs; fretted over budgets and strategic goals; eased my car past side-view mirrors on snow-bound Messer Street; knitted for newborns; and eaten far too much pizza.

Since people know me better as an at-large mom than as an interviewer and writer, some of my questions may discomfit. Recently, a student I was interviewing put up a hand and blurted, “That’s a weird question!” Um, ok. But can you answer it anyway? I remain confident that what I’m curious about others are too. She answered in good faith, trusting that I have her back. I am honored by that trust. You readers should be also. When people talk honestly they make themselves vulnerable. They don’t want to be misconstrued as they describe emotions and realizations that can’t be summarized by facts alone. This is especially true of CMW’s staff, who are talking about their life’s work.

It’s why I take the final step of the oral history process so seriously: converting 8-20 pages of interview transcript to a narrative that honors the speaker’s intentions, captures history while it’s still occurring, and compels readers. It’s a messy process. No matter how cleverly I order the questions and pursue answers during an interview, the talk meanders, as talk will. Even the most prepared and polished speakers wander off topic and speak colloquially, thank goodness. They are thinking out loud, which is where the music happens. It’s the difference between watching an official read a prepared statement from behind a podium and hearing him speak spontaneously from the heart when a reporter surprises him off-stage by asking exactly the right question at the right moment. I’m going for the latter.

Some “20 Years, 20 Stories” subjects have been flummoxed by the difference between the hour-plus interview they remember and the 2-5 page story I produce, having edited and condensed our conversation to a fare-thee-well, absenting my questions along the way. (Available here, if you’re curious.) They worry about being misperceived and about sounding too casual. They worry that they have said too much or too little. It is scary to see your constantly morphing thoughts marching in regimental black lines across white space. Where are the raised eyebrows signaling sincerity or the smile signaling warmth? Where are the tears that welled up when recalling a triumphant moment with a challenging student? Where’s a second or third chance to rephrase? To be more thoughtful? To explain more fully?

Oral history and chamber music have much in common. Both art forms strive to capture human experience through artifice and collaborative effort, and both are very much of the moment. Therein lies the thrill. Having made the artistic decision to omit interview questions in favor of narrative flow, I don’t worry that readers need cue cards. I trust that readers will appreciate what I appreciate about oral history: the idiosyncratic quirks of everyday speech as thoughtful people talk about things that matter. Subjects can trust their beautiful, one-of-a-kind voices to tell the story. The rest of us can pick up the extension and listen in.

The 20 Years, 20 Stories homepage.

Archives

CMW Celebrates 20 with Twenty Years, Twenty Stories

cmw20_header

 

 

 

This year Community MusicWorks turns 20! To mark the milestone, we are gathering the stories of 20 members of our community–musicians, students, parents, graduates and supporters. Look for new stories throughout the season.

Interviews were recorded, transcribed and edited to create personal narratives in each subject’s distinctive voice. We hope 20 Years, 20 Stories captures the many flavors and varieties of CMW experience. Join us at a concert anytime to start creating your own CMW story.

Read the interviews here.

 

community-day-cake

 

An Evening with Johnny Gandelsman in a Concert to Benefit CMW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community MusicWorks invites you to an evening with world-renowned violinist Johnny Gandelsman in a solo concert to benefit CMW.

Join us Thursday, November 9 at 7pm as Johnny Gandelsman of Silk Road and Brooklyn Rider performs the Six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin by J.S. Bach.  All proceeds of this concert will support the free music education programs at Community MusicWorks.

To hear Johnny Gandelsman play solo Bach is to hear someone with an impeccable technique and mastery of the instrument who has re-imagined these works and the gestures required to play them. Having grown up in Russia and Israel, and later studying at the Curtis Institute of Music, Johnny’s training readied him for a major international solo career. Instead, Johnny’s individual voice has led him to absorb styles of violin playing from historical recordings, Irish fiddlers, banjo virtuosos, Persian musicians and more, and he has incorporated all these elements into his sensibilities as a violinist, basically inventing his own style of violin playing.

The Six Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin are some of the deepest, most spiritually rich music for the violin (or for any instrument). They are part of every violinist’s journey throughout a lifetime–from learning the simpler movements in student years to tackling the signature epic movements at later stages, including the fugues, the Chaconne, and others. Few violinists record the entire set of six Sonatas and Partitas and fewer still perform them all at once. Johnny has done both, and will perform them as a benefit for CMW.

This is an event not to be missed!

Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 7pm
First Unitarian Church
1 Benevolent Street, Providence
$30 General Seating
$100 Preferred Seating with a pre-concert reception at 6pm
Purchase tickets here

 

 

 

October 19-21: Sonata Series and Ars Subtilior Festival features André Cormier

 

 

 

 

 

 


Composer André Cormier

Join us for a weekend focused on Composer-in-Residence André Cormier as part of the Sonata Series and the Ars Subtilior Festival. Beginning on Thursday, the Sonata Series Event at RISD will feature a performance of Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven, and events on Friday evening and an all-day event on Saturday will feature works by Cormier performed by the composer himself, special guests, the MusicWorks Collective and CMW students.

Strangely Beautiful and Slightly Twisted:
A Note from Ars Subtilior curator and CMW Resident Musician Laura Cetilia

An unprecedented event is upon us. On October 17, Acadian composer André Cormier will be arriving in Providence as composer-in-residence for the 2017 Ars Subtilior Festival at Community MusicWorks. For five days, CMW and its surroundings will be inundated with strangely beautiful and slightly twisted music from the Maritimes.

In the past, Ars Subtilior events were reserved for understated, small chamber music concerts that involved only a handful of CMW musicians with an occasional appearance by our Phase II students. This season, no holds barred.

Almost every person involved with CMW – from our Development Director to our youngest Daily Orchestra Program student – plus numerous guest performers coming all the way from California, Montreal and New York, will be included in this onslaught of experimental music.

The festival begins the day André arrives with a workshop/performance during All-Play at Calvary Baptist Church. Students of my SoundLab class will perform selections from the simple, but fruitful graphic score “Un ensemble d’actions possibles,” creating sounds on mini modular synthesizers that we’ve worked on in class in conjunction with some good old string playing. That day will also feature “25 Bars for Four Dollars” performed by Sarah Kim, Piero Guimaraes, Zan Berry, and myself on pennies.

That’s right, you heard me: pennies.

On Wednesday, Andre will visit with students of the Daily Orchestra Program, who will also be experimenting with pennies and playing through “Un ensemble d’actions possibles” while he offers composerly pointers.

On Thursday, Cormier’s “Scattershot Beethoven,” performed by Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth, and “Marie-Pierre,” performed by Andrei Baumann can be heard at the Sonata Series at RISD Museum. There will be a pre-concert reception: come by and meet André and the performers before the start of the program!

Friday will feature three different configurations of André’s chamber music: his take on a string quartet “Plaie Mortelle” (Mortal Wound), his Candle Quartet featuring our administrative staff (Katie, Kelly, Liz) and newly appointed DOP string teacher, Tessa Sacramone, all lighting and blowing out candles over the course of an hour. “Fleurs d’équinoxe,” a light and sparse circular score, will include the talents of alumnus Andrew Oung, formally local composer/performer JPA Falzone , our own Piero Guimaraes, along with members of the MusicWorks Collective.

Saturday, the final day of the festival, culminates in an extravaganza at RISD museum featuring 3 out of 10 volumes of works André composed based on the epic poem “Conversations” by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson. These are by far the lushest of Andre’s works and should not be missed. Guest artists Teodora Stepancic (pianist from New York), Andrea Young (soprano from Montreal) and Robin Streb (violist from Moncton) along with myself, will be bringing these works to life. That day will also include a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by Phase 2 students, trilling on their instruments like flying insects throughout the galleries. And finally, his string octet “Microbes” with quietly pulsating pizzicatos and meandering glissandi, played by the illustrious MusicWorks Collective.

Come. You’ll never hear anything like this ever again.

–Laura Cetilia

Festival Schedule:

Thursday, October 19 at 7pm
RISD Museum Grand Gallery
For this first event of the Sonata Series, Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth perform Andre Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven and cellist Adrienne Taylor performs Beethoven with guest pianist Andrei Baumann.
RISD Museum, Grand Gallery 
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert and Museum Admission is free

Friday, October 20 at 8pm
Sutton Space Gallery
Community MusicWorks musicians and staff perform Cormier’s Candle Quartet, Fleurs d’équinoxe, and Plaie Mortelle.
159 Sutton Street, Providence
Suggested donation $20

Saturday, October 21 11am-5pm
RISD Museum-various galleries
Saturday’s day-long event features several performances: works based on the epic poem Conversations by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson (with guest soprano Andrea Young), a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by CMW Phase II students and Microbes performed by the MusicWorks Collective.
RISD Museum
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert is free with Museum admission

Saturday’s Schedule:
11am-Noon
Conversations 1 in the Grand Gallery
Noon-1pm
Microbes in the Grand Gallery
1pm-2pm
Conversations 3 in the Grand Gallery
2pm-3pm
Libellules in Various Galleries
3pm-4pm
Conversations 5 in the Grand Gallery

 

 

 

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

This year, Community MusicWorks launches its third decade, and as we step into the next chapter of this organization’s growth our work is urgent in new ways. Twenty years ago the idea of a string quartet in a permanent residency in an urban neighborhood was a fringe idea in classical music. The notion that an urban residency would be the core of a chamber group’s life and work and that community development would be an equal ambition to playing and teaching was new territory.

Now, two decades in, conservatories are graduating students with entrepreneurship training, many with a social change focus; musicians are seeking alternate venues to the traditional concert halls, and increasingly orchestras and concert series are investing in their communities. All this points to a movement that is robust, respected, and ever growing: musicians experimenting with new forms, new career paths, and new inquiries into the place of musicianship in contemporary life.

CMW in our third decade has a new task to help grow this generation of students and musicians. With the launch of our MusicWorks Network and Fellowship, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we lead a new conversation across the country into the connections between social justice and musical practice, and share ways in which young people’s participation in programs like CMW can support their paths to and through college. We are thrilled to be bringing together former participants from both the CMW Fellowship Program and Institutes for Musicianship and Public Service, now leading programs of their own in more than 15 cities across the country and in Canada, to grow and learn together.

In our concert series, Season 21 offers adventurous programming. You’ll notice that most programs feature one or more female composers’ works, an intentional effort to align our concert programming with our commitment to equity and social justice. From the season opener to the June finale, you’ll be invited into new sonic experiences—the driving intensity of Julia Wolfe’s “Cruel Sister,” a new work by Annika Socolofsky, a festival celebrating André Cormier’s quiet masterpieces, and the premiere of a work by Rhode Island composer Forrest Larson. There are many opportunities for new sounds and experiences!

Our tradition of Bach in November continues, including the fifth year of the overnight Bach marathon. This season also features a special benefit performance by Johnny Gandelsman (of Brooklyn Rider and the Silk Road Project) of all the Bach solo works for violin—a spiritual and physical feat rarely undertaken, even by violinists of the greatest stamina.

Our December Solstice Concert returns—back by popular demand! The storytelling and musical adventure takes us again from foxes and crows to the wind and a chickadee, whose song reminds us that music can bring light and hope—a wonderful allegorical tale that reflects CMW’s mission.

One final thought to carry with you as you help launch this third decade—our work is about each person’s continual development, or what Maxine Greene would call “being on the way.” From our students to our musician-teachers, to audience members and supporters, CMW’s mission focuses on encouraging all of us to be continually on our way—toward growth, deeper awareness, and indeed transformative experiences of beauty and community.

Let’s step together into the work of this third decade!

-Sebastian Ruth, Founder & Artistic Director

Check our Season 21 calendar here.

MusicWorks Network: A New Initiative

Within the past twenty-one years, CMW has offered professional musicians opportunities to re-imagine the very foundations of a classical music career, and to think more broadly about music as a way of engaging in and with communities.

This year, CMW has the opportunity to deepen that work with the support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a new initiative, Citizens of the World: Forging Pathways to College and Beyond. This strategic initiative is designed to substantially increase the number of racially diverse, low-income young people who gain access to critical skills that promote success. This work builds on CMW’s 20-year history of developing music-based education programs designed to open new worlds of opportunity to low-income African-American and Latino youth. Out of this work has come Phase II, an approach to developing fundamental skills and supports that promote college-going, that has led 95% of CMW graduates to continue to college.

CMW will share CMW’s successful college-going model across a network of community-based music education sites. Called the MusicWorks Network, this project will link 10-15 community-based music sites serving over 650 young people and convene them in an annual Summer Institute for training, resource-sharing, and collaborative evaluation.

The first Summer Institute took place this past August 22-30 as educators and staff from ten different organizations gathered at the beautiful Rolling Ridge Conference Center in North Andover, MA. Connecting around the ways that social justice practices and technical and artistic work on string instruments can support one another, teachers and staff came from Community MusicWorks, MusiConnects (Boston, MA), MyCincinnati (Cincinnati, OH), Musica Franklin (Franklin, MA), Orchestra of St. Luke’s (New York, New York), MusicHaven (New Haven, CT), Newport Strings (Newport, RI), Sistema New Brunswick (New Brunswick, St. John, Canada), Strong Harbor Strings (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada), and Neighborhood Strings (Worcester, MA).

Participants convened for a range of workshops and trainings, including a 2-day string pedagogy workshop with renowned violinist and teacher Mimi Zweig, a poetry and social justice workshop with poet Jonathan Mendoza, a workshop on anti-racist organizational frameworks with trainer and activist Adeola Oredola, and discussions and reflection around the creative synergy between string pedagogy and social justice teachings.

The Institute was designed and facilitated by Sebastian Ruth and Chloe Kline with the new MusicWorks Network staff: MusicWorks Network Director Jori Ketten and MusicWorks Network Fellow Andrew Oung. Part of the initiative, the MusicWorks Network Fellowship is a one-year position for alumni of CMW’s youth program or graduates of CMW’s two-year Fellowship Program to contribute to the MusicWorks Network. Andrew is our first alumni hire at CMW.

 

Revolution of Values

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise.

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:
[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!
–Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director

Revolution of Values: A Day of Creative Action

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise. 

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:

[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!

-Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director 

Art in a Time of Rage

As CMW musicians have been working over the past several weeks to articulate our response as artists and citizens to the many events of the new administration, our discussions have toggled between the actions we need to take raising our voices as engaged citizens and making music.

New Yorker music critic Alex Ross, who once profiled CMW, takes on this question in his post about how musicians make music in a time of rage. Ross quotes Lucy Caplan*, whose essay about CMW’s 2016 Art and Social Action symposium is The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts.

*A fun fact: Lucy worked with CMW’s Sebastian Ruth as a student in his Yale class, and then as a TA in his Music and Social Action Coursera class. Read more about Lucy here and here.

 

Links:
Alex Ross: Making Art in a Time of Rage
Alex Ross: Learning the Score (CMW Profile in the New Yorker)
Lucy Caplan: The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts
Sebastian Ruth: Music and Social Action (Coursera)

 

 

 

Talking and Listening: Behind the Scenes of 20 Years, 20 Stories

 

 

 

 

 

Linda Daniels is a writer, editor, cellist, CMW parent, former CMW Board member and expert eavesdropper. She helms the 20 Years, 20 Stories project and this is her story.

I’ve been an eavesdropper since childhood. My mother liked to pour herself a Royal Crown cola in the late afternoon, park herself on the couch and telephone her mother, which was my cue to c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y raise the extension handset upstairs. Usually, they discussed mundane matters:  pork chops versus chicken, how this season’s fashions were so unflattering and, now and then, family gossip. The topics were almost beside the point, except for the family gossip, which is why I eavesdropped in the first place. But I was also intrigued by the mysterious current of poetry running beneath even the most routine remarks. I loved the give and take of conversation, the sighs and pauses, the sound of my mother’s sympathetic tsk-tsk’s and my grandmother’s pretty brogue. I almost always got busted and was scolded, but not seriously enough to deter me from future attempts. Talking was as close as my family got to making music. No one sang or played an instrument, and my relatives just embarrassed themselves trying to clap along to music, but man, could these people talk. Listeners, even illicit ones, had a role to play, too. We completed the performance circle.

In college, Studs Terkel’s oral history Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do shaped my senior year thesis. I made the leap from habitual eavesdropper to scholarly interviewer and collected the oral histories of women who came of age during the 1920s. The best parts of the resulting 200-plus-page door-stopper were their reminiscences. After college, I became a reporter: more listening, more writing. Even after I quit newspapers and turned to other pursuits, I never lost the eavesdropping habit. My husband recognizes the faraway look that crosses my face when we’re in a public space and I hear something that bears further investigation, convinced, of course, that no one can tell what I’m up to. After 27 years, he also knows that whatever he and I were talking about will have to wait. More recently, I’ve been inspired by writer Svetlana Alexievich, who won a Nobel for Secondhand Time, her beautifully rendered oral history of post-Soviet Russians.

In September, I began an exciting new listening and writing project in connection with Community MusicWorks’ 20th anniversary: collecting 20 representative stories of CMW musicians, staff, students, parents and supporters. I’ve been expertly assisted by CMW fellow Josie Davis, who interviewed three people, and Communications Manager Liz Cox, who proofreads the stories and designs the online content. (Read the stories here.)

It hasn’t been difficult to get people to open up. I’ve been a familiar face at CMW since my youngest had his first cello lesson here ten years ago. I’ve exchanged knowing glances with other parents when a beginner nails “Twinkle” and held a collective breath during the dying notes of a Beethoven quartet performed by the pros. I’ve square-danced to fiddle tunes and attempted, much less successfully, the salsa.  I’ve sung rounds and set up folding chairs; fretted over budgets and strategic goals; eased my car past side-view mirrors on snow-bound Messer Street; knitted for newborns; and eaten far too much pizza.

Since people know me better as an at-large mom than as an interviewer and writer, some of my questions may discomfit. Recently, a student I was interviewing put up a hand and blurted, “That’s a weird question!” Um, ok. But can you answer it anyway? I remain confident that what I’m curious about others are too. She answered in good faith, trusting that I have her back. I am honored by that trust. You readers should be also. When people talk honestly they make themselves vulnerable. They don’t want to be misconstrued as they describe emotions and realizations that can’t be summarized by facts alone. This is especially true of CMW’s staff, who are talking about their life’s work.

It’s why I take the final step of the oral history process so seriously: converting 8-20 pages of interview transcript to a narrative that honors the speaker’s intentions, captures history while it’s still occurring, and compels readers. It’s a messy process. No matter how cleverly I order the questions and pursue answers during an interview, the talk meanders, as talk will. Even the most prepared and polished speakers wander off topic and speak colloquially, thank goodness. They are thinking out loud, which is where the music happens. It’s the difference between watching an official read a prepared statement from behind a podium and hearing him speak spontaneously from the heart when a reporter surprises him off-stage by asking exactly the right question at the right moment. I’m going for the latter.

Some “20 Years, 20 Stories” subjects have been flummoxed by the difference between the hour-plus interview they remember and the 2-5 page story I produce, having edited and condensed our conversation to a fare-thee-well, absenting my questions along the way. (Available here, if you’re curious.) They worry about being misperceived and about sounding too casual. They worry that they have said too much or too little. It is scary to see your constantly morphing thoughts marching in regimental black lines across white space. Where are the raised eyebrows signaling sincerity or the smile signaling warmth? Where are the tears that welled up when recalling a triumphant moment with a challenging student? Where’s a second or third chance to rephrase? To be more thoughtful? To explain more fully?

Oral history and chamber music have much in common. Both art forms strive to capture human experience through artifice and collaborative effort, and both are very much of the moment. Therein lies the thrill. Having made the artistic decision to omit interview questions in favor of narrative flow, I don’t worry that readers need cue cards. I trust that readers will appreciate what I appreciate about oral history: the idiosyncratic quirks of everyday speech as thoughtful people talk about things that matter. Subjects can trust their beautiful, one-of-a-kind voices to tell the story. The rest of us can pick up the extension and listen in.

The 20 Years, 20 Stories homepage.

Archives

CMW Celebrates 20 with Twenty Years, Twenty Stories

cmw20_header

 

 

 

This year Community MusicWorks turns 20! To mark the milestone, we are gathering the stories of 20 members of our community–musicians, students, parents, graduates and supporters. Look for new stories throughout the season.

Interviews were recorded, transcribed and edited to create personal narratives in each subject’s distinctive voice. We hope 20 Years, 20 Stories captures the many flavors and varieties of CMW experience. Join us at a concert anytime to start creating your own CMW story.

Read the interviews here.

 

community-day-cake

 

An Evening with Johnny Gandelsman in a Concert to Benefit CMW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community MusicWorks invites you to an evening with world-renowned violinist Johnny Gandelsman in a solo concert to benefit CMW.

Join us Thursday, November 9 at 7pm as Johnny Gandelsman of Silk Road and Brooklyn Rider performs the Six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin by J.S. Bach.  All proceeds of this concert will support the free music education programs at Community MusicWorks.

To hear Johnny Gandelsman play solo Bach is to hear someone with an impeccable technique and mastery of the instrument who has re-imagined these works and the gestures required to play them. Having grown up in Russia and Israel, and later studying at the Curtis Institute of Music, Johnny’s training readied him for a major international solo career. Instead, Johnny’s individual voice has led him to absorb styles of violin playing from historical recordings, Irish fiddlers, banjo virtuosos, Persian musicians and more, and he has incorporated all these elements into his sensibilities as a violinist, basically inventing his own style of violin playing.

The Six Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin are some of the deepest, most spiritually rich music for the violin (or for any instrument). They are part of every violinist’s journey throughout a lifetime–from learning the simpler movements in student years to tackling the signature epic movements at later stages, including the fugues, the Chaconne, and others. Few violinists record the entire set of six Sonatas and Partitas and fewer still perform them all at once. Johnny has done both, and will perform them as a benefit for CMW.

This is an event not to be missed!

Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 7pm
First Unitarian Church
1 Benevolent Street, Providence
$30 General Seating
$100 Preferred Seating with a pre-concert reception at 6pm
Purchase tickets here

 

 

 

October 19-21: Sonata Series and Ars Subtilior Festival features André Cormier

 

 

 

 

 

 


Composer André Cormier

Join us for a weekend focused on Composer-in-Residence André Cormier as part of the Sonata Series and the Ars Subtilior Festival. Beginning on Thursday, the Sonata Series Event at RISD will feature a performance of Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven, and events on Friday evening and an all-day event on Saturday will feature works by Cormier performed by the composer himself, special guests, the MusicWorks Collective and CMW students.

Strangely Beautiful and Slightly Twisted:
A Note from Ars Subtilior curator and CMW Resident Musician Laura Cetilia

An unprecedented event is upon us. On October 17, Acadian composer André Cormier will be arriving in Providence as composer-in-residence for the 2017 Ars Subtilior Festival at Community MusicWorks. For five days, CMW and its surroundings will be inundated with strangely beautiful and slightly twisted music from the Maritimes.

In the past, Ars Subtilior events were reserved for understated, small chamber music concerts that involved only a handful of CMW musicians with an occasional appearance by our Phase II students. This season, no holds barred.

Almost every person involved with CMW – from our Development Director to our youngest Daily Orchestra Program student – plus numerous guest performers coming all the way from California, Montreal and New York, will be included in this onslaught of experimental music.

The festival begins the day André arrives with a workshop/performance during All-Play at Calvary Baptist Church. Students of my SoundLab class will perform selections from the simple, but fruitful graphic score “Un ensemble d’actions possibles,” creating sounds on mini modular synthesizers that we’ve worked on in class in conjunction with some good old string playing. That day will also feature “25 Bars for Four Dollars” performed by Sarah Kim, Piero Guimaraes, Zan Berry, and myself on pennies.

That’s right, you heard me: pennies.

On Wednesday, Andre will visit with students of the Daily Orchestra Program, who will also be experimenting with pennies and playing through “Un ensemble d’actions possibles” while he offers composerly pointers.

On Thursday, Cormier’s “Scattershot Beethoven,” performed by Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth, and “Marie-Pierre,” performed by Andrei Baumann can be heard at the Sonata Series at RISD Museum. There will be a pre-concert reception: come by and meet André and the performers before the start of the program!

Friday will feature three different configurations of André’s chamber music: his take on a string quartet “Plaie Mortelle” (Mortal Wound), his Candle Quartet featuring our administrative staff (Katie, Kelly, Liz) and newly appointed DOP string teacher, Tessa Sacramone, all lighting and blowing out candles over the course of an hour. “Fleurs d’équinoxe,” a light and sparse circular score, will include the talents of alumnus Andrew Oung, formally local composer/performer JPA Falzone , our own Piero Guimaraes, along with members of the MusicWorks Collective.

Saturday, the final day of the festival, culminates in an extravaganza at RISD museum featuring 3 out of 10 volumes of works André composed based on the epic poem “Conversations” by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson. These are by far the lushest of Andre’s works and should not be missed. Guest artists Teodora Stepancic (pianist from New York), Andrea Young (soprano from Montreal) and Robin Streb (violist from Moncton) along with myself, will be bringing these works to life. That day will also include a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by Phase 2 students, trilling on their instruments like flying insects throughout the galleries. And finally, his string octet “Microbes” with quietly pulsating pizzicatos and meandering glissandi, played by the illustrious MusicWorks Collective.

Come. You’ll never hear anything like this ever again.

–Laura Cetilia

Festival Schedule:

Thursday, October 19 at 7pm
RISD Museum Grand Gallery
For this first event of the Sonata Series, Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth perform Andre Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven and cellist Adrienne Taylor performs Beethoven with guest pianist Andrei Baumann.
RISD Museum, Grand Gallery 
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert and Museum Admission is free

Friday, October 20 at 8pm
Sutton Space Gallery
Community MusicWorks musicians and staff perform Cormier’s Candle Quartet, Fleurs d’équinoxe, and Plaie Mortelle.
159 Sutton Street, Providence
Suggested donation $20

Saturday, October 21 11am-5pm
RISD Museum-various galleries
Saturday’s day-long event features several performances: works based on the epic poem Conversations by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson (with guest soprano Andrea Young), a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by CMW Phase II students and Microbes performed by the MusicWorks Collective.
RISD Museum
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert is free with Museum admission

Saturday’s Schedule:
11am-Noon
Conversations 1 in the Grand Gallery
Noon-1pm
Microbes in the Grand Gallery
1pm-2pm
Conversations 3 in the Grand Gallery
2pm-3pm
Libellules in Various Galleries
3pm-4pm
Conversations 5 in the Grand Gallery

 

 

 

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

This year, Community MusicWorks launches its third decade, and as we step into the next chapter of this organization’s growth our work is urgent in new ways. Twenty years ago the idea of a string quartet in a permanent residency in an urban neighborhood was a fringe idea in classical music. The notion that an urban residency would be the core of a chamber group’s life and work and that community development would be an equal ambition to playing and teaching was new territory.

Now, two decades in, conservatories are graduating students with entrepreneurship training, many with a social change focus; musicians are seeking alternate venues to the traditional concert halls, and increasingly orchestras and concert series are investing in their communities. All this points to a movement that is robust, respected, and ever growing: musicians experimenting with new forms, new career paths, and new inquiries into the place of musicianship in contemporary life.

CMW in our third decade has a new task to help grow this generation of students and musicians. With the launch of our MusicWorks Network and Fellowship, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we lead a new conversation across the country into the connections between social justice and musical practice, and share ways in which young people’s participation in programs like CMW can support their paths to and through college. We are thrilled to be bringing together former participants from both the CMW Fellowship Program and Institutes for Musicianship and Public Service, now leading programs of their own in more than 15 cities across the country and in Canada, to grow and learn together.

In our concert series, Season 21 offers adventurous programming. You’ll notice that most programs feature one or more female composers’ works, an intentional effort to align our concert programming with our commitment to equity and social justice. From the season opener to the June finale, you’ll be invited into new sonic experiences—the driving intensity of Julia Wolfe’s “Cruel Sister,” a new work by Annika Socolofsky, a festival celebrating André Cormier’s quiet masterpieces, and the premiere of a work by Rhode Island composer Forrest Larson. There are many opportunities for new sounds and experiences!

Our tradition of Bach in November continues, including the fifth year of the overnight Bach marathon. This season also features a special benefit performance by Johnny Gandelsman (of Brooklyn Rider and the Silk Road Project) of all the Bach solo works for violin—a spiritual and physical feat rarely undertaken, even by violinists of the greatest stamina.

Our December Solstice Concert returns—back by popular demand! The storytelling and musical adventure takes us again from foxes and crows to the wind and a chickadee, whose song reminds us that music can bring light and hope—a wonderful allegorical tale that reflects CMW’s mission.

One final thought to carry with you as you help launch this third decade—our work is about each person’s continual development, or what Maxine Greene would call “being on the way.” From our students to our musician-teachers, to audience members and supporters, CMW’s mission focuses on encouraging all of us to be continually on our way—toward growth, deeper awareness, and indeed transformative experiences of beauty and community.

Let’s step together into the work of this third decade!

-Sebastian Ruth, Founder & Artistic Director

Check our Season 21 calendar here.

MusicWorks Network: A New Initiative

Within the past twenty-one years, CMW has offered professional musicians opportunities to re-imagine the very foundations of a classical music career, and to think more broadly about music as a way of engaging in and with communities.

This year, CMW has the opportunity to deepen that work with the support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a new initiative, Citizens of the World: Forging Pathways to College and Beyond. This strategic initiative is designed to substantially increase the number of racially diverse, low-income young people who gain access to critical skills that promote success. This work builds on CMW’s 20-year history of developing music-based education programs designed to open new worlds of opportunity to low-income African-American and Latino youth. Out of this work has come Phase II, an approach to developing fundamental skills and supports that promote college-going, that has led 95% of CMW graduates to continue to college.

CMW will share CMW’s successful college-going model across a network of community-based music education sites. Called the MusicWorks Network, this project will link 10-15 community-based music sites serving over 650 young people and convene them in an annual Summer Institute for training, resource-sharing, and collaborative evaluation.

The first Summer Institute took place this past August 22-30 as educators and staff from ten different organizations gathered at the beautiful Rolling Ridge Conference Center in North Andover, MA. Connecting around the ways that social justice practices and technical and artistic work on string instruments can support one another, teachers and staff came from Community MusicWorks, MusiConnects (Boston, MA), MyCincinnati (Cincinnati, OH), Musica Franklin (Franklin, MA), Orchestra of St. Luke’s (New York, New York), MusicHaven (New Haven, CT), Newport Strings (Newport, RI), Sistema New Brunswick (New Brunswick, St. John, Canada), Strong Harbor Strings (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada), and Neighborhood Strings (Worcester, MA).

Participants convened for a range of workshops and trainings, including a 2-day string pedagogy workshop with renowned violinist and teacher Mimi Zweig, a poetry and social justice workshop with poet Jonathan Mendoza, a workshop on anti-racist organizational frameworks with trainer and activist Adeola Oredola, and discussions and reflection around the creative synergy between string pedagogy and social justice teachings.

The Institute was designed and facilitated by Sebastian Ruth and Chloe Kline with the new MusicWorks Network staff: MusicWorks Network Director Jori Ketten and MusicWorks Network Fellow Andrew Oung. Part of the initiative, the MusicWorks Network Fellowship is a one-year position for alumni of CMW’s youth program or graduates of CMW’s two-year Fellowship Program to contribute to the MusicWorks Network. Andrew is our first alumni hire at CMW.

 

Revolution of Values

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise.

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:
[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!
–Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director

Revolution of Values: A Day of Creative Action

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise. 

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:

[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!

-Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director 

Art in a Time of Rage

As CMW musicians have been working over the past several weeks to articulate our response as artists and citizens to the many events of the new administration, our discussions have toggled between the actions we need to take raising our voices as engaged citizens and making music.

New Yorker music critic Alex Ross, who once profiled CMW, takes on this question in his post about how musicians make music in a time of rage. Ross quotes Lucy Caplan*, whose essay about CMW’s 2016 Art and Social Action symposium is The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts.

*A fun fact: Lucy worked with CMW’s Sebastian Ruth as a student in his Yale class, and then as a TA in his Music and Social Action Coursera class. Read more about Lucy here and here.

 

Links:
Alex Ross: Making Art in a Time of Rage
Alex Ross: Learning the Score (CMW Profile in the New Yorker)
Lucy Caplan: The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts
Sebastian Ruth: Music and Social Action (Coursera)

 

 

 

Talking and Listening: Behind the Scenes of 20 Years, 20 Stories

 

 

 

 

 

Linda Daniels is a writer, editor, cellist, CMW parent, former CMW Board member and expert eavesdropper. She helms the 20 Years, 20 Stories project and this is her story.

I’ve been an eavesdropper since childhood. My mother liked to pour herself a Royal Crown cola in the late afternoon, park herself on the couch and telephone her mother, which was my cue to c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y raise the extension handset upstairs. Usually, they discussed mundane matters:  pork chops versus chicken, how this season’s fashions were so unflattering and, now and then, family gossip. The topics were almost beside the point, except for the family gossip, which is why I eavesdropped in the first place. But I was also intrigued by the mysterious current of poetry running beneath even the most routine remarks. I loved the give and take of conversation, the sighs and pauses, the sound of my mother’s sympathetic tsk-tsk’s and my grandmother’s pretty brogue. I almost always got busted and was scolded, but not seriously enough to deter me from future attempts. Talking was as close as my family got to making music. No one sang or played an instrument, and my relatives just embarrassed themselves trying to clap along to music, but man, could these people talk. Listeners, even illicit ones, had a role to play, too. We completed the performance circle.

In college, Studs Terkel’s oral history Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do shaped my senior year thesis. I made the leap from habitual eavesdropper to scholarly interviewer and collected the oral histories of women who came of age during the 1920s. The best parts of the resulting 200-plus-page door-stopper were their reminiscences. After college, I became a reporter: more listening, more writing. Even after I quit newspapers and turned to other pursuits, I never lost the eavesdropping habit. My husband recognizes the faraway look that crosses my face when we’re in a public space and I hear something that bears further investigation, convinced, of course, that no one can tell what I’m up to. After 27 years, he also knows that whatever he and I were talking about will have to wait. More recently, I’ve been inspired by writer Svetlana Alexievich, who won a Nobel for Secondhand Time, her beautifully rendered oral history of post-Soviet Russians.

In September, I began an exciting new listening and writing project in connection with Community MusicWorks’ 20th anniversary: collecting 20 representative stories of CMW musicians, staff, students, parents and supporters. I’ve been expertly assisted by CMW fellow Josie Davis, who interviewed three people, and Communications Manager Liz Cox, who proofreads the stories and designs the online content. (Read the stories here.)

It hasn’t been difficult to get people to open up. I’ve been a familiar face at CMW since my youngest had his first cello lesson here ten years ago. I’ve exchanged knowing glances with other parents when a beginner nails “Twinkle” and held a collective breath during the dying notes of a Beethoven quartet performed by the pros. I’ve square-danced to fiddle tunes and attempted, much less successfully, the salsa.  I’ve sung rounds and set up folding chairs; fretted over budgets and strategic goals; eased my car past side-view mirrors on snow-bound Messer Street; knitted for newborns; and eaten far too much pizza.

Since people know me better as an at-large mom than as an interviewer and writer, some of my questions may discomfit. Recently, a student I was interviewing put up a hand and blurted, “That’s a weird question!” Um, ok. But can you answer it anyway? I remain confident that what I’m curious about others are too. She answered in good faith, trusting that I have her back. I am honored by that trust. You readers should be also. When people talk honestly they make themselves vulnerable. They don’t want to be misconstrued as they describe emotions and realizations that can’t be summarized by facts alone. This is especially true of CMW’s staff, who are talking about their life’s work.

It’s why I take the final step of the oral history process so seriously: converting 8-20 pages of interview transcript to a narrative that honors the speaker’s intentions, captures history while it’s still occurring, and compels readers. It’s a messy process. No matter how cleverly I order the questions and pursue answers during an interview, the talk meanders, as talk will. Even the most prepared and polished speakers wander off topic and speak colloquially, thank goodness. They are thinking out loud, which is where the music happens. It’s the difference between watching an official read a prepared statement from behind a podium and hearing him speak spontaneously from the heart when a reporter surprises him off-stage by asking exactly the right question at the right moment. I’m going for the latter.

Some “20 Years, 20 Stories” subjects have been flummoxed by the difference between the hour-plus interview they remember and the 2-5 page story I produce, having edited and condensed our conversation to a fare-thee-well, absenting my questions along the way. (Available here, if you’re curious.) They worry about being misperceived and about sounding too casual. They worry that they have said too much or too little. It is scary to see your constantly morphing thoughts marching in regimental black lines across white space. Where are the raised eyebrows signaling sincerity or the smile signaling warmth? Where are the tears that welled up when recalling a triumphant moment with a challenging student? Where’s a second or third chance to rephrase? To be more thoughtful? To explain more fully?

Oral history and chamber music have much in common. Both art forms strive to capture human experience through artifice and collaborative effort, and both are very much of the moment. Therein lies the thrill. Having made the artistic decision to omit interview questions in favor of narrative flow, I don’t worry that readers need cue cards. I trust that readers will appreciate what I appreciate about oral history: the idiosyncratic quirks of everyday speech as thoughtful people talk about things that matter. Subjects can trust their beautiful, one-of-a-kind voices to tell the story. The rest of us can pick up the extension and listen in.

The 20 Years, 20 Stories homepage.

Archives

CMW Celebrates 20 with Twenty Years, Twenty Stories

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This year Community MusicWorks turns 20! To mark the milestone, we are gathering the stories of 20 members of our community–musicians, students, parents, graduates and supporters. Look for new stories throughout the season.

Interviews were recorded, transcribed and edited to create personal narratives in each subject’s distinctive voice. We hope 20 Years, 20 Stories captures the many flavors and varieties of CMW experience. Join us at a concert anytime to start creating your own CMW story.

Read the interviews here.

 

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An Evening with Johnny Gandelsman in a Concert to Benefit CMW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community MusicWorks invites you to an evening with world-renowned violinist Johnny Gandelsman in a solo concert to benefit CMW.

Join us Thursday, November 9 at 7pm as Johnny Gandelsman of Silk Road and Brooklyn Rider performs the Six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin by J.S. Bach.  All proceeds of this concert will support the free music education programs at Community MusicWorks.

To hear Johnny Gandelsman play solo Bach is to hear someone with an impeccable technique and mastery of the instrument who has re-imagined these works and the gestures required to play them. Having grown up in Russia and Israel, and later studying at the Curtis Institute of Music, Johnny’s training readied him for a major international solo career. Instead, Johnny’s individual voice has led him to absorb styles of violin playing from historical recordings, Irish fiddlers, banjo virtuosos, Persian musicians and more, and he has incorporated all these elements into his sensibilities as a violinist, basically inventing his own style of violin playing.

The Six Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin are some of the deepest, most spiritually rich music for the violin (or for any instrument). They are part of every violinist’s journey throughout a lifetime–from learning the simpler movements in student years to tackling the signature epic movements at later stages, including the fugues, the Chaconne, and others. Few violinists record the entire set of six Sonatas and Partitas and fewer still perform them all at once. Johnny has done both, and will perform them as a benefit for CMW.

This is an event not to be missed!

Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 7pm
First Unitarian Church
1 Benevolent Street, Providence
$30 General Seating
$100 Preferred Seating with a pre-concert reception at 6pm
Purchase tickets here

 

 

 

October 19-21: Sonata Series and Ars Subtilior Festival features André Cormier

 

 

 

 

 

 


Composer André Cormier

Join us for a weekend focused on Composer-in-Residence André Cormier as part of the Sonata Series and the Ars Subtilior Festival. Beginning on Thursday, the Sonata Series Event at RISD will feature a performance of Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven, and events on Friday evening and an all-day event on Saturday will feature works by Cormier performed by the composer himself, special guests, the MusicWorks Collective and CMW students.

Strangely Beautiful and Slightly Twisted:
A Note from Ars Subtilior curator and CMW Resident Musician Laura Cetilia

An unprecedented event is upon us. On October 17, Acadian composer André Cormier will be arriving in Providence as composer-in-residence for the 2017 Ars Subtilior Festival at Community MusicWorks. For five days, CMW and its surroundings will be inundated with strangely beautiful and slightly twisted music from the Maritimes.

In the past, Ars Subtilior events were reserved for understated, small chamber music concerts that involved only a handful of CMW musicians with an occasional appearance by our Phase II students. This season, no holds barred.

Almost every person involved with CMW – from our Development Director to our youngest Daily Orchestra Program student – plus numerous guest performers coming all the way from California, Montreal and New York, will be included in this onslaught of experimental music.

The festival begins the day André arrives with a workshop/performance during All-Play at Calvary Baptist Church. Students of my SoundLab class will perform selections from the simple, but fruitful graphic score “Un ensemble d’actions possibles,” creating sounds on mini modular synthesizers that we’ve worked on in class in conjunction with some good old string playing. That day will also feature “25 Bars for Four Dollars” performed by Sarah Kim, Piero Guimaraes, Zan Berry, and myself on pennies.

That’s right, you heard me: pennies.

On Wednesday, Andre will visit with students of the Daily Orchestra Program, who will also be experimenting with pennies and playing through “Un ensemble d’actions possibles” while he offers composerly pointers.

On Thursday, Cormier’s “Scattershot Beethoven,” performed by Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth, and “Marie-Pierre,” performed by Andrei Baumann can be heard at the Sonata Series at RISD Museum. There will be a pre-concert reception: come by and meet André and the performers before the start of the program!

Friday will feature three different configurations of André’s chamber music: his take on a string quartet “Plaie Mortelle” (Mortal Wound), his Candle Quartet featuring our administrative staff (Katie, Kelly, Liz) and newly appointed DOP string teacher, Tessa Sacramone, all lighting and blowing out candles over the course of an hour. “Fleurs d’équinoxe,” a light and sparse circular score, will include the talents of alumnus Andrew Oung, formally local composer/performer JPA Falzone , our own Piero Guimaraes, along with members of the MusicWorks Collective.

Saturday, the final day of the festival, culminates in an extravaganza at RISD museum featuring 3 out of 10 volumes of works André composed based on the epic poem “Conversations” by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson. These are by far the lushest of Andre’s works and should not be missed. Guest artists Teodora Stepancic (pianist from New York), Andrea Young (soprano from Montreal) and Robin Streb (violist from Moncton) along with myself, will be bringing these works to life. That day will also include a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by Phase 2 students, trilling on their instruments like flying insects throughout the galleries. And finally, his string octet “Microbes” with quietly pulsating pizzicatos and meandering glissandi, played by the illustrious MusicWorks Collective.

Come. You’ll never hear anything like this ever again.

–Laura Cetilia

Festival Schedule:

Thursday, October 19 at 7pm
RISD Museum Grand Gallery
For this first event of the Sonata Series, Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth perform Andre Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven and cellist Adrienne Taylor performs Beethoven with guest pianist Andrei Baumann.
RISD Museum, Grand Gallery 
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert and Museum Admission is free

Friday, October 20 at 8pm
Sutton Space Gallery
Community MusicWorks musicians and staff perform Cormier’s Candle Quartet, Fleurs d’équinoxe, and Plaie Mortelle.
159 Sutton Street, Providence
Suggested donation $20

Saturday, October 21 11am-5pm
RISD Museum-various galleries
Saturday’s day-long event features several performances: works based on the epic poem Conversations by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson (with guest soprano Andrea Young), a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by CMW Phase II students and Microbes performed by the MusicWorks Collective.
RISD Museum
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert is free with Museum admission

Saturday’s Schedule:
11am-Noon
Conversations 1 in the Grand Gallery
Noon-1pm
Microbes in the Grand Gallery
1pm-2pm
Conversations 3 in the Grand Gallery
2pm-3pm
Libellules in Various Galleries
3pm-4pm
Conversations 5 in the Grand Gallery

 

 

 

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

This year, Community MusicWorks launches its third decade, and as we step into the next chapter of this organization’s growth our work is urgent in new ways. Twenty years ago the idea of a string quartet in a permanent residency in an urban neighborhood was a fringe idea in classical music. The notion that an urban residency would be the core of a chamber group’s life and work and that community development would be an equal ambition to playing and teaching was new territory.

Now, two decades in, conservatories are graduating students with entrepreneurship training, many with a social change focus; musicians are seeking alternate venues to the traditional concert halls, and increasingly orchestras and concert series are investing in their communities. All this points to a movement that is robust, respected, and ever growing: musicians experimenting with new forms, new career paths, and new inquiries into the place of musicianship in contemporary life.

CMW in our third decade has a new task to help grow this generation of students and musicians. With the launch of our MusicWorks Network and Fellowship, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we lead a new conversation across the country into the connections between social justice and musical practice, and share ways in which young people’s participation in programs like CMW can support their paths to and through college. We are thrilled to be bringing together former participants from both the CMW Fellowship Program and Institutes for Musicianship and Public Service, now leading programs of their own in more than 15 cities across the country and in Canada, to grow and learn together.

In our concert series, Season 21 offers adventurous programming. You’ll notice that most programs feature one or more female composers’ works, an intentional effort to align our concert programming with our commitment to equity and social justice. From the season opener to the June finale, you’ll be invited into new sonic experiences—the driving intensity of Julia Wolfe’s “Cruel Sister,” a new work by Annika Socolofsky, a festival celebrating André Cormier’s quiet masterpieces, and the premiere of a work by Rhode Island composer Forrest Larson. There are many opportunities for new sounds and experiences!

Our tradition of Bach in November continues, including the fifth year of the overnight Bach marathon. This season also features a special benefit performance by Johnny Gandelsman (of Brooklyn Rider and the Silk Road Project) of all the Bach solo works for violin—a spiritual and physical feat rarely undertaken, even by violinists of the greatest stamina.

Our December Solstice Concert returns—back by popular demand! The storytelling and musical adventure takes us again from foxes and crows to the wind and a chickadee, whose song reminds us that music can bring light and hope—a wonderful allegorical tale that reflects CMW’s mission.

One final thought to carry with you as you help launch this third decade—our work is about each person’s continual development, or what Maxine Greene would call “being on the way.” From our students to our musician-teachers, to audience members and supporters, CMW’s mission focuses on encouraging all of us to be continually on our way—toward growth, deeper awareness, and indeed transformative experiences of beauty and community.

Let’s step together into the work of this third decade!

-Sebastian Ruth, Founder & Artistic Director

Check our Season 21 calendar here.

MusicWorks Network: A New Initiative

Within the past twenty-one years, CMW has offered professional musicians opportunities to re-imagine the very foundations of a classical music career, and to think more broadly about music as a way of engaging in and with communities.

This year, CMW has the opportunity to deepen that work with the support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a new initiative, Citizens of the World: Forging Pathways to College and Beyond. This strategic initiative is designed to substantially increase the number of racially diverse, low-income young people who gain access to critical skills that promote success. This work builds on CMW’s 20-year history of developing music-based education programs designed to open new worlds of opportunity to low-income African-American and Latino youth. Out of this work has come Phase II, an approach to developing fundamental skills and supports that promote college-going, that has led 95% of CMW graduates to continue to college.

CMW will share CMW’s successful college-going model across a network of community-based music education sites. Called the MusicWorks Network, this project will link 10-15 community-based music sites serving over 650 young people and convene them in an annual Summer Institute for training, resource-sharing, and collaborative evaluation.

The first Summer Institute took place this past August 22-30 as educators and staff from ten different organizations gathered at the beautiful Rolling Ridge Conference Center in North Andover, MA. Connecting around the ways that social justice practices and technical and artistic work on string instruments can support one another, teachers and staff came from Community MusicWorks, MusiConnects (Boston, MA), MyCincinnati (Cincinnati, OH), Musica Franklin (Franklin, MA), Orchestra of St. Luke’s (New York, New York), MusicHaven (New Haven, CT), Newport Strings (Newport, RI), Sistema New Brunswick (New Brunswick, St. John, Canada), Strong Harbor Strings (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada), and Neighborhood Strings (Worcester, MA).

Participants convened for a range of workshops and trainings, including a 2-day string pedagogy workshop with renowned violinist and teacher Mimi Zweig, a poetry and social justice workshop with poet Jonathan Mendoza, a workshop on anti-racist organizational frameworks with trainer and activist Adeola Oredola, and discussions and reflection around the creative synergy between string pedagogy and social justice teachings.

The Institute was designed and facilitated by Sebastian Ruth and Chloe Kline with the new MusicWorks Network staff: MusicWorks Network Director Jori Ketten and MusicWorks Network Fellow Andrew Oung. Part of the initiative, the MusicWorks Network Fellowship is a one-year position for alumni of CMW’s youth program or graduates of CMW’s two-year Fellowship Program to contribute to the MusicWorks Network. Andrew is our first alumni hire at CMW.

 

Revolution of Values

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise.

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:
[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!
–Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director

Revolution of Values: A Day of Creative Action

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise. 

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:

[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!

-Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director 

Art in a Time of Rage

As CMW musicians have been working over the past several weeks to articulate our response as artists and citizens to the many events of the new administration, our discussions have toggled between the actions we need to take raising our voices as engaged citizens and making music.

New Yorker music critic Alex Ross, who once profiled CMW, takes on this question in his post about how musicians make music in a time of rage. Ross quotes Lucy Caplan*, whose essay about CMW’s 2016 Art and Social Action symposium is The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts.

*A fun fact: Lucy worked with CMW’s Sebastian Ruth as a student in his Yale class, and then as a TA in his Music and Social Action Coursera class. Read more about Lucy here and here.

 

Links:
Alex Ross: Making Art in a Time of Rage
Alex Ross: Learning the Score (CMW Profile in the New Yorker)
Lucy Caplan: The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts
Sebastian Ruth: Music and Social Action (Coursera)

 

 

 

Talking and Listening: Behind the Scenes of 20 Years, 20 Stories

 

 

 

 

 

Linda Daniels is a writer, editor, cellist, CMW parent, former CMW Board member and expert eavesdropper. She helms the 20 Years, 20 Stories project and this is her story.

I’ve been an eavesdropper since childhood. My mother liked to pour herself a Royal Crown cola in the late afternoon, park herself on the couch and telephone her mother, which was my cue to c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y raise the extension handset upstairs. Usually, they discussed mundane matters:  pork chops versus chicken, how this season’s fashions were so unflattering and, now and then, family gossip. The topics were almost beside the point, except for the family gossip, which is why I eavesdropped in the first place. But I was also intrigued by the mysterious current of poetry running beneath even the most routine remarks. I loved the give and take of conversation, the sighs and pauses, the sound of my mother’s sympathetic tsk-tsk’s and my grandmother’s pretty brogue. I almost always got busted and was scolded, but not seriously enough to deter me from future attempts. Talking was as close as my family got to making music. No one sang or played an instrument, and my relatives just embarrassed themselves trying to clap along to music, but man, could these people talk. Listeners, even illicit ones, had a role to play, too. We completed the performance circle.

In college, Studs Terkel’s oral history Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do shaped my senior year thesis. I made the leap from habitual eavesdropper to scholarly interviewer and collected the oral histories of women who came of age during the 1920s. The best parts of the resulting 200-plus-page door-stopper were their reminiscences. After college, I became a reporter: more listening, more writing. Even after I quit newspapers and turned to other pursuits, I never lost the eavesdropping habit. My husband recognizes the faraway look that crosses my face when we’re in a public space and I hear something that bears further investigation, convinced, of course, that no one can tell what I’m up to. After 27 years, he also knows that whatever he and I were talking about will have to wait. More recently, I’ve been inspired by writer Svetlana Alexievich, who won a Nobel for Secondhand Time, her beautifully rendered oral history of post-Soviet Russians.

In September, I began an exciting new listening and writing project in connection with Community MusicWorks’ 20th anniversary: collecting 20 representative stories of CMW musicians, staff, students, parents and supporters. I’ve been expertly assisted by CMW fellow Josie Davis, who interviewed three people, and Communications Manager Liz Cox, who proofreads the stories and designs the online content. (Read the stories here.)

It hasn’t been difficult to get people to open up. I’ve been a familiar face at CMW since my youngest had his first cello lesson here ten years ago. I’ve exchanged knowing glances with other parents when a beginner nails “Twinkle” and held a collective breath during the dying notes of a Beethoven quartet performed by the pros. I’ve square-danced to fiddle tunes and attempted, much less successfully, the salsa.  I’ve sung rounds and set up folding chairs; fretted over budgets and strategic goals; eased my car past side-view mirrors on snow-bound Messer Street; knitted for newborns; and eaten far too much pizza.

Since people know me better as an at-large mom than as an interviewer and writer, some of my questions may discomfit. Recently, a student I was interviewing put up a hand and blurted, “That’s a weird question!” Um, ok. But can you answer it anyway? I remain confident that what I’m curious about others are too. She answered in good faith, trusting that I have her back. I am honored by that trust. You readers should be also. When people talk honestly they make themselves vulnerable. They don’t want to be misconstrued as they describe emotions and realizations that can’t be summarized by facts alone. This is especially true of CMW’s staff, who are talking about their life’s work.

It’s why I take the final step of the oral history process so seriously: converting 8-20 pages of interview transcript to a narrative that honors the speaker’s intentions, captures history while it’s still occurring, and compels readers. It’s a messy process. No matter how cleverly I order the questions and pursue answers during an interview, the talk meanders, as talk will. Even the most prepared and polished speakers wander off topic and speak colloquially, thank goodness. They are thinking out loud, which is where the music happens. It’s the difference between watching an official read a prepared statement from behind a podium and hearing him speak spontaneously from the heart when a reporter surprises him off-stage by asking exactly the right question at the right moment. I’m going for the latter.

Some “20 Years, 20 Stories” subjects have been flummoxed by the difference between the hour-plus interview they remember and the 2-5 page story I produce, having edited and condensed our conversation to a fare-thee-well, absenting my questions along the way. (Available here, if you’re curious.) They worry about being misperceived and about sounding too casual. They worry that they have said too much or too little. It is scary to see your constantly morphing thoughts marching in regimental black lines across white space. Where are the raised eyebrows signaling sincerity or the smile signaling warmth? Where are the tears that welled up when recalling a triumphant moment with a challenging student? Where’s a second or third chance to rephrase? To be more thoughtful? To explain more fully?

Oral history and chamber music have much in common. Both art forms strive to capture human experience through artifice and collaborative effort, and both are very much of the moment. Therein lies the thrill. Having made the artistic decision to omit interview questions in favor of narrative flow, I don’t worry that readers need cue cards. I trust that readers will appreciate what I appreciate about oral history: the idiosyncratic quirks of everyday speech as thoughtful people talk about things that matter. Subjects can trust their beautiful, one-of-a-kind voices to tell the story. The rest of us can pick up the extension and listen in.

The 20 Years, 20 Stories homepage.

Archives

CMW Celebrates 20 with Twenty Years, Twenty Stories

cmw20_header

 

 

 

This year Community MusicWorks turns 20! To mark the milestone, we are gathering the stories of 20 members of our community–musicians, students, parents, graduates and supporters. Look for new stories throughout the season.

Interviews were recorded, transcribed and edited to create personal narratives in each subject’s distinctive voice. We hope 20 Years, 20 Stories captures the many flavors and varieties of CMW experience. Join us at a concert anytime to start creating your own CMW story.

Read the interviews here.

 

community-day-cake

 

An Evening with Johnny Gandelsman in a Concert to Benefit CMW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community MusicWorks invites you to an evening with world-renowned violinist Johnny Gandelsman in a solo concert to benefit CMW.

Join us Thursday, November 9 at 7pm as Johnny Gandelsman of Silk Road and Brooklyn Rider performs the Six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin by J.S. Bach.  All proceeds of this concert will support the free music education programs at Community MusicWorks.

To hear Johnny Gandelsman play solo Bach is to hear someone with an impeccable technique and mastery of the instrument who has re-imagined these works and the gestures required to play them. Having grown up in Russia and Israel, and later studying at the Curtis Institute of Music, Johnny’s training readied him for a major international solo career. Instead, Johnny’s individual voice has led him to absorb styles of violin playing from historical recordings, Irish fiddlers, banjo virtuosos, Persian musicians and more, and he has incorporated all these elements into his sensibilities as a violinist, basically inventing his own style of violin playing.

The Six Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin are some of the deepest, most spiritually rich music for the violin (or for any instrument). They are part of every violinist’s journey throughout a lifetime–from learning the simpler movements in student years to tackling the signature epic movements at later stages, including the fugues, the Chaconne, and others. Few violinists record the entire set of six Sonatas and Partitas and fewer still perform them all at once. Johnny has done both, and will perform them as a benefit for CMW.

This is an event not to be missed!

Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 7pm
First Unitarian Church
1 Benevolent Street, Providence
$30 General Seating
$100 Preferred Seating with a pre-concert reception at 6pm
Purchase tickets here

 

 

 

October 19-21: Sonata Series and Ars Subtilior Festival features André Cormier

 

 

 

 

 

 


Composer André Cormier

Join us for a weekend focused on Composer-in-Residence André Cormier as part of the Sonata Series and the Ars Subtilior Festival. Beginning on Thursday, the Sonata Series Event at RISD will feature a performance of Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven, and events on Friday evening and an all-day event on Saturday will feature works by Cormier performed by the composer himself, special guests, the MusicWorks Collective and CMW students.

Strangely Beautiful and Slightly Twisted:
A Note from Ars Subtilior curator and CMW Resident Musician Laura Cetilia

An unprecedented event is upon us. On October 17, Acadian composer André Cormier will be arriving in Providence as composer-in-residence for the 2017 Ars Subtilior Festival at Community MusicWorks. For five days, CMW and its surroundings will be inundated with strangely beautiful and slightly twisted music from the Maritimes.

In the past, Ars Subtilior events were reserved for understated, small chamber music concerts that involved only a handful of CMW musicians with an occasional appearance by our Phase II students. This season, no holds barred.

Almost every person involved with CMW – from our Development Director to our youngest Daily Orchestra Program student – plus numerous guest performers coming all the way from California, Montreal and New York, will be included in this onslaught of experimental music.

The festival begins the day André arrives with a workshop/performance during All-Play at Calvary Baptist Church. Students of my SoundLab class will perform selections from the simple, but fruitful graphic score “Un ensemble d’actions possibles,” creating sounds on mini modular synthesizers that we’ve worked on in class in conjunction with some good old string playing. That day will also feature “25 Bars for Four Dollars” performed by Sarah Kim, Piero Guimaraes, Zan Berry, and myself on pennies.

That’s right, you heard me: pennies.

On Wednesday, Andre will visit with students of the Daily Orchestra Program, who will also be experimenting with pennies and playing through “Un ensemble d’actions possibles” while he offers composerly pointers.

On Thursday, Cormier’s “Scattershot Beethoven,” performed by Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth, and “Marie-Pierre,” performed by Andrei Baumann can be heard at the Sonata Series at RISD Museum. There will be a pre-concert reception: come by and meet André and the performers before the start of the program!

Friday will feature three different configurations of André’s chamber music: his take on a string quartet “Plaie Mortelle” (Mortal Wound), his Candle Quartet featuring our administrative staff (Katie, Kelly, Liz) and newly appointed DOP string teacher, Tessa Sacramone, all lighting and blowing out candles over the course of an hour. “Fleurs d’équinoxe,” a light and sparse circular score, will include the talents of alumnus Andrew Oung, formally local composer/performer JPA Falzone , our own Piero Guimaraes, along with members of the MusicWorks Collective.

Saturday, the final day of the festival, culminates in an extravaganza at RISD museum featuring 3 out of 10 volumes of works André composed based on the epic poem “Conversations” by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson. These are by far the lushest of Andre’s works and should not be missed. Guest artists Teodora Stepancic (pianist from New York), Andrea Young (soprano from Montreal) and Robin Streb (violist from Moncton) along with myself, will be bringing these works to life. That day will also include a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by Phase 2 students, trilling on their instruments like flying insects throughout the galleries. And finally, his string octet “Microbes” with quietly pulsating pizzicatos and meandering glissandi, played by the illustrious MusicWorks Collective.

Come. You’ll never hear anything like this ever again.

–Laura Cetilia

Festival Schedule:

Thursday, October 19 at 7pm
RISD Museum Grand Gallery
For this first event of the Sonata Series, Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth perform Andre Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven and cellist Adrienne Taylor performs Beethoven with guest pianist Andrei Baumann.
RISD Museum, Grand Gallery 
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert and Museum Admission is free

Friday, October 20 at 8pm
Sutton Space Gallery
Community MusicWorks musicians and staff perform Cormier’s Candle Quartet, Fleurs d’équinoxe, and Plaie Mortelle.
159 Sutton Street, Providence
Suggested donation $20

Saturday, October 21 11am-5pm
RISD Museum-various galleries
Saturday’s day-long event features several performances: works based on the epic poem Conversations by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson (with guest soprano Andrea Young), a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by CMW Phase II students and Microbes performed by the MusicWorks Collective.
RISD Museum
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert is free with Museum admission

Saturday’s Schedule:
11am-Noon
Conversations 1 in the Grand Gallery
Noon-1pm
Microbes in the Grand Gallery
1pm-2pm
Conversations 3 in the Grand Gallery
2pm-3pm
Libellules in Various Galleries
3pm-4pm
Conversations 5 in the Grand Gallery

 

 

 

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

This year, Community MusicWorks launches its third decade, and as we step into the next chapter of this organization’s growth our work is urgent in new ways. Twenty years ago the idea of a string quartet in a permanent residency in an urban neighborhood was a fringe idea in classical music. The notion that an urban residency would be the core of a chamber group’s life and work and that community development would be an equal ambition to playing and teaching was new territory.

Now, two decades in, conservatories are graduating students with entrepreneurship training, many with a social change focus; musicians are seeking alternate venues to the traditional concert halls, and increasingly orchestras and concert series are investing in their communities. All this points to a movement that is robust, respected, and ever growing: musicians experimenting with new forms, new career paths, and new inquiries into the place of musicianship in contemporary life.

CMW in our third decade has a new task to help grow this generation of students and musicians. With the launch of our MusicWorks Network and Fellowship, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we lead a new conversation across the country into the connections between social justice and musical practice, and share ways in which young people’s participation in programs like CMW can support their paths to and through college. We are thrilled to be bringing together former participants from both the CMW Fellowship Program and Institutes for Musicianship and Public Service, now leading programs of their own in more than 15 cities across the country and in Canada, to grow and learn together.

In our concert series, Season 21 offers adventurous programming. You’ll notice that most programs feature one or more female composers’ works, an intentional effort to align our concert programming with our commitment to equity and social justice. From the season opener to the June finale, you’ll be invited into new sonic experiences—the driving intensity of Julia Wolfe’s “Cruel Sister,” a new work by Annika Socolofsky, a festival celebrating André Cormier’s quiet masterpieces, and the premiere of a work by Rhode Island composer Forrest Larson. There are many opportunities for new sounds and experiences!

Our tradition of Bach in November continues, including the fifth year of the overnight Bach marathon. This season also features a special benefit performance by Johnny Gandelsman (of Brooklyn Rider and the Silk Road Project) of all the Bach solo works for violin—a spiritual and physical feat rarely undertaken, even by violinists of the greatest stamina.

Our December Solstice Concert returns—back by popular demand! The storytelling and musical adventure takes us again from foxes and crows to the wind and a chickadee, whose song reminds us that music can bring light and hope—a wonderful allegorical tale that reflects CMW’s mission.

One final thought to carry with you as you help launch this third decade—our work is about each person’s continual development, or what Maxine Greene would call “being on the way.” From our students to our musician-teachers, to audience members and supporters, CMW’s mission focuses on encouraging all of us to be continually on our way—toward growth, deeper awareness, and indeed transformative experiences of beauty and community.

Let’s step together into the work of this third decade!

-Sebastian Ruth, Founder & Artistic Director

Check our Season 21 calendar here.

MusicWorks Network: A New Initiative

Within the past twenty-one years, CMW has offered professional musicians opportunities to re-imagine the very foundations of a classical music career, and to think more broadly about music as a way of engaging in and with communities.

This year, CMW has the opportunity to deepen that work with the support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a new initiative, Citizens of the World: Forging Pathways to College and Beyond. This strategic initiative is designed to substantially increase the number of racially diverse, low-income young people who gain access to critical skills that promote success. This work builds on CMW’s 20-year history of developing music-based education programs designed to open new worlds of opportunity to low-income African-American and Latino youth. Out of this work has come Phase II, an approach to developing fundamental skills and supports that promote college-going, that has led 95% of CMW graduates to continue to college.

CMW will share CMW’s successful college-going model across a network of community-based music education sites. Called the MusicWorks Network, this project will link 10-15 community-based music sites serving over 650 young people and convene them in an annual Summer Institute for training, resource-sharing, and collaborative evaluation.

The first Summer Institute took place this past August 22-30 as educators and staff from ten different organizations gathered at the beautiful Rolling Ridge Conference Center in North Andover, MA. Connecting around the ways that social justice practices and technical and artistic work on string instruments can support one another, teachers and staff came from Community MusicWorks, MusiConnects (Boston, MA), MyCincinnati (Cincinnati, OH), Musica Franklin (Franklin, MA), Orchestra of St. Luke’s (New York, New York), MusicHaven (New Haven, CT), Newport Strings (Newport, RI), Sistema New Brunswick (New Brunswick, St. John, Canada), Strong Harbor Strings (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada), and Neighborhood Strings (Worcester, MA).

Participants convened for a range of workshops and trainings, including a 2-day string pedagogy workshop with renowned violinist and teacher Mimi Zweig, a poetry and social justice workshop with poet Jonathan Mendoza, a workshop on anti-racist organizational frameworks with trainer and activist Adeola Oredola, and discussions and reflection around the creative synergy between string pedagogy and social justice teachings.

The Institute was designed and facilitated by Sebastian Ruth and Chloe Kline with the new MusicWorks Network staff: MusicWorks Network Director Jori Ketten and MusicWorks Network Fellow Andrew Oung. Part of the initiative, the MusicWorks Network Fellowship is a one-year position for alumni of CMW’s youth program or graduates of CMW’s two-year Fellowship Program to contribute to the MusicWorks Network. Andrew is our first alumni hire at CMW.

 

Revolution of Values

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise.

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:
[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!
–Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director

Revolution of Values: A Day of Creative Action

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise. 

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:

[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!

-Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director 

Art in a Time of Rage

As CMW musicians have been working over the past several weeks to articulate our response as artists and citizens to the many events of the new administration, our discussions have toggled between the actions we need to take raising our voices as engaged citizens and making music.

New Yorker music critic Alex Ross, who once profiled CMW, takes on this question in his post about how musicians make music in a time of rage. Ross quotes Lucy Caplan*, whose essay about CMW’s 2016 Art and Social Action symposium is The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts.

*A fun fact: Lucy worked with CMW’s Sebastian Ruth as a student in his Yale class, and then as a TA in his Music and Social Action Coursera class. Read more about Lucy here and here.

 

Links:
Alex Ross: Making Art in a Time of Rage
Alex Ross: Learning the Score (CMW Profile in the New Yorker)
Lucy Caplan: The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts
Sebastian Ruth: Music and Social Action (Coursera)

 

 

 

Talking and Listening: Behind the Scenes of 20 Years, 20 Stories

 

 

 

 

 

Linda Daniels is a writer, editor, cellist, CMW parent, former CMW Board member and expert eavesdropper. She helms the 20 Years, 20 Stories project and this is her story.

I’ve been an eavesdropper since childhood. My mother liked to pour herself a Royal Crown cola in the late afternoon, park herself on the couch and telephone her mother, which was my cue to c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y raise the extension handset upstairs. Usually, they discussed mundane matters:  pork chops versus chicken, how this season’s fashions were so unflattering and, now and then, family gossip. The topics were almost beside the point, except for the family gossip, which is why I eavesdropped in the first place. But I was also intrigued by the mysterious current of poetry running beneath even the most routine remarks. I loved the give and take of conversation, the sighs and pauses, the sound of my mother’s sympathetic tsk-tsk’s and my grandmother’s pretty brogue. I almost always got busted and was scolded, but not seriously enough to deter me from future attempts. Talking was as close as my family got to making music. No one sang or played an instrument, and my relatives just embarrassed themselves trying to clap along to music, but man, could these people talk. Listeners, even illicit ones, had a role to play, too. We completed the performance circle.

In college, Studs Terkel’s oral history Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do shaped my senior year thesis. I made the leap from habitual eavesdropper to scholarly interviewer and collected the oral histories of women who came of age during the 1920s. The best parts of the resulting 200-plus-page door-stopper were their reminiscences. After college, I became a reporter: more listening, more writing. Even after I quit newspapers and turned to other pursuits, I never lost the eavesdropping habit. My husband recognizes the faraway look that crosses my face when we’re in a public space and I hear something that bears further investigation, convinced, of course, that no one can tell what I’m up to. After 27 years, he also knows that whatever he and I were talking about will have to wait. More recently, I’ve been inspired by writer Svetlana Alexievich, who won a Nobel for Secondhand Time, her beautifully rendered oral history of post-Soviet Russians.

In September, I began an exciting new listening and writing project in connection with Community MusicWorks’ 20th anniversary: collecting 20 representative stories of CMW musicians, staff, students, parents and supporters. I’ve been expertly assisted by CMW fellow Josie Davis, who interviewed three people, and Communications Manager Liz Cox, who proofreads the stories and designs the online content. (Read the stories here.)

It hasn’t been difficult to get people to open up. I’ve been a familiar face at CMW since my youngest had his first cello lesson here ten years ago. I’ve exchanged knowing glances with other parents when a beginner nails “Twinkle” and held a collective breath during the dying notes of a Beethoven quartet performed by the pros. I’ve square-danced to fiddle tunes and attempted, much less successfully, the salsa.  I’ve sung rounds and set up folding chairs; fretted over budgets and strategic goals; eased my car past side-view mirrors on snow-bound Messer Street; knitted for newborns; and eaten far too much pizza.

Since people know me better as an at-large mom than as an interviewer and writer, some of my questions may discomfit. Recently, a student I was interviewing put up a hand and blurted, “That’s a weird question!” Um, ok. But can you answer it anyway? I remain confident that what I’m curious about others are too. She answered in good faith, trusting that I have her back. I am honored by that trust. You readers should be also. When people talk honestly they make themselves vulnerable. They don’t want to be misconstrued as they describe emotions and realizations that can’t be summarized by facts alone. This is especially true of CMW’s staff, who are talking about their life’s work.

It’s why I take the final step of the oral history process so seriously: converting 8-20 pages of interview transcript to a narrative that honors the speaker’s intentions, captures history while it’s still occurring, and compels readers. It’s a messy process. No matter how cleverly I order the questions and pursue answers during an interview, the talk meanders, as talk will. Even the most prepared and polished speakers wander off topic and speak colloquially, thank goodness. They are thinking out loud, which is where the music happens. It’s the difference between watching an official read a prepared statement from behind a podium and hearing him speak spontaneously from the heart when a reporter surprises him off-stage by asking exactly the right question at the right moment. I’m going for the latter.

Some “20 Years, 20 Stories” subjects have been flummoxed by the difference between the hour-plus interview they remember and the 2-5 page story I produce, having edited and condensed our conversation to a fare-thee-well, absenting my questions along the way. (Available here, if you’re curious.) They worry about being misperceived and about sounding too casual. They worry that they have said too much or too little. It is scary to see your constantly morphing thoughts marching in regimental black lines across white space. Where are the raised eyebrows signaling sincerity or the smile signaling warmth? Where are the tears that welled up when recalling a triumphant moment with a challenging student? Where’s a second or third chance to rephrase? To be more thoughtful? To explain more fully?

Oral history and chamber music have much in common. Both art forms strive to capture human experience through artifice and collaborative effort, and both are very much of the moment. Therein lies the thrill. Having made the artistic decision to omit interview questions in favor of narrative flow, I don’t worry that readers need cue cards. I trust that readers will appreciate what I appreciate about oral history: the idiosyncratic quirks of everyday speech as thoughtful people talk about things that matter. Subjects can trust their beautiful, one-of-a-kind voices to tell the story. The rest of us can pick up the extension and listen in.

The 20 Years, 20 Stories homepage.

Archives

CMW Celebrates 20 with Twenty Years, Twenty Stories

cmw20_header

 

 

 

This year Community MusicWorks turns 20! To mark the milestone, we are gathering the stories of 20 members of our community–musicians, students, parents, graduates and supporters. Look for new stories throughout the season.

Interviews were recorded, transcribed and edited to create personal narratives in each subject’s distinctive voice. We hope 20 Years, 20 Stories captures the many flavors and varieties of CMW experience. Join us at a concert anytime to start creating your own CMW story.

Read the interviews here.

 

community-day-cake

 

An Evening with Johnny Gandelsman in a Concert to Benefit CMW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community MusicWorks invites you to an evening with world-renowned violinist Johnny Gandelsman in a solo concert to benefit CMW.

Join us Thursday, November 9 at 7pm as Johnny Gandelsman of Silk Road and Brooklyn Rider performs the Six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin by J.S. Bach.  All proceeds of this concert will support the free music education programs at Community MusicWorks.

To hear Johnny Gandelsman play solo Bach is to hear someone with an impeccable technique and mastery of the instrument who has re-imagined these works and the gestures required to play them. Having grown up in Russia and Israel, and later studying at the Curtis Institute of Music, Johnny’s training readied him for a major international solo career. Instead, Johnny’s individual voice has led him to absorb styles of violin playing from historical recordings, Irish fiddlers, banjo virtuosos, Persian musicians and more, and he has incorporated all these elements into his sensibilities as a violinist, basically inventing his own style of violin playing.

The Six Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin are some of the deepest, most spiritually rich music for the violin (or for any instrument). They are part of every violinist’s journey throughout a lifetime–from learning the simpler movements in student years to tackling the signature epic movements at later stages, including the fugues, the Chaconne, and others. Few violinists record the entire set of six Sonatas and Partitas and fewer still perform them all at once. Johnny has done both, and will perform them as a benefit for CMW.

This is an event not to be missed!

Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 7pm
First Unitarian Church
1 Benevolent Street, Providence
$30 General Seating
$100 Preferred Seating with a pre-concert reception at 6pm
Purchase tickets here

 

 

 

October 19-21: Sonata Series and Ars Subtilior Festival features André Cormier

 

 

 

 

 

 


Composer André Cormier

Join us for a weekend focused on Composer-in-Residence André Cormier as part of the Sonata Series and the Ars Subtilior Festival. Beginning on Thursday, the Sonata Series Event at RISD will feature a performance of Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven, and events on Friday evening and an all-day event on Saturday will feature works by Cormier performed by the composer himself, special guests, the MusicWorks Collective and CMW students.

Strangely Beautiful and Slightly Twisted:
A Note from Ars Subtilior curator and CMW Resident Musician Laura Cetilia

An unprecedented event is upon us. On October 17, Acadian composer André Cormier will be arriving in Providence as composer-in-residence for the 2017 Ars Subtilior Festival at Community MusicWorks. For five days, CMW and its surroundings will be inundated with strangely beautiful and slightly twisted music from the Maritimes.

In the past, Ars Subtilior events were reserved for understated, small chamber music concerts that involved only a handful of CMW musicians with an occasional appearance by our Phase II students. This season, no holds barred.

Almost every person involved with CMW – from our Development Director to our youngest Daily Orchestra Program student – plus numerous guest performers coming all the way from California, Montreal and New York, will be included in this onslaught of experimental music.

The festival begins the day André arrives with a workshop/performance during All-Play at Calvary Baptist Church. Students of my SoundLab class will perform selections from the simple, but fruitful graphic score “Un ensemble d’actions possibles,” creating sounds on mini modular synthesizers that we’ve worked on in class in conjunction with some good old string playing. That day will also feature “25 Bars for Four Dollars” performed by Sarah Kim, Piero Guimaraes, Zan Berry, and myself on pennies.

That’s right, you heard me: pennies.

On Wednesday, Andre will visit with students of the Daily Orchestra Program, who will also be experimenting with pennies and playing through “Un ensemble d’actions possibles” while he offers composerly pointers.

On Thursday, Cormier’s “Scattershot Beethoven,” performed by Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth, and “Marie-Pierre,” performed by Andrei Baumann can be heard at the Sonata Series at RISD Museum. There will be a pre-concert reception: come by and meet André and the performers before the start of the program!

Friday will feature three different configurations of André’s chamber music: his take on a string quartet “Plaie Mortelle” (Mortal Wound), his Candle Quartet featuring our administrative staff (Katie, Kelly, Liz) and newly appointed DOP string teacher, Tessa Sacramone, all lighting and blowing out candles over the course of an hour. “Fleurs d’équinoxe,” a light and sparse circular score, will include the talents of alumnus Andrew Oung, formally local composer/performer JPA Falzone , our own Piero Guimaraes, along with members of the MusicWorks Collective.

Saturday, the final day of the festival, culminates in an extravaganza at RISD museum featuring 3 out of 10 volumes of works André composed based on the epic poem “Conversations” by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson. These are by far the lushest of Andre’s works and should not be missed. Guest artists Teodora Stepancic (pianist from New York), Andrea Young (soprano from Montreal) and Robin Streb (violist from Moncton) along with myself, will be bringing these works to life. That day will also include a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by Phase 2 students, trilling on their instruments like flying insects throughout the galleries. And finally, his string octet “Microbes” with quietly pulsating pizzicatos and meandering glissandi, played by the illustrious MusicWorks Collective.

Come. You’ll never hear anything like this ever again.

–Laura Cetilia

Festival Schedule:

Thursday, October 19 at 7pm
RISD Museum Grand Gallery
For this first event of the Sonata Series, Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth perform Andre Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven and cellist Adrienne Taylor performs Beethoven with guest pianist Andrei Baumann.
RISD Museum, Grand Gallery 
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert and Museum Admission is free

Friday, October 20 at 8pm
Sutton Space Gallery
Community MusicWorks musicians and staff perform Cormier’s Candle Quartet, Fleurs d’équinoxe, and Plaie Mortelle.
159 Sutton Street, Providence
Suggested donation $20

Saturday, October 21 11am-5pm
RISD Museum-various galleries
Saturday’s day-long event features several performances: works based on the epic poem Conversations by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson (with guest soprano Andrea Young), a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by CMW Phase II students and Microbes performed by the MusicWorks Collective.
RISD Museum
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert is free with Museum admission

Saturday’s Schedule:
11am-Noon
Conversations 1 in the Grand Gallery
Noon-1pm
Microbes in the Grand Gallery
1pm-2pm
Conversations 3 in the Grand Gallery
2pm-3pm
Libellules in Various Galleries
3pm-4pm
Conversations 5 in the Grand Gallery

 

 

 

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

This year, Community MusicWorks launches its third decade, and as we step into the next chapter of this organization’s growth our work is urgent in new ways. Twenty years ago the idea of a string quartet in a permanent residency in an urban neighborhood was a fringe idea in classical music. The notion that an urban residency would be the core of a chamber group’s life and work and that community development would be an equal ambition to playing and teaching was new territory.

Now, two decades in, conservatories are graduating students with entrepreneurship training, many with a social change focus; musicians are seeking alternate venues to the traditional concert halls, and increasingly orchestras and concert series are investing in their communities. All this points to a movement that is robust, respected, and ever growing: musicians experimenting with new forms, new career paths, and new inquiries into the place of musicianship in contemporary life.

CMW in our third decade has a new task to help grow this generation of students and musicians. With the launch of our MusicWorks Network and Fellowship, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we lead a new conversation across the country into the connections between social justice and musical practice, and share ways in which young people’s participation in programs like CMW can support their paths to and through college. We are thrilled to be bringing together former participants from both the CMW Fellowship Program and Institutes for Musicianship and Public Service, now leading programs of their own in more than 15 cities across the country and in Canada, to grow and learn together.

In our concert series, Season 21 offers adventurous programming. You’ll notice that most programs feature one or more female composers’ works, an intentional effort to align our concert programming with our commitment to equity and social justice. From the season opener to the June finale, you’ll be invited into new sonic experiences—the driving intensity of Julia Wolfe’s “Cruel Sister,” a new work by Annika Socolofsky, a festival celebrating André Cormier’s quiet masterpieces, and the premiere of a work by Rhode Island composer Forrest Larson. There are many opportunities for new sounds and experiences!

Our tradition of Bach in November continues, including the fifth year of the overnight Bach marathon. This season also features a special benefit performance by Johnny Gandelsman (of Brooklyn Rider and the Silk Road Project) of all the Bach solo works for violin—a spiritual and physical feat rarely undertaken, even by violinists of the greatest stamina.

Our December Solstice Concert returns—back by popular demand! The storytelling and musical adventure takes us again from foxes and crows to the wind and a chickadee, whose song reminds us that music can bring light and hope—a wonderful allegorical tale that reflects CMW’s mission.

One final thought to carry with you as you help launch this third decade—our work is about each person’s continual development, or what Maxine Greene would call “being on the way.” From our students to our musician-teachers, to audience members and supporters, CMW’s mission focuses on encouraging all of us to be continually on our way—toward growth, deeper awareness, and indeed transformative experiences of beauty and community.

Let’s step together into the work of this third decade!

-Sebastian Ruth, Founder & Artistic Director

Check our Season 21 calendar here.

MusicWorks Network: A New Initiative

Within the past twenty-one years, CMW has offered professional musicians opportunities to re-imagine the very foundations of a classical music career, and to think more broadly about music as a way of engaging in and with communities.

This year, CMW has the opportunity to deepen that work with the support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a new initiative, Citizens of the World: Forging Pathways to College and Beyond. This strategic initiative is designed to substantially increase the number of racially diverse, low-income young people who gain access to critical skills that promote success. This work builds on CMW’s 20-year history of developing music-based education programs designed to open new worlds of opportunity to low-income African-American and Latino youth. Out of this work has come Phase II, an approach to developing fundamental skills and supports that promote college-going, that has led 95% of CMW graduates to continue to college.

CMW will share CMW’s successful college-going model across a network of community-based music education sites. Called the MusicWorks Network, this project will link 10-15 community-based music sites serving over 650 young people and convene them in an annual Summer Institute for training, resource-sharing, and collaborative evaluation.

The first Summer Institute took place this past August 22-30 as educators and staff from ten different organizations gathered at the beautiful Rolling Ridge Conference Center in North Andover, MA. Connecting around the ways that social justice practices and technical and artistic work on string instruments can support one another, teachers and staff came from Community MusicWorks, MusiConnects (Boston, MA), MyCincinnati (Cincinnati, OH), Musica Franklin (Franklin, MA), Orchestra of St. Luke’s (New York, New York), MusicHaven (New Haven, CT), Newport Strings (Newport, RI), Sistema New Brunswick (New Brunswick, St. John, Canada), Strong Harbor Strings (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada), and Neighborhood Strings (Worcester, MA).

Participants convened for a range of workshops and trainings, including a 2-day string pedagogy workshop with renowned violinist and teacher Mimi Zweig, a poetry and social justice workshop with poet Jonathan Mendoza, a workshop on anti-racist organizational frameworks with trainer and activist Adeola Oredola, and discussions and reflection around the creative synergy between string pedagogy and social justice teachings.

The Institute was designed and facilitated by Sebastian Ruth and Chloe Kline with the new MusicWorks Network staff: MusicWorks Network Director Jori Ketten and MusicWorks Network Fellow Andrew Oung. Part of the initiative, the MusicWorks Network Fellowship is a one-year position for alumni of CMW’s youth program or graduates of CMW’s two-year Fellowship Program to contribute to the MusicWorks Network. Andrew is our first alumni hire at CMW.

 

Revolution of Values

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise.

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:
[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!
–Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director

Revolution of Values: A Day of Creative Action

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise. 

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:

[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!

-Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director 

Art in a Time of Rage

As CMW musicians have been working over the past several weeks to articulate our response as artists and citizens to the many events of the new administration, our discussions have toggled between the actions we need to take raising our voices as engaged citizens and making music.

New Yorker music critic Alex Ross, who once profiled CMW, takes on this question in his post about how musicians make music in a time of rage. Ross quotes Lucy Caplan*, whose essay about CMW’s 2016 Art and Social Action symposium is The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts.

*A fun fact: Lucy worked with CMW’s Sebastian Ruth as a student in his Yale class, and then as a TA in his Music and Social Action Coursera class. Read more about Lucy here and here.

 

Links:
Alex Ross: Making Art in a Time of Rage
Alex Ross: Learning the Score (CMW Profile in the New Yorker)
Lucy Caplan: The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts
Sebastian Ruth: Music and Social Action (Coursera)

 

 

 

Talking and Listening: Behind the Scenes of 20 Years, 20 Stories

 

 

 

 

 

Linda Daniels is a writer, editor, cellist, CMW parent, former CMW Board member and expert eavesdropper. She helms the 20 Years, 20 Stories project and this is her story.

I’ve been an eavesdropper since childhood. My mother liked to pour herself a Royal Crown cola in the late afternoon, park herself on the couch and telephone her mother, which was my cue to c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y raise the extension handset upstairs. Usually, they discussed mundane matters:  pork chops versus chicken, how this season’s fashions were so unflattering and, now and then, family gossip. The topics were almost beside the point, except for the family gossip, which is why I eavesdropped in the first place. But I was also intrigued by the mysterious current of poetry running beneath even the most routine remarks. I loved the give and take of conversation, the sighs and pauses, the sound of my mother’s sympathetic tsk-tsk’s and my grandmother’s pretty brogue. I almost always got busted and was scolded, but not seriously enough to deter me from future attempts. Talking was as close as my family got to making music. No one sang or played an instrument, and my relatives just embarrassed themselves trying to clap along to music, but man, could these people talk. Listeners, even illicit ones, had a role to play, too. We completed the performance circle.

In college, Studs Terkel’s oral history Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do shaped my senior year thesis. I made the leap from habitual eavesdropper to scholarly interviewer and collected the oral histories of women who came of age during the 1920s. The best parts of the resulting 200-plus-page door-stopper were their reminiscences. After college, I became a reporter: more listening, more writing. Even after I quit newspapers and turned to other pursuits, I never lost the eavesdropping habit. My husband recognizes the faraway look that crosses my face when we’re in a public space and I hear something that bears further investigation, convinced, of course, that no one can tell what I’m up to. After 27 years, he also knows that whatever he and I were talking about will have to wait. More recently, I’ve been inspired by writer Svetlana Alexievich, who won a Nobel for Secondhand Time, her beautifully rendered oral history of post-Soviet Russians.

In September, I began an exciting new listening and writing project in connection with Community MusicWorks’ 20th anniversary: collecting 20 representative stories of CMW musicians, staff, students, parents and supporters. I’ve been expertly assisted by CMW fellow Josie Davis, who interviewed three people, and Communications Manager Liz Cox, who proofreads the stories and designs the online content. (Read the stories here.)

It hasn’t been difficult to get people to open up. I’ve been a familiar face at CMW since my youngest had his first cello lesson here ten years ago. I’ve exchanged knowing glances with other parents when a beginner nails “Twinkle” and held a collective breath during the dying notes of a Beethoven quartet performed by the pros. I’ve square-danced to fiddle tunes and attempted, much less successfully, the salsa.  I’ve sung rounds and set up folding chairs; fretted over budgets and strategic goals; eased my car past side-view mirrors on snow-bound Messer Street; knitted for newborns; and eaten far too much pizza.

Since people know me better as an at-large mom than as an interviewer and writer, some of my questions may discomfit. Recently, a student I was interviewing put up a hand and blurted, “That’s a weird question!” Um, ok. But can you answer it anyway? I remain confident that what I’m curious about others are too. She answered in good faith, trusting that I have her back. I am honored by that trust. You readers should be also. When people talk honestly they make themselves vulnerable. They don’t want to be misconstrued as they describe emotions and realizations that can’t be summarized by facts alone. This is especially true of CMW’s staff, who are talking about their life’s work.

It’s why I take the final step of the oral history process so seriously: converting 8-20 pages of interview transcript to a narrative that honors the speaker’s intentions, captures history while it’s still occurring, and compels readers. It’s a messy process. No matter how cleverly I order the questions and pursue answers during an interview, the talk meanders, as talk will. Even the most prepared and polished speakers wander off topic and speak colloquially, thank goodness. They are thinking out loud, which is where the music happens. It’s the difference between watching an official read a prepared statement from behind a podium and hearing him speak spontaneously from the heart when a reporter surprises him off-stage by asking exactly the right question at the right moment. I’m going for the latter.

Some “20 Years, 20 Stories” subjects have been flummoxed by the difference between the hour-plus interview they remember and the 2-5 page story I produce, having edited and condensed our conversation to a fare-thee-well, absenting my questions along the way. (Available here, if you’re curious.) They worry about being misperceived and about sounding too casual. They worry that they have said too much or too little. It is scary to see your constantly morphing thoughts marching in regimental black lines across white space. Where are the raised eyebrows signaling sincerity or the smile signaling warmth? Where are the tears that welled up when recalling a triumphant moment with a challenging student? Where’s a second or third chance to rephrase? To be more thoughtful? To explain more fully?

Oral history and chamber music have much in common. Both art forms strive to capture human experience through artifice and collaborative effort, and both are very much of the moment. Therein lies the thrill. Having made the artistic decision to omit interview questions in favor of narrative flow, I don’t worry that readers need cue cards. I trust that readers will appreciate what I appreciate about oral history: the idiosyncratic quirks of everyday speech as thoughtful people talk about things that matter. Subjects can trust their beautiful, one-of-a-kind voices to tell the story. The rest of us can pick up the extension and listen in.

The 20 Years, 20 Stories homepage.

Archives

CMW Celebrates 20 with Twenty Years, Twenty Stories

cmw20_header

 

 

 

This year Community MusicWorks turns 20! To mark the milestone, we are gathering the stories of 20 members of our community–musicians, students, parents, graduates and supporters. Look for new stories throughout the season.

Interviews were recorded, transcribed and edited to create personal narratives in each subject’s distinctive voice. We hope 20 Years, 20 Stories captures the many flavors and varieties of CMW experience. Join us at a concert anytime to start creating your own CMW story.

Read the interviews here.

 

community-day-cake

 

An Evening with Johnny Gandelsman in a Concert to Benefit CMW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community MusicWorks invites you to an evening with world-renowned violinist Johnny Gandelsman in a solo concert to benefit CMW.

Join us Thursday, November 9 at 7pm as Johnny Gandelsman of Silk Road and Brooklyn Rider performs the Six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin by J.S. Bach.  All proceeds of this concert will support the free music education programs at Community MusicWorks.

To hear Johnny Gandelsman play solo Bach is to hear someone with an impeccable technique and mastery of the instrument who has re-imagined these works and the gestures required to play them. Having grown up in Russia and Israel, and later studying at the Curtis Institute of Music, Johnny’s training readied him for a major international solo career. Instead, Johnny’s individual voice has led him to absorb styles of violin playing from historical recordings, Irish fiddlers, banjo virtuosos, Persian musicians and more, and he has incorporated all these elements into his sensibilities as a violinist, basically inventing his own style of violin playing.

The Six Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin are some of the deepest, most spiritually rich music for the violin (or for any instrument). They are part of every violinist’s journey throughout a lifetime–from learning the simpler movements in student years to tackling the signature epic movements at later stages, including the fugues, the Chaconne, and others. Few violinists record the entire set of six Sonatas and Partitas and fewer still perform them all at once. Johnny has done both, and will perform them as a benefit for CMW.

This is an event not to be missed!

Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 7pm
First Unitarian Church
1 Benevolent Street, Providence
$30 General Seating
$100 Preferred Seating with a pre-concert reception at 6pm
Purchase tickets here

 

 

 

October 19-21: Sonata Series and Ars Subtilior Festival features André Cormier

 

 

 

 

 

 


Composer André Cormier

Join us for a weekend focused on Composer-in-Residence André Cormier as part of the Sonata Series and the Ars Subtilior Festival. Beginning on Thursday, the Sonata Series Event at RISD will feature a performance of Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven, and events on Friday evening and an all-day event on Saturday will feature works by Cormier performed by the composer himself, special guests, the MusicWorks Collective and CMW students.

Strangely Beautiful and Slightly Twisted:
A Note from Ars Subtilior curator and CMW Resident Musician Laura Cetilia

An unprecedented event is upon us. On October 17, Acadian composer André Cormier will be arriving in Providence as composer-in-residence for the 2017 Ars Subtilior Festival at Community MusicWorks. For five days, CMW and its surroundings will be inundated with strangely beautiful and slightly twisted music from the Maritimes.

In the past, Ars Subtilior events were reserved for understated, small chamber music concerts that involved only a handful of CMW musicians with an occasional appearance by our Phase II students. This season, no holds barred.

Almost every person involved with CMW – from our Development Director to our youngest Daily Orchestra Program student – plus numerous guest performers coming all the way from California, Montreal and New York, will be included in this onslaught of experimental music.

The festival begins the day André arrives with a workshop/performance during All-Play at Calvary Baptist Church. Students of my SoundLab class will perform selections from the simple, but fruitful graphic score “Un ensemble d’actions possibles,” creating sounds on mini modular synthesizers that we’ve worked on in class in conjunction with some good old string playing. That day will also feature “25 Bars for Four Dollars” performed by Sarah Kim, Piero Guimaraes, Zan Berry, and myself on pennies.

That’s right, you heard me: pennies.

On Wednesday, Andre will visit with students of the Daily Orchestra Program, who will also be experimenting with pennies and playing through “Un ensemble d’actions possibles” while he offers composerly pointers.

On Thursday, Cormier’s “Scattershot Beethoven,” performed by Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth, and “Marie-Pierre,” performed by Andrei Baumann can be heard at the Sonata Series at RISD Museum. There will be a pre-concert reception: come by and meet André and the performers before the start of the program!

Friday will feature three different configurations of André’s chamber music: his take on a string quartet “Plaie Mortelle” (Mortal Wound), his Candle Quartet featuring our administrative staff (Katie, Kelly, Liz) and newly appointed DOP string teacher, Tessa Sacramone, all lighting and blowing out candles over the course of an hour. “Fleurs d’équinoxe,” a light and sparse circular score, will include the talents of alumnus Andrew Oung, formally local composer/performer JPA Falzone , our own Piero Guimaraes, along with members of the MusicWorks Collective.

Saturday, the final day of the festival, culminates in an extravaganza at RISD museum featuring 3 out of 10 volumes of works André composed based on the epic poem “Conversations” by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson. These are by far the lushest of Andre’s works and should not be missed. Guest artists Teodora Stepancic (pianist from New York), Andrea Young (soprano from Montreal) and Robin Streb (violist from Moncton) along with myself, will be bringing these works to life. That day will also include a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by Phase 2 students, trilling on their instruments like flying insects throughout the galleries. And finally, his string octet “Microbes” with quietly pulsating pizzicatos and meandering glissandi, played by the illustrious MusicWorks Collective.

Come. You’ll never hear anything like this ever again.

–Laura Cetilia

Festival Schedule:

Thursday, October 19 at 7pm
RISD Museum Grand Gallery
For this first event of the Sonata Series, Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth perform Andre Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven and cellist Adrienne Taylor performs Beethoven with guest pianist Andrei Baumann.
RISD Museum, Grand Gallery 
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert and Museum Admission is free

Friday, October 20 at 8pm
Sutton Space Gallery
Community MusicWorks musicians and staff perform Cormier’s Candle Quartet, Fleurs d’équinoxe, and Plaie Mortelle.
159 Sutton Street, Providence
Suggested donation $20

Saturday, October 21 11am-5pm
RISD Museum-various galleries
Saturday’s day-long event features several performances: works based on the epic poem Conversations by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson (with guest soprano Andrea Young), a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by CMW Phase II students and Microbes performed by the MusicWorks Collective.
RISD Museum
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert is free with Museum admission

Saturday’s Schedule:
11am-Noon
Conversations 1 in the Grand Gallery
Noon-1pm
Microbes in the Grand Gallery
1pm-2pm
Conversations 3 in the Grand Gallery
2pm-3pm
Libellules in Various Galleries
3pm-4pm
Conversations 5 in the Grand Gallery

 

 

 

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

This year, Community MusicWorks launches its third decade, and as we step into the next chapter of this organization’s growth our work is urgent in new ways. Twenty years ago the idea of a string quartet in a permanent residency in an urban neighborhood was a fringe idea in classical music. The notion that an urban residency would be the core of a chamber group’s life and work and that community development would be an equal ambition to playing and teaching was new territory.

Now, two decades in, conservatories are graduating students with entrepreneurship training, many with a social change focus; musicians are seeking alternate venues to the traditional concert halls, and increasingly orchestras and concert series are investing in their communities. All this points to a movement that is robust, respected, and ever growing: musicians experimenting with new forms, new career paths, and new inquiries into the place of musicianship in contemporary life.

CMW in our third decade has a new task to help grow this generation of students and musicians. With the launch of our MusicWorks Network and Fellowship, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we lead a new conversation across the country into the connections between social justice and musical practice, and share ways in which young people’s participation in programs like CMW can support their paths to and through college. We are thrilled to be bringing together former participants from both the CMW Fellowship Program and Institutes for Musicianship and Public Service, now leading programs of their own in more than 15 cities across the country and in Canada, to grow and learn together.

In our concert series, Season 21 offers adventurous programming. You’ll notice that most programs feature one or more female composers’ works, an intentional effort to align our concert programming with our commitment to equity and social justice. From the season opener to the June finale, you’ll be invited into new sonic experiences—the driving intensity of Julia Wolfe’s “Cruel Sister,” a new work by Annika Socolofsky, a festival celebrating André Cormier’s quiet masterpieces, and the premiere of a work by Rhode Island composer Forrest Larson. There are many opportunities for new sounds and experiences!

Our tradition of Bach in November continues, including the fifth year of the overnight Bach marathon. This season also features a special benefit performance by Johnny Gandelsman (of Brooklyn Rider and the Silk Road Project) of all the Bach solo works for violin—a spiritual and physical feat rarely undertaken, even by violinists of the greatest stamina.

Our December Solstice Concert returns—back by popular demand! The storytelling and musical adventure takes us again from foxes and crows to the wind and a chickadee, whose song reminds us that music can bring light and hope—a wonderful allegorical tale that reflects CMW’s mission.

One final thought to carry with you as you help launch this third decade—our work is about each person’s continual development, or what Maxine Greene would call “being on the way.” From our students to our musician-teachers, to audience members and supporters, CMW’s mission focuses on encouraging all of us to be continually on our way—toward growth, deeper awareness, and indeed transformative experiences of beauty and community.

Let’s step together into the work of this third decade!

-Sebastian Ruth, Founder & Artistic Director

Check our Season 21 calendar here.

MusicWorks Network: A New Initiative

Within the past twenty-one years, CMW has offered professional musicians opportunities to re-imagine the very foundations of a classical music career, and to think more broadly about music as a way of engaging in and with communities.

This year, CMW has the opportunity to deepen that work with the support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a new initiative, Citizens of the World: Forging Pathways to College and Beyond. This strategic initiative is designed to substantially increase the number of racially diverse, low-income young people who gain access to critical skills that promote success. This work builds on CMW’s 20-year history of developing music-based education programs designed to open new worlds of opportunity to low-income African-American and Latino youth. Out of this work has come Phase II, an approach to developing fundamental skills and supports that promote college-going, that has led 95% of CMW graduates to continue to college.

CMW will share CMW’s successful college-going model across a network of community-based music education sites. Called the MusicWorks Network, this project will link 10-15 community-based music sites serving over 650 young people and convene them in an annual Summer Institute for training, resource-sharing, and collaborative evaluation.

The first Summer Institute took place this past August 22-30 as educators and staff from ten different organizations gathered at the beautiful Rolling Ridge Conference Center in North Andover, MA. Connecting around the ways that social justice practices and technical and artistic work on string instruments can support one another, teachers and staff came from Community MusicWorks, MusiConnects (Boston, MA), MyCincinnati (Cincinnati, OH), Musica Franklin (Franklin, MA), Orchestra of St. Luke’s (New York, New York), MusicHaven (New Haven, CT), Newport Strings (Newport, RI), Sistema New Brunswick (New Brunswick, St. John, Canada), Strong Harbor Strings (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada), and Neighborhood Strings (Worcester, MA).

Participants convened for a range of workshops and trainings, including a 2-day string pedagogy workshop with renowned violinist and teacher Mimi Zweig, a poetry and social justice workshop with poet Jonathan Mendoza, a workshop on anti-racist organizational frameworks with trainer and activist Adeola Oredola, and discussions and reflection around the creative synergy between string pedagogy and social justice teachings.

The Institute was designed and facilitated by Sebastian Ruth and Chloe Kline with the new MusicWorks Network staff: MusicWorks Network Director Jori Ketten and MusicWorks Network Fellow Andrew Oung. Part of the initiative, the MusicWorks Network Fellowship is a one-year position for alumni of CMW’s youth program or graduates of CMW’s two-year Fellowship Program to contribute to the MusicWorks Network. Andrew is our first alumni hire at CMW.

 

Revolution of Values

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise.

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:
[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!
–Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director

Revolution of Values: A Day of Creative Action

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise. 

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:

[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!

-Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director 

Art in a Time of Rage

As CMW musicians have been working over the past several weeks to articulate our response as artists and citizens to the many events of the new administration, our discussions have toggled between the actions we need to take raising our voices as engaged citizens and making music.

New Yorker music critic Alex Ross, who once profiled CMW, takes on this question in his post about how musicians make music in a time of rage. Ross quotes Lucy Caplan*, whose essay about CMW’s 2016 Art and Social Action symposium is The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts.

*A fun fact: Lucy worked with CMW’s Sebastian Ruth as a student in his Yale class, and then as a TA in his Music and Social Action Coursera class. Read more about Lucy here and here.

 

Links:
Alex Ross: Making Art in a Time of Rage
Alex Ross: Learning the Score (CMW Profile in the New Yorker)
Lucy Caplan: The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts
Sebastian Ruth: Music and Social Action (Coursera)

 

 

 

Talking and Listening: Behind the Scenes of 20 Years, 20 Stories

 

 

 

 

 

Linda Daniels is a writer, editor, cellist, CMW parent, former CMW Board member and expert eavesdropper. She helms the 20 Years, 20 Stories project and this is her story.

I’ve been an eavesdropper since childhood. My mother liked to pour herself a Royal Crown cola in the late afternoon, park herself on the couch and telephone her mother, which was my cue to c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y raise the extension handset upstairs. Usually, they discussed mundane matters:  pork chops versus chicken, how this season’s fashions were so unflattering and, now and then, family gossip. The topics were almost beside the point, except for the family gossip, which is why I eavesdropped in the first place. But I was also intrigued by the mysterious current of poetry running beneath even the most routine remarks. I loved the give and take of conversation, the sighs and pauses, the sound of my mother’s sympathetic tsk-tsk’s and my grandmother’s pretty brogue. I almost always got busted and was scolded, but not seriously enough to deter me from future attempts. Talking was as close as my family got to making music. No one sang or played an instrument, and my relatives just embarrassed themselves trying to clap along to music, but man, could these people talk. Listeners, even illicit ones, had a role to play, too. We completed the performance circle.

In college, Studs Terkel’s oral history Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do shaped my senior year thesis. I made the leap from habitual eavesdropper to scholarly interviewer and collected the oral histories of women who came of age during the 1920s. The best parts of the resulting 200-plus-page door-stopper were their reminiscences. After college, I became a reporter: more listening, more writing. Even after I quit newspapers and turned to other pursuits, I never lost the eavesdropping habit. My husband recognizes the faraway look that crosses my face when we’re in a public space and I hear something that bears further investigation, convinced, of course, that no one can tell what I’m up to. After 27 years, he also knows that whatever he and I were talking about will have to wait. More recently, I’ve been inspired by writer Svetlana Alexievich, who won a Nobel for Secondhand Time, her beautifully rendered oral history of post-Soviet Russians.

In September, I began an exciting new listening and writing project in connection with Community MusicWorks’ 20th anniversary: collecting 20 representative stories of CMW musicians, staff, students, parents and supporters. I’ve been expertly assisted by CMW fellow Josie Davis, who interviewed three people, and Communications Manager Liz Cox, who proofreads the stories and designs the online content. (Read the stories here.)

It hasn’t been difficult to get people to open up. I’ve been a familiar face at CMW since my youngest had his first cello lesson here ten years ago. I’ve exchanged knowing glances with other parents when a beginner nails “Twinkle” and held a collective breath during the dying notes of a Beethoven quartet performed by the pros. I’ve square-danced to fiddle tunes and attempted, much less successfully, the salsa.  I’ve sung rounds and set up folding chairs; fretted over budgets and strategic goals; eased my car past side-view mirrors on snow-bound Messer Street; knitted for newborns; and eaten far too much pizza.

Since people know me better as an at-large mom than as an interviewer and writer, some of my questions may discomfit. Recently, a student I was interviewing put up a hand and blurted, “That’s a weird question!” Um, ok. But can you answer it anyway? I remain confident that what I’m curious about others are too. She answered in good faith, trusting that I have her back. I am honored by that trust. You readers should be also. When people talk honestly they make themselves vulnerable. They don’t want to be misconstrued as they describe emotions and realizations that can’t be summarized by facts alone. This is especially true of CMW’s staff, who are talking about their life’s work.

It’s why I take the final step of the oral history process so seriously: converting 8-20 pages of interview transcript to a narrative that honors the speaker’s intentions, captures history while it’s still occurring, and compels readers. It’s a messy process. No matter how cleverly I order the questions and pursue answers during an interview, the talk meanders, as talk will. Even the most prepared and polished speakers wander off topic and speak colloquially, thank goodness. They are thinking out loud, which is where the music happens. It’s the difference between watching an official read a prepared statement from behind a podium and hearing him speak spontaneously from the heart when a reporter surprises him off-stage by asking exactly the right question at the right moment. I’m going for the latter.

Some “20 Years, 20 Stories” subjects have been flummoxed by the difference between the hour-plus interview they remember and the 2-5 page story I produce, having edited and condensed our conversation to a fare-thee-well, absenting my questions along the way. (Available here, if you’re curious.) They worry about being misperceived and about sounding too casual. They worry that they have said too much or too little. It is scary to see your constantly morphing thoughts marching in regimental black lines across white space. Where are the raised eyebrows signaling sincerity or the smile signaling warmth? Where are the tears that welled up when recalling a triumphant moment with a challenging student? Where’s a second or third chance to rephrase? To be more thoughtful? To explain more fully?

Oral history and chamber music have much in common. Both art forms strive to capture human experience through artifice and collaborative effort, and both are very much of the moment. Therein lies the thrill. Having made the artistic decision to omit interview questions in favor of narrative flow, I don’t worry that readers need cue cards. I trust that readers will appreciate what I appreciate about oral history: the idiosyncratic quirks of everyday speech as thoughtful people talk about things that matter. Subjects can trust their beautiful, one-of-a-kind voices to tell the story. The rest of us can pick up the extension and listen in.

The 20 Years, 20 Stories homepage.

Archives

CMW Celebrates 20 with Twenty Years, Twenty Stories

cmw20_header

 

 

 

This year Community MusicWorks turns 20! To mark the milestone, we are gathering the stories of 20 members of our community–musicians, students, parents, graduates and supporters. Look for new stories throughout the season.

Interviews were recorded, transcribed and edited to create personal narratives in each subject’s distinctive voice. We hope 20 Years, 20 Stories captures the many flavors and varieties of CMW experience. Join us at a concert anytime to start creating your own CMW story.

Read the interviews here.

 

community-day-cake

 

An Evening with Johnny Gandelsman in a Concert to Benefit CMW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community MusicWorks invites you to an evening with world-renowned violinist Johnny Gandelsman in a solo concert to benefit CMW.

Join us Thursday, November 9 at 7pm as Johnny Gandelsman of Silk Road and Brooklyn Rider performs the Six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin by J.S. Bach.  All proceeds of this concert will support the free music education programs at Community MusicWorks.

To hear Johnny Gandelsman play solo Bach is to hear someone with an impeccable technique and mastery of the instrument who has re-imagined these works and the gestures required to play them. Having grown up in Russia and Israel, and later studying at the Curtis Institute of Music, Johnny’s training readied him for a major international solo career. Instead, Johnny’s individual voice has led him to absorb styles of violin playing from historical recordings, Irish fiddlers, banjo virtuosos, Persian musicians and more, and he has incorporated all these elements into his sensibilities as a violinist, basically inventing his own style of violin playing.

The Six Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin are some of the deepest, most spiritually rich music for the violin (or for any instrument). They are part of every violinist’s journey throughout a lifetime–from learning the simpler movements in student years to tackling the signature epic movements at later stages, including the fugues, the Chaconne, and others. Few violinists record the entire set of six Sonatas and Partitas and fewer still perform them all at once. Johnny has done both, and will perform them as a benefit for CMW.

This is an event not to be missed!

Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 7pm
First Unitarian Church
1 Benevolent Street, Providence
$30 General Seating
$100 Preferred Seating with a pre-concert reception at 6pm
Purchase tickets here

 

 

 

October 19-21: Sonata Series and Ars Subtilior Festival features André Cormier

 

 

 

 

 

 


Composer André Cormier

Join us for a weekend focused on Composer-in-Residence André Cormier as part of the Sonata Series and the Ars Subtilior Festival. Beginning on Thursday, the Sonata Series Event at RISD will feature a performance of Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven, and events on Friday evening and an all-day event on Saturday will feature works by Cormier performed by the composer himself, special guests, the MusicWorks Collective and CMW students.

Strangely Beautiful and Slightly Twisted:
A Note from Ars Subtilior curator and CMW Resident Musician Laura Cetilia

An unprecedented event is upon us. On October 17, Acadian composer André Cormier will be arriving in Providence as composer-in-residence for the 2017 Ars Subtilior Festival at Community MusicWorks. For five days, CMW and its surroundings will be inundated with strangely beautiful and slightly twisted music from the Maritimes.

In the past, Ars Subtilior events were reserved for understated, small chamber music concerts that involved only a handful of CMW musicians with an occasional appearance by our Phase II students. This season, no holds barred.

Almost every person involved with CMW – from our Development Director to our youngest Daily Orchestra Program student – plus numerous guest performers coming all the way from California, Montreal and New York, will be included in this onslaught of experimental music.

The festival begins the day André arrives with a workshop/performance during All-Play at Calvary Baptist Church. Students of my SoundLab class will perform selections from the simple, but fruitful graphic score “Un ensemble d’actions possibles,” creating sounds on mini modular synthesizers that we’ve worked on in class in conjunction with some good old string playing. That day will also feature “25 Bars for Four Dollars” performed by Sarah Kim, Piero Guimaraes, Zan Berry, and myself on pennies.

That’s right, you heard me: pennies.

On Wednesday, Andre will visit with students of the Daily Orchestra Program, who will also be experimenting with pennies and playing through “Un ensemble d’actions possibles” while he offers composerly pointers.

On Thursday, Cormier’s “Scattershot Beethoven,” performed by Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth, and “Marie-Pierre,” performed by Andrei Baumann can be heard at the Sonata Series at RISD Museum. There will be a pre-concert reception: come by and meet André and the performers before the start of the program!

Friday will feature three different configurations of André’s chamber music: his take on a string quartet “Plaie Mortelle” (Mortal Wound), his Candle Quartet featuring our administrative staff (Katie, Kelly, Liz) and newly appointed DOP string teacher, Tessa Sacramone, all lighting and blowing out candles over the course of an hour. “Fleurs d’équinoxe,” a light and sparse circular score, will include the talents of alumnus Andrew Oung, formally local composer/performer JPA Falzone , our own Piero Guimaraes, along with members of the MusicWorks Collective.

Saturday, the final day of the festival, culminates in an extravaganza at RISD museum featuring 3 out of 10 volumes of works André composed based on the epic poem “Conversations” by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson. These are by far the lushest of Andre’s works and should not be missed. Guest artists Teodora Stepancic (pianist from New York), Andrea Young (soprano from Montreal) and Robin Streb (violist from Moncton) along with myself, will be bringing these works to life. That day will also include a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by Phase 2 students, trilling on their instruments like flying insects throughout the galleries. And finally, his string octet “Microbes” with quietly pulsating pizzicatos and meandering glissandi, played by the illustrious MusicWorks Collective.

Come. You’ll never hear anything like this ever again.

–Laura Cetilia

Festival Schedule:

Thursday, October 19 at 7pm
RISD Museum Grand Gallery
For this first event of the Sonata Series, Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth perform Andre Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven and cellist Adrienne Taylor performs Beethoven with guest pianist Andrei Baumann.
RISD Museum, Grand Gallery 
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert and Museum Admission is free

Friday, October 20 at 8pm
Sutton Space Gallery
Community MusicWorks musicians and staff perform Cormier’s Candle Quartet, Fleurs d’équinoxe, and Plaie Mortelle.
159 Sutton Street, Providence
Suggested donation $20

Saturday, October 21 11am-5pm
RISD Museum-various galleries
Saturday’s day-long event features several performances: works based on the epic poem Conversations by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson (with guest soprano Andrea Young), a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by CMW Phase II students and Microbes performed by the MusicWorks Collective.
RISD Museum
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert is free with Museum admission

Saturday’s Schedule:
11am-Noon
Conversations 1 in the Grand Gallery
Noon-1pm
Microbes in the Grand Gallery
1pm-2pm
Conversations 3 in the Grand Gallery
2pm-3pm
Libellules in Various Galleries
3pm-4pm
Conversations 5 in the Grand Gallery

 

 

 

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

This year, Community MusicWorks launches its third decade, and as we step into the next chapter of this organization’s growth our work is urgent in new ways. Twenty years ago the idea of a string quartet in a permanent residency in an urban neighborhood was a fringe idea in classical music. The notion that an urban residency would be the core of a chamber group’s life and work and that community development would be an equal ambition to playing and teaching was new territory.

Now, two decades in, conservatories are graduating students with entrepreneurship training, many with a social change focus; musicians are seeking alternate venues to the traditional concert halls, and increasingly orchestras and concert series are investing in their communities. All this points to a movement that is robust, respected, and ever growing: musicians experimenting with new forms, new career paths, and new inquiries into the place of musicianship in contemporary life.

CMW in our third decade has a new task to help grow this generation of students and musicians. With the launch of our MusicWorks Network and Fellowship, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we lead a new conversation across the country into the connections between social justice and musical practice, and share ways in which young people’s participation in programs like CMW can support their paths to and through college. We are thrilled to be bringing together former participants from both the CMW Fellowship Program and Institutes for Musicianship and Public Service, now leading programs of their own in more than 15 cities across the country and in Canada, to grow and learn together.

In our concert series, Season 21 offers adventurous programming. You’ll notice that most programs feature one or more female composers’ works, an intentional effort to align our concert programming with our commitment to equity and social justice. From the season opener to the June finale, you’ll be invited into new sonic experiences—the driving intensity of Julia Wolfe’s “Cruel Sister,” a new work by Annika Socolofsky, a festival celebrating André Cormier’s quiet masterpieces, and the premiere of a work by Rhode Island composer Forrest Larson. There are many opportunities for new sounds and experiences!

Our tradition of Bach in November continues, including the fifth year of the overnight Bach marathon. This season also features a special benefit performance by Johnny Gandelsman (of Brooklyn Rider and the Silk Road Project) of all the Bach solo works for violin—a spiritual and physical feat rarely undertaken, even by violinists of the greatest stamina.

Our December Solstice Concert returns—back by popular demand! The storytelling and musical adventure takes us again from foxes and crows to the wind and a chickadee, whose song reminds us that music can bring light and hope—a wonderful allegorical tale that reflects CMW’s mission.

One final thought to carry with you as you help launch this third decade—our work is about each person’s continual development, or what Maxine Greene would call “being on the way.” From our students to our musician-teachers, to audience members and supporters, CMW’s mission focuses on encouraging all of us to be continually on our way—toward growth, deeper awareness, and indeed transformative experiences of beauty and community.

Let’s step together into the work of this third decade!

-Sebastian Ruth, Founder & Artistic Director

Check our Season 21 calendar here.

MusicWorks Network: A New Initiative

Within the past twenty-one years, CMW has offered professional musicians opportunities to re-imagine the very foundations of a classical music career, and to think more broadly about music as a way of engaging in and with communities.

This year, CMW has the opportunity to deepen that work with the support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a new initiative, Citizens of the World: Forging Pathways to College and Beyond. This strategic initiative is designed to substantially increase the number of racially diverse, low-income young people who gain access to critical skills that promote success. This work builds on CMW’s 20-year history of developing music-based education programs designed to open new worlds of opportunity to low-income African-American and Latino youth. Out of this work has come Phase II, an approach to developing fundamental skills and supports that promote college-going, that has led 95% of CMW graduates to continue to college.

CMW will share CMW’s successful college-going model across a network of community-based music education sites. Called the MusicWorks Network, this project will link 10-15 community-based music sites serving over 650 young people and convene them in an annual Summer Institute for training, resource-sharing, and collaborative evaluation.

The first Summer Institute took place this past August 22-30 as educators and staff from ten different organizations gathered at the beautiful Rolling Ridge Conference Center in North Andover, MA. Connecting around the ways that social justice practices and technical and artistic work on string instruments can support one another, teachers and staff came from Community MusicWorks, MusiConnects (Boston, MA), MyCincinnati (Cincinnati, OH), Musica Franklin (Franklin, MA), Orchestra of St. Luke’s (New York, New York), MusicHaven (New Haven, CT), Newport Strings (Newport, RI), Sistema New Brunswick (New Brunswick, St. John, Canada), Strong Harbor Strings (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada), and Neighborhood Strings (Worcester, MA).

Participants convened for a range of workshops and trainings, including a 2-day string pedagogy workshop with renowned violinist and teacher Mimi Zweig, a poetry and social justice workshop with poet Jonathan Mendoza, a workshop on anti-racist organizational frameworks with trainer and activist Adeola Oredola, and discussions and reflection around the creative synergy between string pedagogy and social justice teachings.

The Institute was designed and facilitated by Sebastian Ruth and Chloe Kline with the new MusicWorks Network staff: MusicWorks Network Director Jori Ketten and MusicWorks Network Fellow Andrew Oung. Part of the initiative, the MusicWorks Network Fellowship is a one-year position for alumni of CMW’s youth program or graduates of CMW’s two-year Fellowship Program to contribute to the MusicWorks Network. Andrew is our first alumni hire at CMW.

 

Revolution of Values

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise.

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:
[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!
–Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director

Revolution of Values: A Day of Creative Action

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise. 

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:

[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!

-Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director 

Art in a Time of Rage

As CMW musicians have been working over the past several weeks to articulate our response as artists and citizens to the many events of the new administration, our discussions have toggled between the actions we need to take raising our voices as engaged citizens and making music.

New Yorker music critic Alex Ross, who once profiled CMW, takes on this question in his post about how musicians make music in a time of rage. Ross quotes Lucy Caplan*, whose essay about CMW’s 2016 Art and Social Action symposium is The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts.

*A fun fact: Lucy worked with CMW’s Sebastian Ruth as a student in his Yale class, and then as a TA in his Music and Social Action Coursera class. Read more about Lucy here and here.

 

Links:
Alex Ross: Making Art in a Time of Rage
Alex Ross: Learning the Score (CMW Profile in the New Yorker)
Lucy Caplan: The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts
Sebastian Ruth: Music and Social Action (Coursera)

 

 

 

Talking and Listening: Behind the Scenes of 20 Years, 20 Stories

 

 

 

 

 

Linda Daniels is a writer, editor, cellist, CMW parent, former CMW Board member and expert eavesdropper. She helms the 20 Years, 20 Stories project and this is her story.

I’ve been an eavesdropper since childhood. My mother liked to pour herself a Royal Crown cola in the late afternoon, park herself on the couch and telephone her mother, which was my cue to c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y raise the extension handset upstairs. Usually, they discussed mundane matters:  pork chops versus chicken, how this season’s fashions were so unflattering and, now and then, family gossip. The topics were almost beside the point, except for the family gossip, which is why I eavesdropped in the first place. But I was also intrigued by the mysterious current of poetry running beneath even the most routine remarks. I loved the give and take of conversation, the sighs and pauses, the sound of my mother’s sympathetic tsk-tsk’s and my grandmother’s pretty brogue. I almost always got busted and was scolded, but not seriously enough to deter me from future attempts. Talking was as close as my family got to making music. No one sang or played an instrument, and my relatives just embarrassed themselves trying to clap along to music, but man, could these people talk. Listeners, even illicit ones, had a role to play, too. We completed the performance circle.

In college, Studs Terkel’s oral history Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do shaped my senior year thesis. I made the leap from habitual eavesdropper to scholarly interviewer and collected the oral histories of women who came of age during the 1920s. The best parts of the resulting 200-plus-page door-stopper were their reminiscences. After college, I became a reporter: more listening, more writing. Even after I quit newspapers and turned to other pursuits, I never lost the eavesdropping habit. My husband recognizes the faraway look that crosses my face when we’re in a public space and I hear something that bears further investigation, convinced, of course, that no one can tell what I’m up to. After 27 years, he also knows that whatever he and I were talking about will have to wait. More recently, I’ve been inspired by writer Svetlana Alexievich, who won a Nobel for Secondhand Time, her beautifully rendered oral history of post-Soviet Russians.

In September, I began an exciting new listening and writing project in connection with Community MusicWorks’ 20th anniversary: collecting 20 representative stories of CMW musicians, staff, students, parents and supporters. I’ve been expertly assisted by CMW fellow Josie Davis, who interviewed three people, and Communications Manager Liz Cox, who proofreads the stories and designs the online content. (Read the stories here.)

It hasn’t been difficult to get people to open up. I’ve been a familiar face at CMW since my youngest had his first cello lesson here ten years ago. I’ve exchanged knowing glances with other parents when a beginner nails “Twinkle” and held a collective breath during the dying notes of a Beethoven quartet performed by the pros. I’ve square-danced to fiddle tunes and attempted, much less successfully, the salsa.  I’ve sung rounds and set up folding chairs; fretted over budgets and strategic goals; eased my car past side-view mirrors on snow-bound Messer Street; knitted for newborns; and eaten far too much pizza.

Since people know me better as an at-large mom than as an interviewer and writer, some of my questions may discomfit. Recently, a student I was interviewing put up a hand and blurted, “That’s a weird question!” Um, ok. But can you answer it anyway? I remain confident that what I’m curious about others are too. She answered in good faith, trusting that I have her back. I am honored by that trust. You readers should be also. When people talk honestly they make themselves vulnerable. They don’t want to be misconstrued as they describe emotions and realizations that can’t be summarized by facts alone. This is especially true of CMW’s staff, who are talking about their life’s work.

It’s why I take the final step of the oral history process so seriously: converting 8-20 pages of interview transcript to a narrative that honors the speaker’s intentions, captures history while it’s still occurring, and compels readers. It’s a messy process. No matter how cleverly I order the questions and pursue answers during an interview, the talk meanders, as talk will. Even the most prepared and polished speakers wander off topic and speak colloquially, thank goodness. They are thinking out loud, which is where the music happens. It’s the difference between watching an official read a prepared statement from behind a podium and hearing him speak spontaneously from the heart when a reporter surprises him off-stage by asking exactly the right question at the right moment. I’m going for the latter.

Some “20 Years, 20 Stories” subjects have been flummoxed by the difference between the hour-plus interview they remember and the 2-5 page story I produce, having edited and condensed our conversation to a fare-thee-well, absenting my questions along the way. (Available here, if you’re curious.) They worry about being misperceived and about sounding too casual. They worry that they have said too much or too little. It is scary to see your constantly morphing thoughts marching in regimental black lines across white space. Where are the raised eyebrows signaling sincerity or the smile signaling warmth? Where are the tears that welled up when recalling a triumphant moment with a challenging student? Where’s a second or third chance to rephrase? To be more thoughtful? To explain more fully?

Oral history and chamber music have much in common. Both art forms strive to capture human experience through artifice and collaborative effort, and both are very much of the moment. Therein lies the thrill. Having made the artistic decision to omit interview questions in favor of narrative flow, I don’t worry that readers need cue cards. I trust that readers will appreciate what I appreciate about oral history: the idiosyncratic quirks of everyday speech as thoughtful people talk about things that matter. Subjects can trust their beautiful, one-of-a-kind voices to tell the story. The rest of us can pick up the extension and listen in.

The 20 Years, 20 Stories homepage.

Archives

CMW Celebrates 20 with Twenty Years, Twenty Stories

cmw20_header

 

 

 

This year Community MusicWorks turns 20! To mark the milestone, we are gathering the stories of 20 members of our community–musicians, students, parents, graduates and supporters. Look for new stories throughout the season.

Interviews were recorded, transcribed and edited to create personal narratives in each subject’s distinctive voice. We hope 20 Years, 20 Stories captures the many flavors and varieties of CMW experience. Join us at a concert anytime to start creating your own CMW story.

Read the interviews here.

 

community-day-cake

 

An Evening with Johnny Gandelsman in a Concert to Benefit CMW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community MusicWorks invites you to an evening with world-renowned violinist Johnny Gandelsman in a solo concert to benefit CMW.

Join us Thursday, November 9 at 7pm as Johnny Gandelsman of Silk Road and Brooklyn Rider performs the Six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin by J.S. Bach.  All proceeds of this concert will support the free music education programs at Community MusicWorks.

To hear Johnny Gandelsman play solo Bach is to hear someone with an impeccable technique and mastery of the instrument who has re-imagined these works and the gestures required to play them. Having grown up in Russia and Israel, and later studying at the Curtis Institute of Music, Johnny’s training readied him for a major international solo career. Instead, Johnny’s individual voice has led him to absorb styles of violin playing from historical recordings, Irish fiddlers, banjo virtuosos, Persian musicians and more, and he has incorporated all these elements into his sensibilities as a violinist, basically inventing his own style of violin playing.

The Six Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin are some of the deepest, most spiritually rich music for the violin (or for any instrument). They are part of every violinist’s journey throughout a lifetime–from learning the simpler movements in student years to tackling the signature epic movements at later stages, including the fugues, the Chaconne, and others. Few violinists record the entire set of six Sonatas and Partitas and fewer still perform them all at once. Johnny has done both, and will perform them as a benefit for CMW.

This is an event not to be missed!

Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 7pm
First Unitarian Church
1 Benevolent Street, Providence
$30 General Seating
$100 Preferred Seating with a pre-concert reception at 6pm
Purchase tickets here

 

 

 

October 19-21: Sonata Series and Ars Subtilior Festival features André Cormier

 

 

 

 

 

 


Composer André Cormier

Join us for a weekend focused on Composer-in-Residence André Cormier as part of the Sonata Series and the Ars Subtilior Festival. Beginning on Thursday, the Sonata Series Event at RISD will feature a performance of Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven, and events on Friday evening and an all-day event on Saturday will feature works by Cormier performed by the composer himself, special guests, the MusicWorks Collective and CMW students.

Strangely Beautiful and Slightly Twisted:
A Note from Ars Subtilior curator and CMW Resident Musician Laura Cetilia

An unprecedented event is upon us. On October 17, Acadian composer André Cormier will be arriving in Providence as composer-in-residence for the 2017 Ars Subtilior Festival at Community MusicWorks. For five days, CMW and its surroundings will be inundated with strangely beautiful and slightly twisted music from the Maritimes.

In the past, Ars Subtilior events were reserved for understated, small chamber music concerts that involved only a handful of CMW musicians with an occasional appearance by our Phase II students. This season, no holds barred.

Almost every person involved with CMW – from our Development Director to our youngest Daily Orchestra Program student – plus numerous guest performers coming all the way from California, Montreal and New York, will be included in this onslaught of experimental music.

The festival begins the day André arrives with a workshop/performance during All-Play at Calvary Baptist Church. Students of my SoundLab class will perform selections from the simple, but fruitful graphic score “Un ensemble d’actions possibles,” creating sounds on mini modular synthesizers that we’ve worked on in class in conjunction with some good old string playing. That day will also feature “25 Bars for Four Dollars” performed by Sarah Kim, Piero Guimaraes, Zan Berry, and myself on pennies.

That’s right, you heard me: pennies.

On Wednesday, Andre will visit with students of the Daily Orchestra Program, who will also be experimenting with pennies and playing through “Un ensemble d’actions possibles” while he offers composerly pointers.

On Thursday, Cormier’s “Scattershot Beethoven,” performed by Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth, and “Marie-Pierre,” performed by Andrei Baumann can be heard at the Sonata Series at RISD Museum. There will be a pre-concert reception: come by and meet André and the performers before the start of the program!

Friday will feature three different configurations of André’s chamber music: his take on a string quartet “Plaie Mortelle” (Mortal Wound), his Candle Quartet featuring our administrative staff (Katie, Kelly, Liz) and newly appointed DOP string teacher, Tessa Sacramone, all lighting and blowing out candles over the course of an hour. “Fleurs d’équinoxe,” a light and sparse circular score, will include the talents of alumnus Andrew Oung, formally local composer/performer JPA Falzone , our own Piero Guimaraes, along with members of the MusicWorks Collective.

Saturday, the final day of the festival, culminates in an extravaganza at RISD museum featuring 3 out of 10 volumes of works André composed based on the epic poem “Conversations” by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson. These are by far the lushest of Andre’s works and should not be missed. Guest artists Teodora Stepancic (pianist from New York), Andrea Young (soprano from Montreal) and Robin Streb (violist from Moncton) along with myself, will be bringing these works to life. That day will also include a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by Phase 2 students, trilling on their instruments like flying insects throughout the galleries. And finally, his string octet “Microbes” with quietly pulsating pizzicatos and meandering glissandi, played by the illustrious MusicWorks Collective.

Come. You’ll never hear anything like this ever again.

–Laura Cetilia

Festival Schedule:

Thursday, October 19 at 7pm
RISD Museum Grand Gallery
For this first event of the Sonata Series, Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth perform Andre Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven and cellist Adrienne Taylor performs Beethoven with guest pianist Andrei Baumann.
RISD Museum, Grand Gallery 
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert and Museum Admission is free

Friday, October 20 at 8pm
Sutton Space Gallery
Community MusicWorks musicians and staff perform Cormier’s Candle Quartet, Fleurs d’équinoxe, and Plaie Mortelle.
159 Sutton Street, Providence
Suggested donation $20

Saturday, October 21 11am-5pm
RISD Museum-various galleries
Saturday’s day-long event features several performances: works based on the epic poem Conversations by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson (with guest soprano Andrea Young), a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by CMW Phase II students and Microbes performed by the MusicWorks Collective.
RISD Museum
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert is free with Museum admission

Saturday’s Schedule:
11am-Noon
Conversations 1 in the Grand Gallery
Noon-1pm
Microbes in the Grand Gallery
1pm-2pm
Conversations 3 in the Grand Gallery
2pm-3pm
Libellules in Various Galleries
3pm-4pm
Conversations 5 in the Grand Gallery

 

 

 

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

This year, Community MusicWorks launches its third decade, and as we step into the next chapter of this organization’s growth our work is urgent in new ways. Twenty years ago the idea of a string quartet in a permanent residency in an urban neighborhood was a fringe idea in classical music. The notion that an urban residency would be the core of a chamber group’s life and work and that community development would be an equal ambition to playing and teaching was new territory.

Now, two decades in, conservatories are graduating students with entrepreneurship training, many with a social change focus; musicians are seeking alternate venues to the traditional concert halls, and increasingly orchestras and concert series are investing in their communities. All this points to a movement that is robust, respected, and ever growing: musicians experimenting with new forms, new career paths, and new inquiries into the place of musicianship in contemporary life.

CMW in our third decade has a new task to help grow this generation of students and musicians. With the launch of our MusicWorks Network and Fellowship, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we lead a new conversation across the country into the connections between social justice and musical practice, and share ways in which young people’s participation in programs like CMW can support their paths to and through college. We are thrilled to be bringing together former participants from both the CMW Fellowship Program and Institutes for Musicianship and Public Service, now leading programs of their own in more than 15 cities across the country and in Canada, to grow and learn together.

In our concert series, Season 21 offers adventurous programming. You’ll notice that most programs feature one or more female composers’ works, an intentional effort to align our concert programming with our commitment to equity and social justice. From the season opener to the June finale, you’ll be invited into new sonic experiences—the driving intensity of Julia Wolfe’s “Cruel Sister,” a new work by Annika Socolofsky, a festival celebrating André Cormier’s quiet masterpieces, and the premiere of a work by Rhode Island composer Forrest Larson. There are many opportunities for new sounds and experiences!

Our tradition of Bach in November continues, including the fifth year of the overnight Bach marathon. This season also features a special benefit performance by Johnny Gandelsman (of Brooklyn Rider and the Silk Road Project) of all the Bach solo works for violin—a spiritual and physical feat rarely undertaken, even by violinists of the greatest stamina.

Our December Solstice Concert returns—back by popular demand! The storytelling and musical adventure takes us again from foxes and crows to the wind and a chickadee, whose song reminds us that music can bring light and hope—a wonderful allegorical tale that reflects CMW’s mission.

One final thought to carry with you as you help launch this third decade—our work is about each person’s continual development, or what Maxine Greene would call “being on the way.” From our students to our musician-teachers, to audience members and supporters, CMW’s mission focuses on encouraging all of us to be continually on our way—toward growth, deeper awareness, and indeed transformative experiences of beauty and community.

Let’s step together into the work of this third decade!

-Sebastian Ruth, Founder & Artistic Director

Check our Season 21 calendar here.

MusicWorks Network: A New Initiative

Within the past twenty-one years, CMW has offered professional musicians opportunities to re-imagine the very foundations of a classical music career, and to think more broadly about music as a way of engaging in and with communities.

This year, CMW has the opportunity to deepen that work with the support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a new initiative, Citizens of the World: Forging Pathways to College and Beyond. This strategic initiative is designed to substantially increase the number of racially diverse, low-income young people who gain access to critical skills that promote success. This work builds on CMW’s 20-year history of developing music-based education programs designed to open new worlds of opportunity to low-income African-American and Latino youth. Out of this work has come Phase II, an approach to developing fundamental skills and supports that promote college-going, that has led 95% of CMW graduates to continue to college.

CMW will share CMW’s successful college-going model across a network of community-based music education sites. Called the MusicWorks Network, this project will link 10-15 community-based music sites serving over 650 young people and convene them in an annual Summer Institute for training, resource-sharing, and collaborative evaluation.

The first Summer Institute took place this past August 22-30 as educators and staff from ten different organizations gathered at the beautiful Rolling Ridge Conference Center in North Andover, MA. Connecting around the ways that social justice practices and technical and artistic work on string instruments can support one another, teachers and staff came from Community MusicWorks, MusiConnects (Boston, MA), MyCincinnati (Cincinnati, OH), Musica Franklin (Franklin, MA), Orchestra of St. Luke’s (New York, New York), MusicHaven (New Haven, CT), Newport Strings (Newport, RI), Sistema New Brunswick (New Brunswick, St. John, Canada), Strong Harbor Strings (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada), and Neighborhood Strings (Worcester, MA).

Participants convened for a range of workshops and trainings, including a 2-day string pedagogy workshop with renowned violinist and teacher Mimi Zweig, a poetry and social justice workshop with poet Jonathan Mendoza, a workshop on anti-racist organizational frameworks with trainer and activist Adeola Oredola, and discussions and reflection around the creative synergy between string pedagogy and social justice teachings.

The Institute was designed and facilitated by Sebastian Ruth and Chloe Kline with the new MusicWorks Network staff: MusicWorks Network Director Jori Ketten and MusicWorks Network Fellow Andrew Oung. Part of the initiative, the MusicWorks Network Fellowship is a one-year position for alumni of CMW’s youth program or graduates of CMW’s two-year Fellowship Program to contribute to the MusicWorks Network. Andrew is our first alumni hire at CMW.

 

Revolution of Values

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise.

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:
[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!
–Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director

Revolution of Values: A Day of Creative Action

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise. 

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:

[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!

-Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director 

Art in a Time of Rage

As CMW musicians have been working over the past several weeks to articulate our response as artists and citizens to the many events of the new administration, our discussions have toggled between the actions we need to take raising our voices as engaged citizens and making music.

New Yorker music critic Alex Ross, who once profiled CMW, takes on this question in his post about how musicians make music in a time of rage. Ross quotes Lucy Caplan*, whose essay about CMW’s 2016 Art and Social Action symposium is The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts.

*A fun fact: Lucy worked with CMW’s Sebastian Ruth as a student in his Yale class, and then as a TA in his Music and Social Action Coursera class. Read more about Lucy here and here.

 

Links:
Alex Ross: Making Art in a Time of Rage
Alex Ross: Learning the Score (CMW Profile in the New Yorker)
Lucy Caplan: The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts
Sebastian Ruth: Music and Social Action (Coursera)

 

 

 

Talking and Listening: Behind the Scenes of 20 Years, 20 Stories

 

 

 

 

 

Linda Daniels is a writer, editor, cellist, CMW parent, former CMW Board member and expert eavesdropper. She helms the 20 Years, 20 Stories project and this is her story.

I’ve been an eavesdropper since childhood. My mother liked to pour herself a Royal Crown cola in the late afternoon, park herself on the couch and telephone her mother, which was my cue to c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y raise the extension handset upstairs. Usually, they discussed mundane matters:  pork chops versus chicken, how this season’s fashions were so unflattering and, now and then, family gossip. The topics were almost beside the point, except for the family gossip, which is why I eavesdropped in the first place. But I was also intrigued by the mysterious current of poetry running beneath even the most routine remarks. I loved the give and take of conversation, the sighs and pauses, the sound of my mother’s sympathetic tsk-tsk’s and my grandmother’s pretty brogue. I almost always got busted and was scolded, but not seriously enough to deter me from future attempts. Talking was as close as my family got to making music. No one sang or played an instrument, and my relatives just embarrassed themselves trying to clap along to music, but man, could these people talk. Listeners, even illicit ones, had a role to play, too. We completed the performance circle.

In college, Studs Terkel’s oral history Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do shaped my senior year thesis. I made the leap from habitual eavesdropper to scholarly interviewer and collected the oral histories of women who came of age during the 1920s. The best parts of the resulting 200-plus-page door-stopper were their reminiscences. After college, I became a reporter: more listening, more writing. Even after I quit newspapers and turned to other pursuits, I never lost the eavesdropping habit. My husband recognizes the faraway look that crosses my face when we’re in a public space and I hear something that bears further investigation, convinced, of course, that no one can tell what I’m up to. After 27 years, he also knows that whatever he and I were talking about will have to wait. More recently, I’ve been inspired by writer Svetlana Alexievich, who won a Nobel for Secondhand Time, her beautifully rendered oral history of post-Soviet Russians.

In September, I began an exciting new listening and writing project in connection with Community MusicWorks’ 20th anniversary: collecting 20 representative stories of CMW musicians, staff, students, parents and supporters. I’ve been expertly assisted by CMW fellow Josie Davis, who interviewed three people, and Communications Manager Liz Cox, who proofreads the stories and designs the online content. (Read the stories here.)

It hasn’t been difficult to get people to open up. I’ve been a familiar face at CMW since my youngest had his first cello lesson here ten years ago. I’ve exchanged knowing glances with other parents when a beginner nails “Twinkle” and held a collective breath during the dying notes of a Beethoven quartet performed by the pros. I’ve square-danced to fiddle tunes and attempted, much less successfully, the salsa.  I’ve sung rounds and set up folding chairs; fretted over budgets and strategic goals; eased my car past side-view mirrors on snow-bound Messer Street; knitted for newborns; and eaten far too much pizza.

Since people know me better as an at-large mom than as an interviewer and writer, some of my questions may discomfit. Recently, a student I was interviewing put up a hand and blurted, “That’s a weird question!” Um, ok. But can you answer it anyway? I remain confident that what I’m curious about others are too. She answered in good faith, trusting that I have her back. I am honored by that trust. You readers should be also. When people talk honestly they make themselves vulnerable. They don’t want to be misconstrued as they describe emotions and realizations that can’t be summarized by facts alone. This is especially true of CMW’s staff, who are talking about their life’s work.

It’s why I take the final step of the oral history process so seriously: converting 8-20 pages of interview transcript to a narrative that honors the speaker’s intentions, captures history while it’s still occurring, and compels readers. It’s a messy process. No matter how cleverly I order the questions and pursue answers during an interview, the talk meanders, as talk will. Even the most prepared and polished speakers wander off topic and speak colloquially, thank goodness. They are thinking out loud, which is where the music happens. It’s the difference between watching an official read a prepared statement from behind a podium and hearing him speak spontaneously from the heart when a reporter surprises him off-stage by asking exactly the right question at the right moment. I’m going for the latter.

Some “20 Years, 20 Stories” subjects have been flummoxed by the difference between the hour-plus interview they remember and the 2-5 page story I produce, having edited and condensed our conversation to a fare-thee-well, absenting my questions along the way. (Available here, if you’re curious.) They worry about being misperceived and about sounding too casual. They worry that they have said too much or too little. It is scary to see your constantly morphing thoughts marching in regimental black lines across white space. Where are the raised eyebrows signaling sincerity or the smile signaling warmth? Where are the tears that welled up when recalling a triumphant moment with a challenging student? Where’s a second or third chance to rephrase? To be more thoughtful? To explain more fully?

Oral history and chamber music have much in common. Both art forms strive to capture human experience through artifice and collaborative effort, and both are very much of the moment. Therein lies the thrill. Having made the artistic decision to omit interview questions in favor of narrative flow, I don’t worry that readers need cue cards. I trust that readers will appreciate what I appreciate about oral history: the idiosyncratic quirks of everyday speech as thoughtful people talk about things that matter. Subjects can trust their beautiful, one-of-a-kind voices to tell the story. The rest of us can pick up the extension and listen in.

The 20 Years, 20 Stories homepage.

Archives

CMW Celebrates 20 with Twenty Years, Twenty Stories

cmw20_header

 

 

 

This year Community MusicWorks turns 20! To mark the milestone, we are gathering the stories of 20 members of our community–musicians, students, parents, graduates and supporters. Look for new stories throughout the season.

Interviews were recorded, transcribed and edited to create personal narratives in each subject’s distinctive voice. We hope 20 Years, 20 Stories captures the many flavors and varieties of CMW experience. Join us at a concert anytime to start creating your own CMW story.

Read the interviews here.

 

community-day-cake

 

An Evening with Johnny Gandelsman in a Concert to Benefit CMW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community MusicWorks invites you to an evening with world-renowned violinist Johnny Gandelsman in a solo concert to benefit CMW.

Join us Thursday, November 9 at 7pm as Johnny Gandelsman of Silk Road and Brooklyn Rider performs the Six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin by J.S. Bach.  All proceeds of this concert will support the free music education programs at Community MusicWorks.

To hear Johnny Gandelsman play solo Bach is to hear someone with an impeccable technique and mastery of the instrument who has re-imagined these works and the gestures required to play them. Having grown up in Russia and Israel, and later studying at the Curtis Institute of Music, Johnny’s training readied him for a major international solo career. Instead, Johnny’s individual voice has led him to absorb styles of violin playing from historical recordings, Irish fiddlers, banjo virtuosos, Persian musicians and more, and he has incorporated all these elements into his sensibilities as a violinist, basically inventing his own style of violin playing.

The Six Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin are some of the deepest, most spiritually rich music for the violin (or for any instrument). They are part of every violinist’s journey throughout a lifetime–from learning the simpler movements in student years to tackling the signature epic movements at later stages, including the fugues, the Chaconne, and others. Few violinists record the entire set of six Sonatas and Partitas and fewer still perform them all at once. Johnny has done both, and will perform them as a benefit for CMW.

This is an event not to be missed!

Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 7pm
First Unitarian Church
1 Benevolent Street, Providence
$30 General Seating
$100 Preferred Seating with a pre-concert reception at 6pm
Purchase tickets here

 

 

 

October 19-21: Sonata Series and Ars Subtilior Festival features André Cormier

 

 

 

 

 

 


Composer André Cormier

Join us for a weekend focused on Composer-in-Residence André Cormier as part of the Sonata Series and the Ars Subtilior Festival. Beginning on Thursday, the Sonata Series Event at RISD will feature a performance of Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven, and events on Friday evening and an all-day event on Saturday will feature works by Cormier performed by the composer himself, special guests, the MusicWorks Collective and CMW students.

Strangely Beautiful and Slightly Twisted:
A Note from Ars Subtilior curator and CMW Resident Musician Laura Cetilia

An unprecedented event is upon us. On October 17, Acadian composer André Cormier will be arriving in Providence as composer-in-residence for the 2017 Ars Subtilior Festival at Community MusicWorks. For five days, CMW and its surroundings will be inundated with strangely beautiful and slightly twisted music from the Maritimes.

In the past, Ars Subtilior events were reserved for understated, small chamber music concerts that involved only a handful of CMW musicians with an occasional appearance by our Phase II students. This season, no holds barred.

Almost every person involved with CMW – from our Development Director to our youngest Daily Orchestra Program student – plus numerous guest performers coming all the way from California, Montreal and New York, will be included in this onslaught of experimental music.

The festival begins the day André arrives with a workshop/performance during All-Play at Calvary Baptist Church. Students of my SoundLab class will perform selections from the simple, but fruitful graphic score “Un ensemble d’actions possibles,” creating sounds on mini modular synthesizers that we’ve worked on in class in conjunction with some good old string playing. That day will also feature “25 Bars for Four Dollars” performed by Sarah Kim, Piero Guimaraes, Zan Berry, and myself on pennies.

That’s right, you heard me: pennies.

On Wednesday, Andre will visit with students of the Daily Orchestra Program, who will also be experimenting with pennies and playing through “Un ensemble d’actions possibles” while he offers composerly pointers.

On Thursday, Cormier’s “Scattershot Beethoven,” performed by Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth, and “Marie-Pierre,” performed by Andrei Baumann can be heard at the Sonata Series at RISD Museum. There will be a pre-concert reception: come by and meet André and the performers before the start of the program!

Friday will feature three different configurations of André’s chamber music: his take on a string quartet “Plaie Mortelle” (Mortal Wound), his Candle Quartet featuring our administrative staff (Katie, Kelly, Liz) and newly appointed DOP string teacher, Tessa Sacramone, all lighting and blowing out candles over the course of an hour. “Fleurs d’équinoxe,” a light and sparse circular score, will include the talents of alumnus Andrew Oung, formally local composer/performer JPA Falzone , our own Piero Guimaraes, along with members of the MusicWorks Collective.

Saturday, the final day of the festival, culminates in an extravaganza at RISD museum featuring 3 out of 10 volumes of works André composed based on the epic poem “Conversations” by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson. These are by far the lushest of Andre’s works and should not be missed. Guest artists Teodora Stepancic (pianist from New York), Andrea Young (soprano from Montreal) and Robin Streb (violist from Moncton) along with myself, will be bringing these works to life. That day will also include a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by Phase 2 students, trilling on their instruments like flying insects throughout the galleries. And finally, his string octet “Microbes” with quietly pulsating pizzicatos and meandering glissandi, played by the illustrious MusicWorks Collective.

Come. You’ll never hear anything like this ever again.

–Laura Cetilia

Festival Schedule:

Thursday, October 19 at 7pm
RISD Museum Grand Gallery
For this first event of the Sonata Series, Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth perform Andre Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven and cellist Adrienne Taylor performs Beethoven with guest pianist Andrei Baumann.
RISD Museum, Grand Gallery 
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert and Museum Admission is free

Friday, October 20 at 8pm
Sutton Space Gallery
Community MusicWorks musicians and staff perform Cormier’s Candle Quartet, Fleurs d’équinoxe, and Plaie Mortelle.
159 Sutton Street, Providence
Suggested donation $20

Saturday, October 21 11am-5pm
RISD Museum-various galleries
Saturday’s day-long event features several performances: works based on the epic poem Conversations by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson (with guest soprano Andrea Young), a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by CMW Phase II students and Microbes performed by the MusicWorks Collective.
RISD Museum
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert is free with Museum admission

Saturday’s Schedule:
11am-Noon
Conversations 1 in the Grand Gallery
Noon-1pm
Microbes in the Grand Gallery
1pm-2pm
Conversations 3 in the Grand Gallery
2pm-3pm
Libellules in Various Galleries
3pm-4pm
Conversations 5 in the Grand Gallery

 

 

 

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

This year, Community MusicWorks launches its third decade, and as we step into the next chapter of this organization’s growth our work is urgent in new ways. Twenty years ago the idea of a string quartet in a permanent residency in an urban neighborhood was a fringe idea in classical music. The notion that an urban residency would be the core of a chamber group’s life and work and that community development would be an equal ambition to playing and teaching was new territory.

Now, two decades in, conservatories are graduating students with entrepreneurship training, many with a social change focus; musicians are seeking alternate venues to the traditional concert halls, and increasingly orchestras and concert series are investing in their communities. All this points to a movement that is robust, respected, and ever growing: musicians experimenting with new forms, new career paths, and new inquiries into the place of musicianship in contemporary life.

CMW in our third decade has a new task to help grow this generation of students and musicians. With the launch of our MusicWorks Network and Fellowship, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we lead a new conversation across the country into the connections between social justice and musical practice, and share ways in which young people’s participation in programs like CMW can support their paths to and through college. We are thrilled to be bringing together former participants from both the CMW Fellowship Program and Institutes for Musicianship and Public Service, now leading programs of their own in more than 15 cities across the country and in Canada, to grow and learn together.

In our concert series, Season 21 offers adventurous programming. You’ll notice that most programs feature one or more female composers’ works, an intentional effort to align our concert programming with our commitment to equity and social justice. From the season opener to the June finale, you’ll be invited into new sonic experiences—the driving intensity of Julia Wolfe’s “Cruel Sister,” a new work by Annika Socolofsky, a festival celebrating André Cormier’s quiet masterpieces, and the premiere of a work by Rhode Island composer Forrest Larson. There are many opportunities for new sounds and experiences!

Our tradition of Bach in November continues, including the fifth year of the overnight Bach marathon. This season also features a special benefit performance by Johnny Gandelsman (of Brooklyn Rider and the Silk Road Project) of all the Bach solo works for violin—a spiritual and physical feat rarely undertaken, even by violinists of the greatest stamina.

Our December Solstice Concert returns—back by popular demand! The storytelling and musical adventure takes us again from foxes and crows to the wind and a chickadee, whose song reminds us that music can bring light and hope—a wonderful allegorical tale that reflects CMW’s mission.

One final thought to carry with you as you help launch this third decade—our work is about each person’s continual development, or what Maxine Greene would call “being on the way.” From our students to our musician-teachers, to audience members and supporters, CMW’s mission focuses on encouraging all of us to be continually on our way—toward growth, deeper awareness, and indeed transformative experiences of beauty and community.

Let’s step together into the work of this third decade!

-Sebastian Ruth, Founder & Artistic Director

Check our Season 21 calendar here.

MusicWorks Network: A New Initiative

Within the past twenty-one years, CMW has offered professional musicians opportunities to re-imagine the very foundations of a classical music career, and to think more broadly about music as a way of engaging in and with communities.

This year, CMW has the opportunity to deepen that work with the support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a new initiative, Citizens of the World: Forging Pathways to College and Beyond. This strategic initiative is designed to substantially increase the number of racially diverse, low-income young people who gain access to critical skills that promote success. This work builds on CMW’s 20-year history of developing music-based education programs designed to open new worlds of opportunity to low-income African-American and Latino youth. Out of this work has come Phase II, an approach to developing fundamental skills and supports that promote college-going, that has led 95% of CMW graduates to continue to college.

CMW will share CMW’s successful college-going model across a network of community-based music education sites. Called the MusicWorks Network, this project will link 10-15 community-based music sites serving over 650 young people and convene them in an annual Summer Institute for training, resource-sharing, and collaborative evaluation.

The first Summer Institute took place this past August 22-30 as educators and staff from ten different organizations gathered at the beautiful Rolling Ridge Conference Center in North Andover, MA. Connecting around the ways that social justice practices and technical and artistic work on string instruments can support one another, teachers and staff came from Community MusicWorks, MusiConnects (Boston, MA), MyCincinnati (Cincinnati, OH), Musica Franklin (Franklin, MA), Orchestra of St. Luke’s (New York, New York), MusicHaven (New Haven, CT), Newport Strings (Newport, RI), Sistema New Brunswick (New Brunswick, St. John, Canada), Strong Harbor Strings (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada), and Neighborhood Strings (Worcester, MA).

Participants convened for a range of workshops and trainings, including a 2-day string pedagogy workshop with renowned violinist and teacher Mimi Zweig, a poetry and social justice workshop with poet Jonathan Mendoza, a workshop on anti-racist organizational frameworks with trainer and activist Adeola Oredola, and discussions and reflection around the creative synergy between string pedagogy and social justice teachings.

The Institute was designed and facilitated by Sebastian Ruth and Chloe Kline with the new MusicWorks Network staff: MusicWorks Network Director Jori Ketten and MusicWorks Network Fellow Andrew Oung. Part of the initiative, the MusicWorks Network Fellowship is a one-year position for alumni of CMW’s youth program or graduates of CMW’s two-year Fellowship Program to contribute to the MusicWorks Network. Andrew is our first alumni hire at CMW.

 

Revolution of Values

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise.

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:
[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!
–Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director

Revolution of Values: A Day of Creative Action

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise. 

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:

[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!

-Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director 

Art in a Time of Rage

As CMW musicians have been working over the past several weeks to articulate our response as artists and citizens to the many events of the new administration, our discussions have toggled between the actions we need to take raising our voices as engaged citizens and making music.

New Yorker music critic Alex Ross, who once profiled CMW, takes on this question in his post about how musicians make music in a time of rage. Ross quotes Lucy Caplan*, whose essay about CMW’s 2016 Art and Social Action symposium is The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts.

*A fun fact: Lucy worked with CMW’s Sebastian Ruth as a student in his Yale class, and then as a TA in his Music and Social Action Coursera class. Read more about Lucy here and here.

 

Links:
Alex Ross: Making Art in a Time of Rage
Alex Ross: Learning the Score (CMW Profile in the New Yorker)
Lucy Caplan: The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts
Sebastian Ruth: Music and Social Action (Coursera)

 

 

 

Talking and Listening: Behind the Scenes of 20 Years, 20 Stories

 

 

 

 

 

Linda Daniels is a writer, editor, cellist, CMW parent, former CMW Board member and expert eavesdropper. She helms the 20 Years, 20 Stories project and this is her story.

I’ve been an eavesdropper since childhood. My mother liked to pour herself a Royal Crown cola in the late afternoon, park herself on the couch and telephone her mother, which was my cue to c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y raise the extension handset upstairs. Usually, they discussed mundane matters:  pork chops versus chicken, how this season’s fashions were so unflattering and, now and then, family gossip. The topics were almost beside the point, except for the family gossip, which is why I eavesdropped in the first place. But I was also intrigued by the mysterious current of poetry running beneath even the most routine remarks. I loved the give and take of conversation, the sighs and pauses, the sound of my mother’s sympathetic tsk-tsk’s and my grandmother’s pretty brogue. I almost always got busted and was scolded, but not seriously enough to deter me from future attempts. Talking was as close as my family got to making music. No one sang or played an instrument, and my relatives just embarrassed themselves trying to clap along to music, but man, could these people talk. Listeners, even illicit ones, had a role to play, too. We completed the performance circle.

In college, Studs Terkel’s oral history Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do shaped my senior year thesis. I made the leap from habitual eavesdropper to scholarly interviewer and collected the oral histories of women who came of age during the 1920s. The best parts of the resulting 200-plus-page door-stopper were their reminiscences. After college, I became a reporter: more listening, more writing. Even after I quit newspapers and turned to other pursuits, I never lost the eavesdropping habit. My husband recognizes the faraway look that crosses my face when we’re in a public space and I hear something that bears further investigation, convinced, of course, that no one can tell what I’m up to. After 27 years, he also knows that whatever he and I were talking about will have to wait. More recently, I’ve been inspired by writer Svetlana Alexievich, who won a Nobel for Secondhand Time, her beautifully rendered oral history of post-Soviet Russians.

In September, I began an exciting new listening and writing project in connection with Community MusicWorks’ 20th anniversary: collecting 20 representative stories of CMW musicians, staff, students, parents and supporters. I’ve been expertly assisted by CMW fellow Josie Davis, who interviewed three people, and Communications Manager Liz Cox, who proofreads the stories and designs the online content. (Read the stories here.)

It hasn’t been difficult to get people to open up. I’ve been a familiar face at CMW since my youngest had his first cello lesson here ten years ago. I’ve exchanged knowing glances with other parents when a beginner nails “Twinkle” and held a collective breath during the dying notes of a Beethoven quartet performed by the pros. I’ve square-danced to fiddle tunes and attempted, much less successfully, the salsa.  I’ve sung rounds and set up folding chairs; fretted over budgets and strategic goals; eased my car past side-view mirrors on snow-bound Messer Street; knitted for newborns; and eaten far too much pizza.

Since people know me better as an at-large mom than as an interviewer and writer, some of my questions may discomfit. Recently, a student I was interviewing put up a hand and blurted, “That’s a weird question!” Um, ok. But can you answer it anyway? I remain confident that what I’m curious about others are too. She answered in good faith, trusting that I have her back. I am honored by that trust. You readers should be also. When people talk honestly they make themselves vulnerable. They don’t want to be misconstrued as they describe emotions and realizations that can’t be summarized by facts alone. This is especially true of CMW’s staff, who are talking about their life’s work.

It’s why I take the final step of the oral history process so seriously: converting 8-20 pages of interview transcript to a narrative that honors the speaker’s intentions, captures history while it’s still occurring, and compels readers. It’s a messy process. No matter how cleverly I order the questions and pursue answers during an interview, the talk meanders, as talk will. Even the most prepared and polished speakers wander off topic and speak colloquially, thank goodness. They are thinking out loud, which is where the music happens. It’s the difference between watching an official read a prepared statement from behind a podium and hearing him speak spontaneously from the heart when a reporter surprises him off-stage by asking exactly the right question at the right moment. I’m going for the latter.

Some “20 Years, 20 Stories” subjects have been flummoxed by the difference between the hour-plus interview they remember and the 2-5 page story I produce, having edited and condensed our conversation to a fare-thee-well, absenting my questions along the way. (Available here, if you’re curious.) They worry about being misperceived and about sounding too casual. They worry that they have said too much or too little. It is scary to see your constantly morphing thoughts marching in regimental black lines across white space. Where are the raised eyebrows signaling sincerity or the smile signaling warmth? Where are the tears that welled up when recalling a triumphant moment with a challenging student? Where’s a second or third chance to rephrase? To be more thoughtful? To explain more fully?

Oral history and chamber music have much in common. Both art forms strive to capture human experience through artifice and collaborative effort, and both are very much of the moment. Therein lies the thrill. Having made the artistic decision to omit interview questions in favor of narrative flow, I don’t worry that readers need cue cards. I trust that readers will appreciate what I appreciate about oral history: the idiosyncratic quirks of everyday speech as thoughtful people talk about things that matter. Subjects can trust their beautiful, one-of-a-kind voices to tell the story. The rest of us can pick up the extension and listen in.

The 20 Years, 20 Stories homepage.

Archives

CMW Celebrates 20 with Twenty Years, Twenty Stories

cmw20_header

 

 

 

This year Community MusicWorks turns 20! To mark the milestone, we are gathering the stories of 20 members of our community–musicians, students, parents, graduates and supporters. Look for new stories throughout the season.

Interviews were recorded, transcribed and edited to create personal narratives in each subject’s distinctive voice. We hope 20 Years, 20 Stories captures the many flavors and varieties of CMW experience. Join us at a concert anytime to start creating your own CMW story.

Read the interviews here.

 

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An Evening with Johnny Gandelsman in a Concert to Benefit CMW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community MusicWorks invites you to an evening with world-renowned violinist Johnny Gandelsman in a solo concert to benefit CMW.

Join us Thursday, November 9 at 7pm as Johnny Gandelsman of Silk Road and Brooklyn Rider performs the Six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin by J.S. Bach.  All proceeds of this concert will support the free music education programs at Community MusicWorks.

To hear Johnny Gandelsman play solo Bach is to hear someone with an impeccable technique and mastery of the instrument who has re-imagined these works and the gestures required to play them. Having grown up in Russia and Israel, and later studying at the Curtis Institute of Music, Johnny’s training readied him for a major international solo career. Instead, Johnny’s individual voice has led him to absorb styles of violin playing from historical recordings, Irish fiddlers, banjo virtuosos, Persian musicians and more, and he has incorporated all these elements into his sensibilities as a violinist, basically inventing his own style of violin playing.

The Six Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin are some of the deepest, most spiritually rich music for the violin (or for any instrument). They are part of every violinist’s journey throughout a lifetime–from learning the simpler movements in student years to tackling the signature epic movements at later stages, including the fugues, the Chaconne, and others. Few violinists record the entire set of six Sonatas and Partitas and fewer still perform them all at once. Johnny has done both, and will perform them as a benefit for CMW.

This is an event not to be missed!

Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 7pm
First Unitarian Church
1 Benevolent Street, Providence
$30 General Seating
$100 Preferred Seating with a pre-concert reception at 6pm
Purchase tickets here

 

 

 

October 19-21: Sonata Series and Ars Subtilior Festival features André Cormier

 

 

 

 

 

 


Composer André Cormier

Join us for a weekend focused on Composer-in-Residence André Cormier as part of the Sonata Series and the Ars Subtilior Festival. Beginning on Thursday, the Sonata Series Event at RISD will feature a performance of Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven, and events on Friday evening and an all-day event on Saturday will feature works by Cormier performed by the composer himself, special guests, the MusicWorks Collective and CMW students.

Strangely Beautiful and Slightly Twisted:
A Note from Ars Subtilior curator and CMW Resident Musician Laura Cetilia

An unprecedented event is upon us. On October 17, Acadian composer André Cormier will be arriving in Providence as composer-in-residence for the 2017 Ars Subtilior Festival at Community MusicWorks. For five days, CMW and its surroundings will be inundated with strangely beautiful and slightly twisted music from the Maritimes.

In the past, Ars Subtilior events were reserved for understated, small chamber music concerts that involved only a handful of CMW musicians with an occasional appearance by our Phase II students. This season, no holds barred.

Almost every person involved with CMW – from our Development Director to our youngest Daily Orchestra Program student – plus numerous guest performers coming all the way from California, Montreal and New York, will be included in this onslaught of experimental music.

The festival begins the day André arrives with a workshop/performance during All-Play at Calvary Baptist Church. Students of my SoundLab class will perform selections from the simple, but fruitful graphic score “Un ensemble d’actions possibles,” creating sounds on mini modular synthesizers that we’ve worked on in class in conjunction with some good old string playing. That day will also feature “25 Bars for Four Dollars” performed by Sarah Kim, Piero Guimaraes, Zan Berry, and myself on pennies.

That’s right, you heard me: pennies.

On Wednesday, Andre will visit with students of the Daily Orchestra Program, who will also be experimenting with pennies and playing through “Un ensemble d’actions possibles” while he offers composerly pointers.

On Thursday, Cormier’s “Scattershot Beethoven,” performed by Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth, and “Marie-Pierre,” performed by Andrei Baumann can be heard at the Sonata Series at RISD Museum. There will be a pre-concert reception: come by and meet André and the performers before the start of the program!

Friday will feature three different configurations of André’s chamber music: his take on a string quartet “Plaie Mortelle” (Mortal Wound), his Candle Quartet featuring our administrative staff (Katie, Kelly, Liz) and newly appointed DOP string teacher, Tessa Sacramone, all lighting and blowing out candles over the course of an hour. “Fleurs d’équinoxe,” a light and sparse circular score, will include the talents of alumnus Andrew Oung, formally local composer/performer JPA Falzone , our own Piero Guimaraes, along with members of the MusicWorks Collective.

Saturday, the final day of the festival, culminates in an extravaganza at RISD museum featuring 3 out of 10 volumes of works André composed based on the epic poem “Conversations” by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson. These are by far the lushest of Andre’s works and should not be missed. Guest artists Teodora Stepancic (pianist from New York), Andrea Young (soprano from Montreal) and Robin Streb (violist from Moncton) along with myself, will be bringing these works to life. That day will also include a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by Phase 2 students, trilling on their instruments like flying insects throughout the galleries. And finally, his string octet “Microbes” with quietly pulsating pizzicatos and meandering glissandi, played by the illustrious MusicWorks Collective.

Come. You’ll never hear anything like this ever again.

–Laura Cetilia

Festival Schedule:

Thursday, October 19 at 7pm
RISD Museum Grand Gallery
For this first event of the Sonata Series, Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth perform Andre Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven and cellist Adrienne Taylor performs Beethoven with guest pianist Andrei Baumann.
RISD Museum, Grand Gallery 
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert and Museum Admission is free

Friday, October 20 at 8pm
Sutton Space Gallery
Community MusicWorks musicians and staff perform Cormier’s Candle Quartet, Fleurs d’équinoxe, and Plaie Mortelle.
159 Sutton Street, Providence
Suggested donation $20

Saturday, October 21 11am-5pm
RISD Museum-various galleries
Saturday’s day-long event features several performances: works based on the epic poem Conversations by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson (with guest soprano Andrea Young), a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by CMW Phase II students and Microbes performed by the MusicWorks Collective.
RISD Museum
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert is free with Museum admission

Saturday’s Schedule:
11am-Noon
Conversations 1 in the Grand Gallery
Noon-1pm
Microbes in the Grand Gallery
1pm-2pm
Conversations 3 in the Grand Gallery
2pm-3pm
Libellules in Various Galleries
3pm-4pm
Conversations 5 in the Grand Gallery

 

 

 

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

This year, Community MusicWorks launches its third decade, and as we step into the next chapter of this organization’s growth our work is urgent in new ways. Twenty years ago the idea of a string quartet in a permanent residency in an urban neighborhood was a fringe idea in classical music. The notion that an urban residency would be the core of a chamber group’s life and work and that community development would be an equal ambition to playing and teaching was new territory.

Now, two decades in, conservatories are graduating students with entrepreneurship training, many with a social change focus; musicians are seeking alternate venues to the traditional concert halls, and increasingly orchestras and concert series are investing in their communities. All this points to a movement that is robust, respected, and ever growing: musicians experimenting with new forms, new career paths, and new inquiries into the place of musicianship in contemporary life.

CMW in our third decade has a new task to help grow this generation of students and musicians. With the launch of our MusicWorks Network and Fellowship, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we lead a new conversation across the country into the connections between social justice and musical practice, and share ways in which young people’s participation in programs like CMW can support their paths to and through college. We are thrilled to be bringing together former participants from both the CMW Fellowship Program and Institutes for Musicianship and Public Service, now leading programs of their own in more than 15 cities across the country and in Canada, to grow and learn together.

In our concert series, Season 21 offers adventurous programming. You’ll notice that most programs feature one or more female composers’ works, an intentional effort to align our concert programming with our commitment to equity and social justice. From the season opener to the June finale, you’ll be invited into new sonic experiences—the driving intensity of Julia Wolfe’s “Cruel Sister,” a new work by Annika Socolofsky, a festival celebrating André Cormier’s quiet masterpieces, and the premiere of a work by Rhode Island composer Forrest Larson. There are many opportunities for new sounds and experiences!

Our tradition of Bach in November continues, including the fifth year of the overnight Bach marathon. This season also features a special benefit performance by Johnny Gandelsman (of Brooklyn Rider and the Silk Road Project) of all the Bach solo works for violin—a spiritual and physical feat rarely undertaken, even by violinists of the greatest stamina.

Our December Solstice Concert returns—back by popular demand! The storytelling and musical adventure takes us again from foxes and crows to the wind and a chickadee, whose song reminds us that music can bring light and hope—a wonderful allegorical tale that reflects CMW’s mission.

One final thought to carry with you as you help launch this third decade—our work is about each person’s continual development, or what Maxine Greene would call “being on the way.” From our students to our musician-teachers, to audience members and supporters, CMW’s mission focuses on encouraging all of us to be continually on our way—toward growth, deeper awareness, and indeed transformative experiences of beauty and community.

Let’s step together into the work of this third decade!

-Sebastian Ruth, Founder & Artistic Director

Check our Season 21 calendar here.

MusicWorks Network: A New Initiative

Within the past twenty-one years, CMW has offered professional musicians opportunities to re-imagine the very foundations of a classical music career, and to think more broadly about music as a way of engaging in and with communities.

This year, CMW has the opportunity to deepen that work with the support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a new initiative, Citizens of the World: Forging Pathways to College and Beyond. This strategic initiative is designed to substantially increase the number of racially diverse, low-income young people who gain access to critical skills that promote success. This work builds on CMW’s 20-year history of developing music-based education programs designed to open new worlds of opportunity to low-income African-American and Latino youth. Out of this work has come Phase II, an approach to developing fundamental skills and supports that promote college-going, that has led 95% of CMW graduates to continue to college.

CMW will share CMW’s successful college-going model across a network of community-based music education sites. Called the MusicWorks Network, this project will link 10-15 community-based music sites serving over 650 young people and convene them in an annual Summer Institute for training, resource-sharing, and collaborative evaluation.

The first Summer Institute took place this past August 22-30 as educators and staff from ten different organizations gathered at the beautiful Rolling Ridge Conference Center in North Andover, MA. Connecting around the ways that social justice practices and technical and artistic work on string instruments can support one another, teachers and staff came from Community MusicWorks, MusiConnects (Boston, MA), MyCincinnati (Cincinnati, OH), Musica Franklin (Franklin, MA), Orchestra of St. Luke’s (New York, New York), MusicHaven (New Haven, CT), Newport Strings (Newport, RI), Sistema New Brunswick (New Brunswick, St. John, Canada), Strong Harbor Strings (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada), and Neighborhood Strings (Worcester, MA).

Participants convened for a range of workshops and trainings, including a 2-day string pedagogy workshop with renowned violinist and teacher Mimi Zweig, a poetry and social justice workshop with poet Jonathan Mendoza, a workshop on anti-racist organizational frameworks with trainer and activist Adeola Oredola, and discussions and reflection around the creative synergy between string pedagogy and social justice teachings.

The Institute was designed and facilitated by Sebastian Ruth and Chloe Kline with the new MusicWorks Network staff: MusicWorks Network Director Jori Ketten and MusicWorks Network Fellow Andrew Oung. Part of the initiative, the MusicWorks Network Fellowship is a one-year position for alumni of CMW’s youth program or graduates of CMW’s two-year Fellowship Program to contribute to the MusicWorks Network. Andrew is our first alumni hire at CMW.

 

Revolution of Values

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise.

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:
[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!
–Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director

Revolution of Values: A Day of Creative Action

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise. 

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:

[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!

-Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director 

Art in a Time of Rage

As CMW musicians have been working over the past several weeks to articulate our response as artists and citizens to the many events of the new administration, our discussions have toggled between the actions we need to take raising our voices as engaged citizens and making music.

New Yorker music critic Alex Ross, who once profiled CMW, takes on this question in his post about how musicians make music in a time of rage. Ross quotes Lucy Caplan*, whose essay about CMW’s 2016 Art and Social Action symposium is The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts.

*A fun fact: Lucy worked with CMW’s Sebastian Ruth as a student in his Yale class, and then as a TA in his Music and Social Action Coursera class. Read more about Lucy here and here.

 

Links:
Alex Ross: Making Art in a Time of Rage
Alex Ross: Learning the Score (CMW Profile in the New Yorker)
Lucy Caplan: The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts
Sebastian Ruth: Music and Social Action (Coursera)

 

 

 

Talking and Listening: Behind the Scenes of 20 Years, 20 Stories

 

 

 

 

 

Linda Daniels is a writer, editor, cellist, CMW parent, former CMW Board member and expert eavesdropper. She helms the 20 Years, 20 Stories project and this is her story.

I’ve been an eavesdropper since childhood. My mother liked to pour herself a Royal Crown cola in the late afternoon, park herself on the couch and telephone her mother, which was my cue to c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y raise the extension handset upstairs. Usually, they discussed mundane matters:  pork chops versus chicken, how this season’s fashions were so unflattering and, now and then, family gossip. The topics were almost beside the point, except for the family gossip, which is why I eavesdropped in the first place. But I was also intrigued by the mysterious current of poetry running beneath even the most routine remarks. I loved the give and take of conversation, the sighs and pauses, the sound of my mother’s sympathetic tsk-tsk’s and my grandmother’s pretty brogue. I almost always got busted and was scolded, but not seriously enough to deter me from future attempts. Talking was as close as my family got to making music. No one sang or played an instrument, and my relatives just embarrassed themselves trying to clap along to music, but man, could these people talk. Listeners, even illicit ones, had a role to play, too. We completed the performance circle.

In college, Studs Terkel’s oral history Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do shaped my senior year thesis. I made the leap from habitual eavesdropper to scholarly interviewer and collected the oral histories of women who came of age during the 1920s. The best parts of the resulting 200-plus-page door-stopper were their reminiscences. After college, I became a reporter: more listening, more writing. Even after I quit newspapers and turned to other pursuits, I never lost the eavesdropping habit. My husband recognizes the faraway look that crosses my face when we’re in a public space and I hear something that bears further investigation, convinced, of course, that no one can tell what I’m up to. After 27 years, he also knows that whatever he and I were talking about will have to wait. More recently, I’ve been inspired by writer Svetlana Alexievich, who won a Nobel for Secondhand Time, her beautifully rendered oral history of post-Soviet Russians.

In September, I began an exciting new listening and writing project in connection with Community MusicWorks’ 20th anniversary: collecting 20 representative stories of CMW musicians, staff, students, parents and supporters. I’ve been expertly assisted by CMW fellow Josie Davis, who interviewed three people, and Communications Manager Liz Cox, who proofreads the stories and designs the online content. (Read the stories here.)

It hasn’t been difficult to get people to open up. I’ve been a familiar face at CMW since my youngest had his first cello lesson here ten years ago. I’ve exchanged knowing glances with other parents when a beginner nails “Twinkle” and held a collective breath during the dying notes of a Beethoven quartet performed by the pros. I’ve square-danced to fiddle tunes and attempted, much less successfully, the salsa.  I’ve sung rounds and set up folding chairs; fretted over budgets and strategic goals; eased my car past side-view mirrors on snow-bound Messer Street; knitted for newborns; and eaten far too much pizza.

Since people know me better as an at-large mom than as an interviewer and writer, some of my questions may discomfit. Recently, a student I was interviewing put up a hand and blurted, “That’s a weird question!” Um, ok. But can you answer it anyway? I remain confident that what I’m curious about others are too. She answered in good faith, trusting that I have her back. I am honored by that trust. You readers should be also. When people talk honestly they make themselves vulnerable. They don’t want to be misconstrued as they describe emotions and realizations that can’t be summarized by facts alone. This is especially true of CMW’s staff, who are talking about their life’s work.

It’s why I take the final step of the oral history process so seriously: converting 8-20 pages of interview transcript to a narrative that honors the speaker’s intentions, captures history while it’s still occurring, and compels readers. It’s a messy process. No matter how cleverly I order the questions and pursue answers during an interview, the talk meanders, as talk will. Even the most prepared and polished speakers wander off topic and speak colloquially, thank goodness. They are thinking out loud, which is where the music happens. It’s the difference between watching an official read a prepared statement from behind a podium and hearing him speak spontaneously from the heart when a reporter surprises him off-stage by asking exactly the right question at the right moment. I’m going for the latter.

Some “20 Years, 20 Stories” subjects have been flummoxed by the difference between the hour-plus interview they remember and the 2-5 page story I produce, having edited and condensed our conversation to a fare-thee-well, absenting my questions along the way. (Available here, if you’re curious.) They worry about being misperceived and about sounding too casual. They worry that they have said too much or too little. It is scary to see your constantly morphing thoughts marching in regimental black lines across white space. Where are the raised eyebrows signaling sincerity or the smile signaling warmth? Where are the tears that welled up when recalling a triumphant moment with a challenging student? Where’s a second or third chance to rephrase? To be more thoughtful? To explain more fully?

Oral history and chamber music have much in common. Both art forms strive to capture human experience through artifice and collaborative effort, and both are very much of the moment. Therein lies the thrill. Having made the artistic decision to omit interview questions in favor of narrative flow, I don’t worry that readers need cue cards. I trust that readers will appreciate what I appreciate about oral history: the idiosyncratic quirks of everyday speech as thoughtful people talk about things that matter. Subjects can trust their beautiful, one-of-a-kind voices to tell the story. The rest of us can pick up the extension and listen in.

The 20 Years, 20 Stories homepage.

Archives

CMW Celebrates 20 with Twenty Years, Twenty Stories

cmw20_header

 

 

 

This year Community MusicWorks turns 20! To mark the milestone, we are gathering the stories of 20 members of our community–musicians, students, parents, graduates and supporters. Look for new stories throughout the season.

Interviews were recorded, transcribed and edited to create personal narratives in each subject’s distinctive voice. We hope 20 Years, 20 Stories captures the many flavors and varieties of CMW experience. Join us at a concert anytime to start creating your own CMW story.

Read the interviews here.

 

community-day-cake

 

An Evening with Johnny Gandelsman in a Concert to Benefit CMW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community MusicWorks invites you to an evening with world-renowned violinist Johnny Gandelsman in a solo concert to benefit CMW.

Join us Thursday, November 9 at 7pm as Johnny Gandelsman of Silk Road and Brooklyn Rider performs the Six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin by J.S. Bach.  All proceeds of this concert will support the free music education programs at Community MusicWorks.

To hear Johnny Gandelsman play solo Bach is to hear someone with an impeccable technique and mastery of the instrument who has re-imagined these works and the gestures required to play them. Having grown up in Russia and Israel, and later studying at the Curtis Institute of Music, Johnny’s training readied him for a major international solo career. Instead, Johnny’s individual voice has led him to absorb styles of violin playing from historical recordings, Irish fiddlers, banjo virtuosos, Persian musicians and more, and he has incorporated all these elements into his sensibilities as a violinist, basically inventing his own style of violin playing.

The Six Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin are some of the deepest, most spiritually rich music for the violin (or for any instrument). They are part of every violinist’s journey throughout a lifetime–from learning the simpler movements in student years to tackling the signature epic movements at later stages, including the fugues, the Chaconne, and others. Few violinists record the entire set of six Sonatas and Partitas and fewer still perform them all at once. Johnny has done both, and will perform them as a benefit for CMW.

This is an event not to be missed!

Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 7pm
First Unitarian Church
1 Benevolent Street, Providence
$30 General Seating
$100 Preferred Seating with a pre-concert reception at 6pm
Purchase tickets here

 

 

 

October 19-21: Sonata Series and Ars Subtilior Festival features André Cormier

 

 

 

 

 

 


Composer André Cormier

Join us for a weekend focused on Composer-in-Residence André Cormier as part of the Sonata Series and the Ars Subtilior Festival. Beginning on Thursday, the Sonata Series Event at RISD will feature a performance of Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven, and events on Friday evening and an all-day event on Saturday will feature works by Cormier performed by the composer himself, special guests, the MusicWorks Collective and CMW students.

Strangely Beautiful and Slightly Twisted:
A Note from Ars Subtilior curator and CMW Resident Musician Laura Cetilia

An unprecedented event is upon us. On October 17, Acadian composer André Cormier will be arriving in Providence as composer-in-residence for the 2017 Ars Subtilior Festival at Community MusicWorks. For five days, CMW and its surroundings will be inundated with strangely beautiful and slightly twisted music from the Maritimes.

In the past, Ars Subtilior events were reserved for understated, small chamber music concerts that involved only a handful of CMW musicians with an occasional appearance by our Phase II students. This season, no holds barred.

Almost every person involved with CMW – from our Development Director to our youngest Daily Orchestra Program student – plus numerous guest performers coming all the way from California, Montreal and New York, will be included in this onslaught of experimental music.

The festival begins the day André arrives with a workshop/performance during All-Play at Calvary Baptist Church. Students of my SoundLab class will perform selections from the simple, but fruitful graphic score “Un ensemble d’actions possibles,” creating sounds on mini modular synthesizers that we’ve worked on in class in conjunction with some good old string playing. That day will also feature “25 Bars for Four Dollars” performed by Sarah Kim, Piero Guimaraes, Zan Berry, and myself on pennies.

That’s right, you heard me: pennies.

On Wednesday, Andre will visit with students of the Daily Orchestra Program, who will also be experimenting with pennies and playing through “Un ensemble d’actions possibles” while he offers composerly pointers.

On Thursday, Cormier’s “Scattershot Beethoven,” performed by Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth, and “Marie-Pierre,” performed by Andrei Baumann can be heard at the Sonata Series at RISD Museum. There will be a pre-concert reception: come by and meet André and the performers before the start of the program!

Friday will feature three different configurations of André’s chamber music: his take on a string quartet “Plaie Mortelle” (Mortal Wound), his Candle Quartet featuring our administrative staff (Katie, Kelly, Liz) and newly appointed DOP string teacher, Tessa Sacramone, all lighting and blowing out candles over the course of an hour. “Fleurs d’équinoxe,” a light and sparse circular score, will include the talents of alumnus Andrew Oung, formally local composer/performer JPA Falzone , our own Piero Guimaraes, along with members of the MusicWorks Collective.

Saturday, the final day of the festival, culminates in an extravaganza at RISD museum featuring 3 out of 10 volumes of works André composed based on the epic poem “Conversations” by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson. These are by far the lushest of Andre’s works and should not be missed. Guest artists Teodora Stepancic (pianist from New York), Andrea Young (soprano from Montreal) and Robin Streb (violist from Moncton) along with myself, will be bringing these works to life. That day will also include a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by Phase 2 students, trilling on their instruments like flying insects throughout the galleries. And finally, his string octet “Microbes” with quietly pulsating pizzicatos and meandering glissandi, played by the illustrious MusicWorks Collective.

Come. You’ll never hear anything like this ever again.

–Laura Cetilia

Festival Schedule:

Thursday, October 19 at 7pm
RISD Museum Grand Gallery
For this first event of the Sonata Series, Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth perform Andre Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven and cellist Adrienne Taylor performs Beethoven with guest pianist Andrei Baumann.
RISD Museum, Grand Gallery 
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert and Museum Admission is free

Friday, October 20 at 8pm
Sutton Space Gallery
Community MusicWorks musicians and staff perform Cormier’s Candle Quartet, Fleurs d’équinoxe, and Plaie Mortelle.
159 Sutton Street, Providence
Suggested donation $20

Saturday, October 21 11am-5pm
RISD Museum-various galleries
Saturday’s day-long event features several performances: works based on the epic poem Conversations by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson (with guest soprano Andrea Young), a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by CMW Phase II students and Microbes performed by the MusicWorks Collective.
RISD Museum
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert is free with Museum admission

Saturday’s Schedule:
11am-Noon
Conversations 1 in the Grand Gallery
Noon-1pm
Microbes in the Grand Gallery
1pm-2pm
Conversations 3 in the Grand Gallery
2pm-3pm
Libellules in Various Galleries
3pm-4pm
Conversations 5 in the Grand Gallery

 

 

 

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

This year, Community MusicWorks launches its third decade, and as we step into the next chapter of this organization’s growth our work is urgent in new ways. Twenty years ago the idea of a string quartet in a permanent residency in an urban neighborhood was a fringe idea in classical music. The notion that an urban residency would be the core of a chamber group’s life and work and that community development would be an equal ambition to playing and teaching was new territory.

Now, two decades in, conservatories are graduating students with entrepreneurship training, many with a social change focus; musicians are seeking alternate venues to the traditional concert halls, and increasingly orchestras and concert series are investing in their communities. All this points to a movement that is robust, respected, and ever growing: musicians experimenting with new forms, new career paths, and new inquiries into the place of musicianship in contemporary life.

CMW in our third decade has a new task to help grow this generation of students and musicians. With the launch of our MusicWorks Network and Fellowship, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we lead a new conversation across the country into the connections between social justice and musical practice, and share ways in which young people’s participation in programs like CMW can support their paths to and through college. We are thrilled to be bringing together former participants from both the CMW Fellowship Program and Institutes for Musicianship and Public Service, now leading programs of their own in more than 15 cities across the country and in Canada, to grow and learn together.

In our concert series, Season 21 offers adventurous programming. You’ll notice that most programs feature one or more female composers’ works, an intentional effort to align our concert programming with our commitment to equity and social justice. From the season opener to the June finale, you’ll be invited into new sonic experiences—the driving intensity of Julia Wolfe’s “Cruel Sister,” a new work by Annika Socolofsky, a festival celebrating André Cormier’s quiet masterpieces, and the premiere of a work by Rhode Island composer Forrest Larson. There are many opportunities for new sounds and experiences!

Our tradition of Bach in November continues, including the fifth year of the overnight Bach marathon. This season also features a special benefit performance by Johnny Gandelsman (of Brooklyn Rider and the Silk Road Project) of all the Bach solo works for violin—a spiritual and physical feat rarely undertaken, even by violinists of the greatest stamina.

Our December Solstice Concert returns—back by popular demand! The storytelling and musical adventure takes us again from foxes and crows to the wind and a chickadee, whose song reminds us that music can bring light and hope—a wonderful allegorical tale that reflects CMW’s mission.

One final thought to carry with you as you help launch this third decade—our work is about each person’s continual development, or what Maxine Greene would call “being on the way.” From our students to our musician-teachers, to audience members and supporters, CMW’s mission focuses on encouraging all of us to be continually on our way—toward growth, deeper awareness, and indeed transformative experiences of beauty and community.

Let’s step together into the work of this third decade!

-Sebastian Ruth, Founder & Artistic Director

Check our Season 21 calendar here.

MusicWorks Network: A New Initiative

Within the past twenty-one years, CMW has offered professional musicians opportunities to re-imagine the very foundations of a classical music career, and to think more broadly about music as a way of engaging in and with communities.

This year, CMW has the opportunity to deepen that work with the support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a new initiative, Citizens of the World: Forging Pathways to College and Beyond. This strategic initiative is designed to substantially increase the number of racially diverse, low-income young people who gain access to critical skills that promote success. This work builds on CMW’s 20-year history of developing music-based education programs designed to open new worlds of opportunity to low-income African-American and Latino youth. Out of this work has come Phase II, an approach to developing fundamental skills and supports that promote college-going, that has led 95% of CMW graduates to continue to college.

CMW will share CMW’s successful college-going model across a network of community-based music education sites. Called the MusicWorks Network, this project will link 10-15 community-based music sites serving over 650 young people and convene them in an annual Summer Institute for training, resource-sharing, and collaborative evaluation.

The first Summer Institute took place this past August 22-30 as educators and staff from ten different organizations gathered at the beautiful Rolling Ridge Conference Center in North Andover, MA. Connecting around the ways that social justice practices and technical and artistic work on string instruments can support one another, teachers and staff came from Community MusicWorks, MusiConnects (Boston, MA), MyCincinnati (Cincinnati, OH), Musica Franklin (Franklin, MA), Orchestra of St. Luke’s (New York, New York), MusicHaven (New Haven, CT), Newport Strings (Newport, RI), Sistema New Brunswick (New Brunswick, St. John, Canada), Strong Harbor Strings (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada), and Neighborhood Strings (Worcester, MA).

Participants convened for a range of workshops and trainings, including a 2-day string pedagogy workshop with renowned violinist and teacher Mimi Zweig, a poetry and social justice workshop with poet Jonathan Mendoza, a workshop on anti-racist organizational frameworks with trainer and activist Adeola Oredola, and discussions and reflection around the creative synergy between string pedagogy and social justice teachings.

The Institute was designed and facilitated by Sebastian Ruth and Chloe Kline with the new MusicWorks Network staff: MusicWorks Network Director Jori Ketten and MusicWorks Network Fellow Andrew Oung. Part of the initiative, the MusicWorks Network Fellowship is a one-year position for alumni of CMW’s youth program or graduates of CMW’s two-year Fellowship Program to contribute to the MusicWorks Network. Andrew is our first alumni hire at CMW.

 

Revolution of Values

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise.

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:
[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!
–Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director

Revolution of Values: A Day of Creative Action

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise. 

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:

[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!

-Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director 

Art in a Time of Rage

As CMW musicians have been working over the past several weeks to articulate our response as artists and citizens to the many events of the new administration, our discussions have toggled between the actions we need to take raising our voices as engaged citizens and making music.

New Yorker music critic Alex Ross, who once profiled CMW, takes on this question in his post about how musicians make music in a time of rage. Ross quotes Lucy Caplan*, whose essay about CMW’s 2016 Art and Social Action symposium is The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts.

*A fun fact: Lucy worked with CMW’s Sebastian Ruth as a student in his Yale class, and then as a TA in his Music and Social Action Coursera class. Read more about Lucy here and here.

 

Links:
Alex Ross: Making Art in a Time of Rage
Alex Ross: Learning the Score (CMW Profile in the New Yorker)
Lucy Caplan: The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts
Sebastian Ruth: Music and Social Action (Coursera)

 

 

 

Talking and Listening: Behind the Scenes of 20 Years, 20 Stories

 

 

 

 

 

Linda Daniels is a writer, editor, cellist, CMW parent, former CMW Board member and expert eavesdropper. She helms the 20 Years, 20 Stories project and this is her story.

I’ve been an eavesdropper since childhood. My mother liked to pour herself a Royal Crown cola in the late afternoon, park herself on the couch and telephone her mother, which was my cue to c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y raise the extension handset upstairs. Usually, they discussed mundane matters:  pork chops versus chicken, how this season’s fashions were so unflattering and, now and then, family gossip. The topics were almost beside the point, except for the family gossip, which is why I eavesdropped in the first place. But I was also intrigued by the mysterious current of poetry running beneath even the most routine remarks. I loved the give and take of conversation, the sighs and pauses, the sound of my mother’s sympathetic tsk-tsk’s and my grandmother’s pretty brogue. I almost always got busted and was scolded, but not seriously enough to deter me from future attempts. Talking was as close as my family got to making music. No one sang or played an instrument, and my relatives just embarrassed themselves trying to clap along to music, but man, could these people talk. Listeners, even illicit ones, had a role to play, too. We completed the performance circle.

In college, Studs Terkel’s oral history Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do shaped my senior year thesis. I made the leap from habitual eavesdropper to scholarly interviewer and collected the oral histories of women who came of age during the 1920s. The best parts of the resulting 200-plus-page door-stopper were their reminiscences. After college, I became a reporter: more listening, more writing. Even after I quit newspapers and turned to other pursuits, I never lost the eavesdropping habit. My husband recognizes the faraway look that crosses my face when we’re in a public space and I hear something that bears further investigation, convinced, of course, that no one can tell what I’m up to. After 27 years, he also knows that whatever he and I were talking about will have to wait. More recently, I’ve been inspired by writer Svetlana Alexievich, who won a Nobel for Secondhand Time, her beautifully rendered oral history of post-Soviet Russians.

In September, I began an exciting new listening and writing project in connection with Community MusicWorks’ 20th anniversary: collecting 20 representative stories of CMW musicians, staff, students, parents and supporters. I’ve been expertly assisted by CMW fellow Josie Davis, who interviewed three people, and Communications Manager Liz Cox, who proofreads the stories and designs the online content. (Read the stories here.)

It hasn’t been difficult to get people to open up. I’ve been a familiar face at CMW since my youngest had his first cello lesson here ten years ago. I’ve exchanged knowing glances with other parents when a beginner nails “Twinkle” and held a collective breath during the dying notes of a Beethoven quartet performed by the pros. I’ve square-danced to fiddle tunes and attempted, much less successfully, the salsa.  I’ve sung rounds and set up folding chairs; fretted over budgets and strategic goals; eased my car past side-view mirrors on snow-bound Messer Street; knitted for newborns; and eaten far too much pizza.

Since people know me better as an at-large mom than as an interviewer and writer, some of my questions may discomfit. Recently, a student I was interviewing put up a hand and blurted, “That’s a weird question!” Um, ok. But can you answer it anyway? I remain confident that what I’m curious about others are too. She answered in good faith, trusting that I have her back. I am honored by that trust. You readers should be also. When people talk honestly they make themselves vulnerable. They don’t want to be misconstrued as they describe emotions and realizations that can’t be summarized by facts alone. This is especially true of CMW’s staff, who are talking about their life’s work.

It’s why I take the final step of the oral history process so seriously: converting 8-20 pages of interview transcript to a narrative that honors the speaker’s intentions, captures history while it’s still occurring, and compels readers. It’s a messy process. No matter how cleverly I order the questions and pursue answers during an interview, the talk meanders, as talk will. Even the most prepared and polished speakers wander off topic and speak colloquially, thank goodness. They are thinking out loud, which is where the music happens. It’s the difference between watching an official read a prepared statement from behind a podium and hearing him speak spontaneously from the heart when a reporter surprises him off-stage by asking exactly the right question at the right moment. I’m going for the latter.

Some “20 Years, 20 Stories” subjects have been flummoxed by the difference between the hour-plus interview they remember and the 2-5 page story I produce, having edited and condensed our conversation to a fare-thee-well, absenting my questions along the way. (Available here, if you’re curious.) They worry about being misperceived and about sounding too casual. They worry that they have said too much or too little. It is scary to see your constantly morphing thoughts marching in regimental black lines across white space. Where are the raised eyebrows signaling sincerity or the smile signaling warmth? Where are the tears that welled up when recalling a triumphant moment with a challenging student? Where’s a second or third chance to rephrase? To be more thoughtful? To explain more fully?

Oral history and chamber music have much in common. Both art forms strive to capture human experience through artifice and collaborative effort, and both are very much of the moment. Therein lies the thrill. Having made the artistic decision to omit interview questions in favor of narrative flow, I don’t worry that readers need cue cards. I trust that readers will appreciate what I appreciate about oral history: the idiosyncratic quirks of everyday speech as thoughtful people talk about things that matter. Subjects can trust their beautiful, one-of-a-kind voices to tell the story. The rest of us can pick up the extension and listen in.

The 20 Years, 20 Stories homepage.

Archives

CMW Celebrates 20 with Twenty Years, Twenty Stories

cmw20_header

 

 

 

This year Community MusicWorks turns 20! To mark the milestone, we are gathering the stories of 20 members of our community–musicians, students, parents, graduates and supporters. Look for new stories throughout the season.

Interviews were recorded, transcribed and edited to create personal narratives in each subject’s distinctive voice. We hope 20 Years, 20 Stories captures the many flavors and varieties of CMW experience. Join us at a concert anytime to start creating your own CMW story.

Read the interviews here.

 

community-day-cake

 

An Evening with Johnny Gandelsman in a Concert to Benefit CMW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community MusicWorks invites you to an evening with world-renowned violinist Johnny Gandelsman in a solo concert to benefit CMW.

Join us Thursday, November 9 at 7pm as Johnny Gandelsman of Silk Road and Brooklyn Rider performs the Six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin by J.S. Bach.  All proceeds of this concert will support the free music education programs at Community MusicWorks.

To hear Johnny Gandelsman play solo Bach is to hear someone with an impeccable technique and mastery of the instrument who has re-imagined these works and the gestures required to play them. Having grown up in Russia and Israel, and later studying at the Curtis Institute of Music, Johnny’s training readied him for a major international solo career. Instead, Johnny’s individual voice has led him to absorb styles of violin playing from historical recordings, Irish fiddlers, banjo virtuosos, Persian musicians and more, and he has incorporated all these elements into his sensibilities as a violinist, basically inventing his own style of violin playing.

The Six Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin are some of the deepest, most spiritually rich music for the violin (or for any instrument). They are part of every violinist’s journey throughout a lifetime–from learning the simpler movements in student years to tackling the signature epic movements at later stages, including the fugues, the Chaconne, and others. Few violinists record the entire set of six Sonatas and Partitas and fewer still perform them all at once. Johnny has done both, and will perform them as a benefit for CMW.

This is an event not to be missed!

Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 7pm
First Unitarian Church
1 Benevolent Street, Providence
$30 General Seating
$100 Preferred Seating with a pre-concert reception at 6pm
Purchase tickets here

 

 

 

October 19-21: Sonata Series and Ars Subtilior Festival features André Cormier

 

 

 

 

 

 


Composer André Cormier

Join us for a weekend focused on Composer-in-Residence André Cormier as part of the Sonata Series and the Ars Subtilior Festival. Beginning on Thursday, the Sonata Series Event at RISD will feature a performance of Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven, and events on Friday evening and an all-day event on Saturday will feature works by Cormier performed by the composer himself, special guests, the MusicWorks Collective and CMW students.

Strangely Beautiful and Slightly Twisted:
A Note from Ars Subtilior curator and CMW Resident Musician Laura Cetilia

An unprecedented event is upon us. On October 17, Acadian composer André Cormier will be arriving in Providence as composer-in-residence for the 2017 Ars Subtilior Festival at Community MusicWorks. For five days, CMW and its surroundings will be inundated with strangely beautiful and slightly twisted music from the Maritimes.

In the past, Ars Subtilior events were reserved for understated, small chamber music concerts that involved only a handful of CMW musicians with an occasional appearance by our Phase II students. This season, no holds barred.

Almost every person involved with CMW – from our Development Director to our youngest Daily Orchestra Program student – plus numerous guest performers coming all the way from California, Montreal and New York, will be included in this onslaught of experimental music.

The festival begins the day André arrives with a workshop/performance during All-Play at Calvary Baptist Church. Students of my SoundLab class will perform selections from the simple, but fruitful graphic score “Un ensemble d’actions possibles,” creating sounds on mini modular synthesizers that we’ve worked on in class in conjunction with some good old string playing. That day will also feature “25 Bars for Four Dollars” performed by Sarah Kim, Piero Guimaraes, Zan Berry, and myself on pennies.

That’s right, you heard me: pennies.

On Wednesday, Andre will visit with students of the Daily Orchestra Program, who will also be experimenting with pennies and playing through “Un ensemble d’actions possibles” while he offers composerly pointers.

On Thursday, Cormier’s “Scattershot Beethoven,” performed by Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth, and “Marie-Pierre,” performed by Andrei Baumann can be heard at the Sonata Series at RISD Museum. There will be a pre-concert reception: come by and meet André and the performers before the start of the program!

Friday will feature three different configurations of André’s chamber music: his take on a string quartet “Plaie Mortelle” (Mortal Wound), his Candle Quartet featuring our administrative staff (Katie, Kelly, Liz) and newly appointed DOP string teacher, Tessa Sacramone, all lighting and blowing out candles over the course of an hour. “Fleurs d’équinoxe,” a light and sparse circular score, will include the talents of alumnus Andrew Oung, formally local composer/performer JPA Falzone , our own Piero Guimaraes, along with members of the MusicWorks Collective.

Saturday, the final day of the festival, culminates in an extravaganza at RISD museum featuring 3 out of 10 volumes of works André composed based on the epic poem “Conversations” by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson. These are by far the lushest of Andre’s works and should not be missed. Guest artists Teodora Stepancic (pianist from New York), Andrea Young (soprano from Montreal) and Robin Streb (violist from Moncton) along with myself, will be bringing these works to life. That day will also include a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by Phase 2 students, trilling on their instruments like flying insects throughout the galleries. And finally, his string octet “Microbes” with quietly pulsating pizzicatos and meandering glissandi, played by the illustrious MusicWorks Collective.

Come. You’ll never hear anything like this ever again.

–Laura Cetilia

Festival Schedule:

Thursday, October 19 at 7pm
RISD Museum Grand Gallery
For this first event of the Sonata Series, Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth perform Andre Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven and cellist Adrienne Taylor performs Beethoven with guest pianist Andrei Baumann.
RISD Museum, Grand Gallery 
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert and Museum Admission is free

Friday, October 20 at 8pm
Sutton Space Gallery
Community MusicWorks musicians and staff perform Cormier’s Candle Quartet, Fleurs d’équinoxe, and Plaie Mortelle.
159 Sutton Street, Providence
Suggested donation $20

Saturday, October 21 11am-5pm
RISD Museum-various galleries
Saturday’s day-long event features several performances: works based on the epic poem Conversations by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson (with guest soprano Andrea Young), a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by CMW Phase II students and Microbes performed by the MusicWorks Collective.
RISD Museum
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert is free with Museum admission

Saturday’s Schedule:
11am-Noon
Conversations 1 in the Grand Gallery
Noon-1pm
Microbes in the Grand Gallery
1pm-2pm
Conversations 3 in the Grand Gallery
2pm-3pm
Libellules in Various Galleries
3pm-4pm
Conversations 5 in the Grand Gallery

 

 

 

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

This year, Community MusicWorks launches its third decade, and as we step into the next chapter of this organization’s growth our work is urgent in new ways. Twenty years ago the idea of a string quartet in a permanent residency in an urban neighborhood was a fringe idea in classical music. The notion that an urban residency would be the core of a chamber group’s life and work and that community development would be an equal ambition to playing and teaching was new territory.

Now, two decades in, conservatories are graduating students with entrepreneurship training, many with a social change focus; musicians are seeking alternate venues to the traditional concert halls, and increasingly orchestras and concert series are investing in their communities. All this points to a movement that is robust, respected, and ever growing: musicians experimenting with new forms, new career paths, and new inquiries into the place of musicianship in contemporary life.

CMW in our third decade has a new task to help grow this generation of students and musicians. With the launch of our MusicWorks Network and Fellowship, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we lead a new conversation across the country into the connections between social justice and musical practice, and share ways in which young people’s participation in programs like CMW can support their paths to and through college. We are thrilled to be bringing together former participants from both the CMW Fellowship Program and Institutes for Musicianship and Public Service, now leading programs of their own in more than 15 cities across the country and in Canada, to grow and learn together.

In our concert series, Season 21 offers adventurous programming. You’ll notice that most programs feature one or more female composers’ works, an intentional effort to align our concert programming with our commitment to equity and social justice. From the season opener to the June finale, you’ll be invited into new sonic experiences—the driving intensity of Julia Wolfe’s “Cruel Sister,” a new work by Annika Socolofsky, a festival celebrating André Cormier’s quiet masterpieces, and the premiere of a work by Rhode Island composer Forrest Larson. There are many opportunities for new sounds and experiences!

Our tradition of Bach in November continues, including the fifth year of the overnight Bach marathon. This season also features a special benefit performance by Johnny Gandelsman (of Brooklyn Rider and the Silk Road Project) of all the Bach solo works for violin—a spiritual and physical feat rarely undertaken, even by violinists of the greatest stamina.

Our December Solstice Concert returns—back by popular demand! The storytelling and musical adventure takes us again from foxes and crows to the wind and a chickadee, whose song reminds us that music can bring light and hope—a wonderful allegorical tale that reflects CMW’s mission.

One final thought to carry with you as you help launch this third decade—our work is about each person’s continual development, or what Maxine Greene would call “being on the way.” From our students to our musician-teachers, to audience members and supporters, CMW’s mission focuses on encouraging all of us to be continually on our way—toward growth, deeper awareness, and indeed transformative experiences of beauty and community.

Let’s step together into the work of this third decade!

-Sebastian Ruth, Founder & Artistic Director

Check our Season 21 calendar here.

MusicWorks Network: A New Initiative

Within the past twenty-one years, CMW has offered professional musicians opportunities to re-imagine the very foundations of a classical music career, and to think more broadly about music as a way of engaging in and with communities.

This year, CMW has the opportunity to deepen that work with the support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a new initiative, Citizens of the World: Forging Pathways to College and Beyond. This strategic initiative is designed to substantially increase the number of racially diverse, low-income young people who gain access to critical skills that promote success. This work builds on CMW’s 20-year history of developing music-based education programs designed to open new worlds of opportunity to low-income African-American and Latino youth. Out of this work has come Phase II, an approach to developing fundamental skills and supports that promote college-going, that has led 95% of CMW graduates to continue to college.

CMW will share CMW’s successful college-going model across a network of community-based music education sites. Called the MusicWorks Network, this project will link 10-15 community-based music sites serving over 650 young people and convene them in an annual Summer Institute for training, resource-sharing, and collaborative evaluation.

The first Summer Institute took place this past August 22-30 as educators and staff from ten different organizations gathered at the beautiful Rolling Ridge Conference Center in North Andover, MA. Connecting around the ways that social justice practices and technical and artistic work on string instruments can support one another, teachers and staff came from Community MusicWorks, MusiConnects (Boston, MA), MyCincinnati (Cincinnati, OH), Musica Franklin (Franklin, MA), Orchestra of St. Luke’s (New York, New York), MusicHaven (New Haven, CT), Newport Strings (Newport, RI), Sistema New Brunswick (New Brunswick, St. John, Canada), Strong Harbor Strings (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada), and Neighborhood Strings (Worcester, MA).

Participants convened for a range of workshops and trainings, including a 2-day string pedagogy workshop with renowned violinist and teacher Mimi Zweig, a poetry and social justice workshop with poet Jonathan Mendoza, a workshop on anti-racist organizational frameworks with trainer and activist Adeola Oredola, and discussions and reflection around the creative synergy between string pedagogy and social justice teachings.

The Institute was designed and facilitated by Sebastian Ruth and Chloe Kline with the new MusicWorks Network staff: MusicWorks Network Director Jori Ketten and MusicWorks Network Fellow Andrew Oung. Part of the initiative, the MusicWorks Network Fellowship is a one-year position for alumni of CMW’s youth program or graduates of CMW’s two-year Fellowship Program to contribute to the MusicWorks Network. Andrew is our first alumni hire at CMW.

 

Revolution of Values

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise.

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:
[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!
–Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director

Revolution of Values: A Day of Creative Action

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise. 

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:

[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!

-Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director 

Art in a Time of Rage

As CMW musicians have been working over the past several weeks to articulate our response as artists and citizens to the many events of the new administration, our discussions have toggled between the actions we need to take raising our voices as engaged citizens and making music.

New Yorker music critic Alex Ross, who once profiled CMW, takes on this question in his post about how musicians make music in a time of rage. Ross quotes Lucy Caplan*, whose essay about CMW’s 2016 Art and Social Action symposium is The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts.

*A fun fact: Lucy worked with CMW’s Sebastian Ruth as a student in his Yale class, and then as a TA in his Music and Social Action Coursera class. Read more about Lucy here and here.

 

Links:
Alex Ross: Making Art in a Time of Rage
Alex Ross: Learning the Score (CMW Profile in the New Yorker)
Lucy Caplan: The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts
Sebastian Ruth: Music and Social Action (Coursera)

 

 

 

Talking and Listening: Behind the Scenes of 20 Years, 20 Stories

 

 

 

 

 

Linda Daniels is a writer, editor, cellist, CMW parent, former CMW Board member and expert eavesdropper. She helms the 20 Years, 20 Stories project and this is her story.

I’ve been an eavesdropper since childhood. My mother liked to pour herself a Royal Crown cola in the late afternoon, park herself on the couch and telephone her mother, which was my cue to c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y raise the extension handset upstairs. Usually, they discussed mundane matters:  pork chops versus chicken, how this season’s fashions were so unflattering and, now and then, family gossip. The topics were almost beside the point, except for the family gossip, which is why I eavesdropped in the first place. But I was also intrigued by the mysterious current of poetry running beneath even the most routine remarks. I loved the give and take of conversation, the sighs and pauses, the sound of my mother’s sympathetic tsk-tsk’s and my grandmother’s pretty brogue. I almost always got busted and was scolded, but not seriously enough to deter me from future attempts. Talking was as close as my family got to making music. No one sang or played an instrument, and my relatives just embarrassed themselves trying to clap along to music, but man, could these people talk. Listeners, even illicit ones, had a role to play, too. We completed the performance circle.

In college, Studs Terkel’s oral history Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do shaped my senior year thesis. I made the leap from habitual eavesdropper to scholarly interviewer and collected the oral histories of women who came of age during the 1920s. The best parts of the resulting 200-plus-page door-stopper were their reminiscences. After college, I became a reporter: more listening, more writing. Even after I quit newspapers and turned to other pursuits, I never lost the eavesdropping habit. My husband recognizes the faraway look that crosses my face when we’re in a public space and I hear something that bears further investigation, convinced, of course, that no one can tell what I’m up to. After 27 years, he also knows that whatever he and I were talking about will have to wait. More recently, I’ve been inspired by writer Svetlana Alexievich, who won a Nobel for Secondhand Time, her beautifully rendered oral history of post-Soviet Russians.

In September, I began an exciting new listening and writing project in connection with Community MusicWorks’ 20th anniversary: collecting 20 representative stories of CMW musicians, staff, students, parents and supporters. I’ve been expertly assisted by CMW fellow Josie Davis, who interviewed three people, and Communications Manager Liz Cox, who proofreads the stories and designs the online content. (Read the stories here.)

It hasn’t been difficult to get people to open up. I’ve been a familiar face at CMW since my youngest had his first cello lesson here ten years ago. I’ve exchanged knowing glances with other parents when a beginner nails “Twinkle” and held a collective breath during the dying notes of a Beethoven quartet performed by the pros. I’ve square-danced to fiddle tunes and attempted, much less successfully, the salsa.  I’ve sung rounds and set up folding chairs; fretted over budgets and strategic goals; eased my car past side-view mirrors on snow-bound Messer Street; knitted for newborns; and eaten far too much pizza.

Since people know me better as an at-large mom than as an interviewer and writer, some of my questions may discomfit. Recently, a student I was interviewing put up a hand and blurted, “That’s a weird question!” Um, ok. But can you answer it anyway? I remain confident that what I’m curious about others are too. She answered in good faith, trusting that I have her back. I am honored by that trust. You readers should be also. When people talk honestly they make themselves vulnerable. They don’t want to be misconstrued as they describe emotions and realizations that can’t be summarized by facts alone. This is especially true of CMW’s staff, who are talking about their life’s work.

It’s why I take the final step of the oral history process so seriously: converting 8-20 pages of interview transcript to a narrative that honors the speaker’s intentions, captures history while it’s still occurring, and compels readers. It’s a messy process. No matter how cleverly I order the questions and pursue answers during an interview, the talk meanders, as talk will. Even the most prepared and polished speakers wander off topic and speak colloquially, thank goodness. They are thinking out loud, which is where the music happens. It’s the difference between watching an official read a prepared statement from behind a podium and hearing him speak spontaneously from the heart when a reporter surprises him off-stage by asking exactly the right question at the right moment. I’m going for the latter.

Some “20 Years, 20 Stories” subjects have been flummoxed by the difference between the hour-plus interview they remember and the 2-5 page story I produce, having edited and condensed our conversation to a fare-thee-well, absenting my questions along the way. (Available here, if you’re curious.) They worry about being misperceived and about sounding too casual. They worry that they have said too much or too little. It is scary to see your constantly morphing thoughts marching in regimental black lines across white space. Where are the raised eyebrows signaling sincerity or the smile signaling warmth? Where are the tears that welled up when recalling a triumphant moment with a challenging student? Where’s a second or third chance to rephrase? To be more thoughtful? To explain more fully?

Oral history and chamber music have much in common. Both art forms strive to capture human experience through artifice and collaborative effort, and both are very much of the moment. Therein lies the thrill. Having made the artistic decision to omit interview questions in favor of narrative flow, I don’t worry that readers need cue cards. I trust that readers will appreciate what I appreciate about oral history: the idiosyncratic quirks of everyday speech as thoughtful people talk about things that matter. Subjects can trust their beautiful, one-of-a-kind voices to tell the story. The rest of us can pick up the extension and listen in.

The 20 Years, 20 Stories homepage.

Archives

CMW Celebrates 20 with Twenty Years, Twenty Stories

cmw20_header

 

 

 

This year Community MusicWorks turns 20! To mark the milestone, we are gathering the stories of 20 members of our community–musicians, students, parents, graduates and supporters. Look for new stories throughout the season.

Interviews were recorded, transcribed and edited to create personal narratives in each subject’s distinctive voice. We hope 20 Years, 20 Stories captures the many flavors and varieties of CMW experience. Join us at a concert anytime to start creating your own CMW story.

Read the interviews here.

 

community-day-cake

 

An Evening with Johnny Gandelsman in a Concert to Benefit CMW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community MusicWorks invites you to an evening with world-renowned violinist Johnny Gandelsman in a solo concert to benefit CMW.

Join us Thursday, November 9 at 7pm as Johnny Gandelsman of Silk Road and Brooklyn Rider performs the Six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin by J.S. Bach.  All proceeds of this concert will support the free music education programs at Community MusicWorks.

To hear Johnny Gandelsman play solo Bach is to hear someone with an impeccable technique and mastery of the instrument who has re-imagined these works and the gestures required to play them. Having grown up in Russia and Israel, and later studying at the Curtis Institute of Music, Johnny’s training readied him for a major international solo career. Instead, Johnny’s individual voice has led him to absorb styles of violin playing from historical recordings, Irish fiddlers, banjo virtuosos, Persian musicians and more, and he has incorporated all these elements into his sensibilities as a violinist, basically inventing his own style of violin playing.

The Six Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin are some of the deepest, most spiritually rich music for the violin (or for any instrument). They are part of every violinist’s journey throughout a lifetime–from learning the simpler movements in student years to tackling the signature epic movements at later stages, including the fugues, the Chaconne, and others. Few violinists record the entire set of six Sonatas and Partitas and fewer still perform them all at once. Johnny has done both, and will perform them as a benefit for CMW.

This is an event not to be missed!

Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 7pm
First Unitarian Church
1 Benevolent Street, Providence
$30 General Seating
$100 Preferred Seating with a pre-concert reception at 6pm
Purchase tickets here

 

 

 

October 19-21: Sonata Series and Ars Subtilior Festival features André Cormier

 

 

 

 

 

 


Composer André Cormier

Join us for a weekend focused on Composer-in-Residence André Cormier as part of the Sonata Series and the Ars Subtilior Festival. Beginning on Thursday, the Sonata Series Event at RISD will feature a performance of Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven, and events on Friday evening and an all-day event on Saturday will feature works by Cormier performed by the composer himself, special guests, the MusicWorks Collective and CMW students.

Strangely Beautiful and Slightly Twisted:
A Note from Ars Subtilior curator and CMW Resident Musician Laura Cetilia

An unprecedented event is upon us. On October 17, Acadian composer André Cormier will be arriving in Providence as composer-in-residence for the 2017 Ars Subtilior Festival at Community MusicWorks. For five days, CMW and its surroundings will be inundated with strangely beautiful and slightly twisted music from the Maritimes.

In the past, Ars Subtilior events were reserved for understated, small chamber music concerts that involved only a handful of CMW musicians with an occasional appearance by our Phase II students. This season, no holds barred.

Almost every person involved with CMW – from our Development Director to our youngest Daily Orchestra Program student – plus numerous guest performers coming all the way from California, Montreal and New York, will be included in this onslaught of experimental music.

The festival begins the day André arrives with a workshop/performance during All-Play at Calvary Baptist Church. Students of my SoundLab class will perform selections from the simple, but fruitful graphic score “Un ensemble d’actions possibles,” creating sounds on mini modular synthesizers that we’ve worked on in class in conjunction with some good old string playing. That day will also feature “25 Bars for Four Dollars” performed by Sarah Kim, Piero Guimaraes, Zan Berry, and myself on pennies.

That’s right, you heard me: pennies.

On Wednesday, Andre will visit with students of the Daily Orchestra Program, who will also be experimenting with pennies and playing through “Un ensemble d’actions possibles” while he offers composerly pointers.

On Thursday, Cormier’s “Scattershot Beethoven,” performed by Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth, and “Marie-Pierre,” performed by Andrei Baumann can be heard at the Sonata Series at RISD Museum. There will be a pre-concert reception: come by and meet André and the performers before the start of the program!

Friday will feature three different configurations of André’s chamber music: his take on a string quartet “Plaie Mortelle” (Mortal Wound), his Candle Quartet featuring our administrative staff (Katie, Kelly, Liz) and newly appointed DOP string teacher, Tessa Sacramone, all lighting and blowing out candles over the course of an hour. “Fleurs d’équinoxe,” a light and sparse circular score, will include the talents of alumnus Andrew Oung, formally local composer/performer JPA Falzone , our own Piero Guimaraes, along with members of the MusicWorks Collective.

Saturday, the final day of the festival, culminates in an extravaganza at RISD museum featuring 3 out of 10 volumes of works André composed based on the epic poem “Conversations” by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson. These are by far the lushest of Andre’s works and should not be missed. Guest artists Teodora Stepancic (pianist from New York), Andrea Young (soprano from Montreal) and Robin Streb (violist from Moncton) along with myself, will be bringing these works to life. That day will also include a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by Phase 2 students, trilling on their instruments like flying insects throughout the galleries. And finally, his string octet “Microbes” with quietly pulsating pizzicatos and meandering glissandi, played by the illustrious MusicWorks Collective.

Come. You’ll never hear anything like this ever again.

–Laura Cetilia

Festival Schedule:

Thursday, October 19 at 7pm
RISD Museum Grand Gallery
For this first event of the Sonata Series, Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth perform Andre Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven and cellist Adrienne Taylor performs Beethoven with guest pianist Andrei Baumann.
RISD Museum, Grand Gallery 
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert and Museum Admission is free

Friday, October 20 at 8pm
Sutton Space Gallery
Community MusicWorks musicians and staff perform Cormier’s Candle Quartet, Fleurs d’équinoxe, and Plaie Mortelle.
159 Sutton Street, Providence
Suggested donation $20

Saturday, October 21 11am-5pm
RISD Museum-various galleries
Saturday’s day-long event features several performances: works based on the epic poem Conversations by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson (with guest soprano Andrea Young), a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by CMW Phase II students and Microbes performed by the MusicWorks Collective.
RISD Museum
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert is free with Museum admission

Saturday’s Schedule:
11am-Noon
Conversations 1 in the Grand Gallery
Noon-1pm
Microbes in the Grand Gallery
1pm-2pm
Conversations 3 in the Grand Gallery
2pm-3pm
Libellules in Various Galleries
3pm-4pm
Conversations 5 in the Grand Gallery

 

 

 

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

This year, Community MusicWorks launches its third decade, and as we step into the next chapter of this organization’s growth our work is urgent in new ways. Twenty years ago the idea of a string quartet in a permanent residency in an urban neighborhood was a fringe idea in classical music. The notion that an urban residency would be the core of a chamber group’s life and work and that community development would be an equal ambition to playing and teaching was new territory.

Now, two decades in, conservatories are graduating students with entrepreneurship training, many with a social change focus; musicians are seeking alternate venues to the traditional concert halls, and increasingly orchestras and concert series are investing in their communities. All this points to a movement that is robust, respected, and ever growing: musicians experimenting with new forms, new career paths, and new inquiries into the place of musicianship in contemporary life.

CMW in our third decade has a new task to help grow this generation of students and musicians. With the launch of our MusicWorks Network and Fellowship, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we lead a new conversation across the country into the connections between social justice and musical practice, and share ways in which young people’s participation in programs like CMW can support their paths to and through college. We are thrilled to be bringing together former participants from both the CMW Fellowship Program and Institutes for Musicianship and Public Service, now leading programs of their own in more than 15 cities across the country and in Canada, to grow and learn together.

In our concert series, Season 21 offers adventurous programming. You’ll notice that most programs feature one or more female composers’ works, an intentional effort to align our concert programming with our commitment to equity and social justice. From the season opener to the June finale, you’ll be invited into new sonic experiences—the driving intensity of Julia Wolfe’s “Cruel Sister,” a new work by Annika Socolofsky, a festival celebrating André Cormier’s quiet masterpieces, and the premiere of a work by Rhode Island composer Forrest Larson. There are many opportunities for new sounds and experiences!

Our tradition of Bach in November continues, including the fifth year of the overnight Bach marathon. This season also features a special benefit performance by Johnny Gandelsman (of Brooklyn Rider and the Silk Road Project) of all the Bach solo works for violin—a spiritual and physical feat rarely undertaken, even by violinists of the greatest stamina.

Our December Solstice Concert returns—back by popular demand! The storytelling and musical adventure takes us again from foxes and crows to the wind and a chickadee, whose song reminds us that music can bring light and hope—a wonderful allegorical tale that reflects CMW’s mission.

One final thought to carry with you as you help launch this third decade—our work is about each person’s continual development, or what Maxine Greene would call “being on the way.” From our students to our musician-teachers, to audience members and supporters, CMW’s mission focuses on encouraging all of us to be continually on our way—toward growth, deeper awareness, and indeed transformative experiences of beauty and community.

Let’s step together into the work of this third decade!

-Sebastian Ruth, Founder & Artistic Director

Check our Season 21 calendar here.

MusicWorks Network: A New Initiative

Within the past twenty-one years, CMW has offered professional musicians opportunities to re-imagine the very foundations of a classical music career, and to think more broadly about music as a way of engaging in and with communities.

This year, CMW has the opportunity to deepen that work with the support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a new initiative, Citizens of the World: Forging Pathways to College and Beyond. This strategic initiative is designed to substantially increase the number of racially diverse, low-income young people who gain access to critical skills that promote success. This work builds on CMW’s 20-year history of developing music-based education programs designed to open new worlds of opportunity to low-income African-American and Latino youth. Out of this work has come Phase II, an approach to developing fundamental skills and supports that promote college-going, that has led 95% of CMW graduates to continue to college.

CMW will share CMW’s successful college-going model across a network of community-based music education sites. Called the MusicWorks Network, this project will link 10-15 community-based music sites serving over 650 young people and convene them in an annual Summer Institute for training, resource-sharing, and collaborative evaluation.

The first Summer Institute took place this past August 22-30 as educators and staff from ten different organizations gathered at the beautiful Rolling Ridge Conference Center in North Andover, MA. Connecting around the ways that social justice practices and technical and artistic work on string instruments can support one another, teachers and staff came from Community MusicWorks, MusiConnects (Boston, MA), MyCincinnati (Cincinnati, OH), Musica Franklin (Franklin, MA), Orchestra of St. Luke’s (New York, New York), MusicHaven (New Haven, CT), Newport Strings (Newport, RI), Sistema New Brunswick (New Brunswick, St. John, Canada), Strong Harbor Strings (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada), and Neighborhood Strings (Worcester, MA).

Participants convened for a range of workshops and trainings, including a 2-day string pedagogy workshop with renowned violinist and teacher Mimi Zweig, a poetry and social justice workshop with poet Jonathan Mendoza, a workshop on anti-racist organizational frameworks with trainer and activist Adeola Oredola, and discussions and reflection around the creative synergy between string pedagogy and social justice teachings.

The Institute was designed and facilitated by Sebastian Ruth and Chloe Kline with the new MusicWorks Network staff: MusicWorks Network Director Jori Ketten and MusicWorks Network Fellow Andrew Oung. Part of the initiative, the MusicWorks Network Fellowship is a one-year position for alumni of CMW’s youth program or graduates of CMW’s two-year Fellowship Program to contribute to the MusicWorks Network. Andrew is our first alumni hire at CMW.

 

Revolution of Values

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise.

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:
[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!
–Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director

Revolution of Values: A Day of Creative Action

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise. 

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:

[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!

-Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director 

Art in a Time of Rage

As CMW musicians have been working over the past several weeks to articulate our response as artists and citizens to the many events of the new administration, our discussions have toggled between the actions we need to take raising our voices as engaged citizens and making music.

New Yorker music critic Alex Ross, who once profiled CMW, takes on this question in his post about how musicians make music in a time of rage. Ross quotes Lucy Caplan*, whose essay about CMW’s 2016 Art and Social Action symposium is The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts.

*A fun fact: Lucy worked with CMW’s Sebastian Ruth as a student in his Yale class, and then as a TA in his Music and Social Action Coursera class. Read more about Lucy here and here.

 

Links:
Alex Ross: Making Art in a Time of Rage
Alex Ross: Learning the Score (CMW Profile in the New Yorker)
Lucy Caplan: The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts
Sebastian Ruth: Music and Social Action (Coursera)

 

 

 

Talking and Listening: Behind the Scenes of 20 Years, 20 Stories

 

 

 

 

 

Linda Daniels is a writer, editor, cellist, CMW parent, former CMW Board member and expert eavesdropper. She helms the 20 Years, 20 Stories project and this is her story.

I’ve been an eavesdropper since childhood. My mother liked to pour herself a Royal Crown cola in the late afternoon, park herself on the couch and telephone her mother, which was my cue to c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y raise the extension handset upstairs. Usually, they discussed mundane matters:  pork chops versus chicken, how this season’s fashions were so unflattering and, now and then, family gossip. The topics were almost beside the point, except for the family gossip, which is why I eavesdropped in the first place. But I was also intrigued by the mysterious current of poetry running beneath even the most routine remarks. I loved the give and take of conversation, the sighs and pauses, the sound of my mother’s sympathetic tsk-tsk’s and my grandmother’s pretty brogue. I almost always got busted and was scolded, but not seriously enough to deter me from future attempts. Talking was as close as my family got to making music. No one sang or played an instrument, and my relatives just embarrassed themselves trying to clap along to music, but man, could these people talk. Listeners, even illicit ones, had a role to play, too. We completed the performance circle.

In college, Studs Terkel’s oral history Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do shaped my senior year thesis. I made the leap from habitual eavesdropper to scholarly interviewer and collected the oral histories of women who came of age during the 1920s. The best parts of the resulting 200-plus-page door-stopper were their reminiscences. After college, I became a reporter: more listening, more writing. Even after I quit newspapers and turned to other pursuits, I never lost the eavesdropping habit. My husband recognizes the faraway look that crosses my face when we’re in a public space and I hear something that bears further investigation, convinced, of course, that no one can tell what I’m up to. After 27 years, he also knows that whatever he and I were talking about will have to wait. More recently, I’ve been inspired by writer Svetlana Alexievich, who won a Nobel for Secondhand Time, her beautifully rendered oral history of post-Soviet Russians.

In September, I began an exciting new listening and writing project in connection with Community MusicWorks’ 20th anniversary: collecting 20 representative stories of CMW musicians, staff, students, parents and supporters. I’ve been expertly assisted by CMW fellow Josie Davis, who interviewed three people, and Communications Manager Liz Cox, who proofreads the stories and designs the online content. (Read the stories here.)

It hasn’t been difficult to get people to open up. I’ve been a familiar face at CMW since my youngest had his first cello lesson here ten years ago. I’ve exchanged knowing glances with other parents when a beginner nails “Twinkle” and held a collective breath during the dying notes of a Beethoven quartet performed by the pros. I’ve square-danced to fiddle tunes and attempted, much less successfully, the salsa.  I’ve sung rounds and set up folding chairs; fretted over budgets and strategic goals; eased my car past side-view mirrors on snow-bound Messer Street; knitted for newborns; and eaten far too much pizza.

Since people know me better as an at-large mom than as an interviewer and writer, some of my questions may discomfit. Recently, a student I was interviewing put up a hand and blurted, “That’s a weird question!” Um, ok. But can you answer it anyway? I remain confident that what I’m curious about others are too. She answered in good faith, trusting that I have her back. I am honored by that trust. You readers should be also. When people talk honestly they make themselves vulnerable. They don’t want to be misconstrued as they describe emotions and realizations that can’t be summarized by facts alone. This is especially true of CMW’s staff, who are talking about their life’s work.

It’s why I take the final step of the oral history process so seriously: converting 8-20 pages of interview transcript to a narrative that honors the speaker’s intentions, captures history while it’s still occurring, and compels readers. It’s a messy process. No matter how cleverly I order the questions and pursue answers during an interview, the talk meanders, as talk will. Even the most prepared and polished speakers wander off topic and speak colloquially, thank goodness. They are thinking out loud, which is where the music happens. It’s the difference between watching an official read a prepared statement from behind a podium and hearing him speak spontaneously from the heart when a reporter surprises him off-stage by asking exactly the right question at the right moment. I’m going for the latter.

Some “20 Years, 20 Stories” subjects have been flummoxed by the difference between the hour-plus interview they remember and the 2-5 page story I produce, having edited and condensed our conversation to a fare-thee-well, absenting my questions along the way. (Available here, if you’re curious.) They worry about being misperceived and about sounding too casual. They worry that they have said too much or too little. It is scary to see your constantly morphing thoughts marching in regimental black lines across white space. Where are the raised eyebrows signaling sincerity or the smile signaling warmth? Where are the tears that welled up when recalling a triumphant moment with a challenging student? Where’s a second or third chance to rephrase? To be more thoughtful? To explain more fully?

Oral history and chamber music have much in common. Both art forms strive to capture human experience through artifice and collaborative effort, and both are very much of the moment. Therein lies the thrill. Having made the artistic decision to omit interview questions in favor of narrative flow, I don’t worry that readers need cue cards. I trust that readers will appreciate what I appreciate about oral history: the idiosyncratic quirks of everyday speech as thoughtful people talk about things that matter. Subjects can trust their beautiful, one-of-a-kind voices to tell the story. The rest of us can pick up the extension and listen in.

The 20 Years, 20 Stories homepage.

Archives

CMW Celebrates 20 with Twenty Years, Twenty Stories

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This year Community MusicWorks turns 20! To mark the milestone, we are gathering the stories of 20 members of our community–musicians, students, parents, graduates and supporters. Look for new stories throughout the season.

Interviews were recorded, transcribed and edited to create personal narratives in each subject’s distinctive voice. We hope 20 Years, 20 Stories captures the many flavors and varieties of CMW experience. Join us at a concert anytime to start creating your own CMW story.

Read the interviews here.

 

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An Evening with Johnny Gandelsman in a Concert to Benefit CMW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community MusicWorks invites you to an evening with world-renowned violinist Johnny Gandelsman in a solo concert to benefit CMW.

Join us Thursday, November 9 at 7pm as Johnny Gandelsman of Silk Road and Brooklyn Rider performs the Six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin by J.S. Bach.  All proceeds of this concert will support the free music education programs at Community MusicWorks.

To hear Johnny Gandelsman play solo Bach is to hear someone with an impeccable technique and mastery of the instrument who has re-imagined these works and the gestures required to play them. Having grown up in Russia and Israel, and later studying at the Curtis Institute of Music, Johnny’s training readied him for a major international solo career. Instead, Johnny’s individual voice has led him to absorb styles of violin playing from historical recordings, Irish fiddlers, banjo virtuosos, Persian musicians and more, and he has incorporated all these elements into his sensibilities as a violinist, basically inventing his own style of violin playing.

The Six Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin are some of the deepest, most spiritually rich music for the violin (or for any instrument). They are part of every violinist’s journey throughout a lifetime–from learning the simpler movements in student years to tackling the signature epic movements at later stages, including the fugues, the Chaconne, and others. Few violinists record the entire set of six Sonatas and Partitas and fewer still perform them all at once. Johnny has done both, and will perform them as a benefit for CMW.

This is an event not to be missed!

Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 7pm
First Unitarian Church
1 Benevolent Street, Providence
$30 General Seating
$100 Preferred Seating with a pre-concert reception at 6pm
Purchase tickets here

 

 

 

October 19-21: Sonata Series and Ars Subtilior Festival features André Cormier

 

 

 

 

 

 


Composer André Cormier

Join us for a weekend focused on Composer-in-Residence André Cormier as part of the Sonata Series and the Ars Subtilior Festival. Beginning on Thursday, the Sonata Series Event at RISD will feature a performance of Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven, and events on Friday evening and an all-day event on Saturday will feature works by Cormier performed by the composer himself, special guests, the MusicWorks Collective and CMW students.

Strangely Beautiful and Slightly Twisted:
A Note from Ars Subtilior curator and CMW Resident Musician Laura Cetilia

An unprecedented event is upon us. On October 17, Acadian composer André Cormier will be arriving in Providence as composer-in-residence for the 2017 Ars Subtilior Festival at Community MusicWorks. For five days, CMW and its surroundings will be inundated with strangely beautiful and slightly twisted music from the Maritimes.

In the past, Ars Subtilior events were reserved for understated, small chamber music concerts that involved only a handful of CMW musicians with an occasional appearance by our Phase II students. This season, no holds barred.

Almost every person involved with CMW – from our Development Director to our youngest Daily Orchestra Program student – plus numerous guest performers coming all the way from California, Montreal and New York, will be included in this onslaught of experimental music.

The festival begins the day André arrives with a workshop/performance during All-Play at Calvary Baptist Church. Students of my SoundLab class will perform selections from the simple, but fruitful graphic score “Un ensemble d’actions possibles,” creating sounds on mini modular synthesizers that we’ve worked on in class in conjunction with some good old string playing. That day will also feature “25 Bars for Four Dollars” performed by Sarah Kim, Piero Guimaraes, Zan Berry, and myself on pennies.

That’s right, you heard me: pennies.

On Wednesday, Andre will visit with students of the Daily Orchestra Program, who will also be experimenting with pennies and playing through “Un ensemble d’actions possibles” while he offers composerly pointers.

On Thursday, Cormier’s “Scattershot Beethoven,” performed by Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth, and “Marie-Pierre,” performed by Andrei Baumann can be heard at the Sonata Series at RISD Museum. There will be a pre-concert reception: come by and meet André and the performers before the start of the program!

Friday will feature three different configurations of André’s chamber music: his take on a string quartet “Plaie Mortelle” (Mortal Wound), his Candle Quartet featuring our administrative staff (Katie, Kelly, Liz) and newly appointed DOP string teacher, Tessa Sacramone, all lighting and blowing out candles over the course of an hour. “Fleurs d’équinoxe,” a light and sparse circular score, will include the talents of alumnus Andrew Oung, formally local composer/performer JPA Falzone , our own Piero Guimaraes, along with members of the MusicWorks Collective.

Saturday, the final day of the festival, culminates in an extravaganza at RISD museum featuring 3 out of 10 volumes of works André composed based on the epic poem “Conversations” by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson. These are by far the lushest of Andre’s works and should not be missed. Guest artists Teodora Stepancic (pianist from New York), Andrea Young (soprano from Montreal) and Robin Streb (violist from Moncton) along with myself, will be bringing these works to life. That day will also include a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by Phase 2 students, trilling on their instruments like flying insects throughout the galleries. And finally, his string octet “Microbes” with quietly pulsating pizzicatos and meandering glissandi, played by the illustrious MusicWorks Collective.

Come. You’ll never hear anything like this ever again.

–Laura Cetilia

Festival Schedule:

Thursday, October 19 at 7pm
RISD Museum Grand Gallery
For this first event of the Sonata Series, Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth perform Andre Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven and cellist Adrienne Taylor performs Beethoven with guest pianist Andrei Baumann.
RISD Museum, Grand Gallery 
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert and Museum Admission is free

Friday, October 20 at 8pm
Sutton Space Gallery
Community MusicWorks musicians and staff perform Cormier’s Candle Quartet, Fleurs d’équinoxe, and Plaie Mortelle.
159 Sutton Street, Providence
Suggested donation $20

Saturday, October 21 11am-5pm
RISD Museum-various galleries
Saturday’s day-long event features several performances: works based on the epic poem Conversations by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson (with guest soprano Andrea Young), a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by CMW Phase II students and Microbes performed by the MusicWorks Collective.
RISD Museum
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert is free with Museum admission

Saturday’s Schedule:
11am-Noon
Conversations 1 in the Grand Gallery
Noon-1pm
Microbes in the Grand Gallery
1pm-2pm
Conversations 3 in the Grand Gallery
2pm-3pm
Libellules in Various Galleries
3pm-4pm
Conversations 5 in the Grand Gallery

 

 

 

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

This year, Community MusicWorks launches its third decade, and as we step into the next chapter of this organization’s growth our work is urgent in new ways. Twenty years ago the idea of a string quartet in a permanent residency in an urban neighborhood was a fringe idea in classical music. The notion that an urban residency would be the core of a chamber group’s life and work and that community development would be an equal ambition to playing and teaching was new territory.

Now, two decades in, conservatories are graduating students with entrepreneurship training, many with a social change focus; musicians are seeking alternate venues to the traditional concert halls, and increasingly orchestras and concert series are investing in their communities. All this points to a movement that is robust, respected, and ever growing: musicians experimenting with new forms, new career paths, and new inquiries into the place of musicianship in contemporary life.

CMW in our third decade has a new task to help grow this generation of students and musicians. With the launch of our MusicWorks Network and Fellowship, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we lead a new conversation across the country into the connections between social justice and musical practice, and share ways in which young people’s participation in programs like CMW can support their paths to and through college. We are thrilled to be bringing together former participants from both the CMW Fellowship Program and Institutes for Musicianship and Public Service, now leading programs of their own in more than 15 cities across the country and in Canada, to grow and learn together.

In our concert series, Season 21 offers adventurous programming. You’ll notice that most programs feature one or more female composers’ works, an intentional effort to align our concert programming with our commitment to equity and social justice. From the season opener to the June finale, you’ll be invited into new sonic experiences—the driving intensity of Julia Wolfe’s “Cruel Sister,” a new work by Annika Socolofsky, a festival celebrating André Cormier’s quiet masterpieces, and the premiere of a work by Rhode Island composer Forrest Larson. There are many opportunities for new sounds and experiences!

Our tradition of Bach in November continues, including the fifth year of the overnight Bach marathon. This season also features a special benefit performance by Johnny Gandelsman (of Brooklyn Rider and the Silk Road Project) of all the Bach solo works for violin—a spiritual and physical feat rarely undertaken, even by violinists of the greatest stamina.

Our December Solstice Concert returns—back by popular demand! The storytelling and musical adventure takes us again from foxes and crows to the wind and a chickadee, whose song reminds us that music can bring light and hope—a wonderful allegorical tale that reflects CMW’s mission.

One final thought to carry with you as you help launch this third decade—our work is about each person’s continual development, or what Maxine Greene would call “being on the way.” From our students to our musician-teachers, to audience members and supporters, CMW’s mission focuses on encouraging all of us to be continually on our way—toward growth, deeper awareness, and indeed transformative experiences of beauty and community.

Let’s step together into the work of this third decade!

-Sebastian Ruth, Founder & Artistic Director

Check our Season 21 calendar here.

MusicWorks Network: A New Initiative

Within the past twenty-one years, CMW has offered professional musicians opportunities to re-imagine the very foundations of a classical music career, and to think more broadly about music as a way of engaging in and with communities.

This year, CMW has the opportunity to deepen that work with the support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a new initiative, Citizens of the World: Forging Pathways to College and Beyond. This strategic initiative is designed to substantially increase the number of racially diverse, low-income young people who gain access to critical skills that promote success. This work builds on CMW’s 20-year history of developing music-based education programs designed to open new worlds of opportunity to low-income African-American and Latino youth. Out of this work has come Phase II, an approach to developing fundamental skills and supports that promote college-going, that has led 95% of CMW graduates to continue to college.

CMW will share CMW’s successful college-going model across a network of community-based music education sites. Called the MusicWorks Network, this project will link 10-15 community-based music sites serving over 650 young people and convene them in an annual Summer Institute for training, resource-sharing, and collaborative evaluation.

The first Summer Institute took place this past August 22-30 as educators and staff from ten different organizations gathered at the beautiful Rolling Ridge Conference Center in North Andover, MA. Connecting around the ways that social justice practices and technical and artistic work on string instruments can support one another, teachers and staff came from Community MusicWorks, MusiConnects (Boston, MA), MyCincinnati (Cincinnati, OH), Musica Franklin (Franklin, MA), Orchestra of St. Luke’s (New York, New York), MusicHaven (New Haven, CT), Newport Strings (Newport, RI), Sistema New Brunswick (New Brunswick, St. John, Canada), Strong Harbor Strings (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada), and Neighborhood Strings (Worcester, MA).

Participants convened for a range of workshops and trainings, including a 2-day string pedagogy workshop with renowned violinist and teacher Mimi Zweig, a poetry and social justice workshop with poet Jonathan Mendoza, a workshop on anti-racist organizational frameworks with trainer and activist Adeola Oredola, and discussions and reflection around the creative synergy between string pedagogy and social justice teachings.

The Institute was designed and facilitated by Sebastian Ruth and Chloe Kline with the new MusicWorks Network staff: MusicWorks Network Director Jori Ketten and MusicWorks Network Fellow Andrew Oung. Part of the initiative, the MusicWorks Network Fellowship is a one-year position for alumni of CMW’s youth program or graduates of CMW’s two-year Fellowship Program to contribute to the MusicWorks Network. Andrew is our first alumni hire at CMW.

 

Revolution of Values

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise.

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:
[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!
–Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director

Revolution of Values: A Day of Creative Action

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise. 

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:

[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!

-Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director 

Art in a Time of Rage

As CMW musicians have been working over the past several weeks to articulate our response as artists and citizens to the many events of the new administration, our discussions have toggled between the actions we need to take raising our voices as engaged citizens and making music.

New Yorker music critic Alex Ross, who once profiled CMW, takes on this question in his post about how musicians make music in a time of rage. Ross quotes Lucy Caplan*, whose essay about CMW’s 2016 Art and Social Action symposium is The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts.

*A fun fact: Lucy worked with CMW’s Sebastian Ruth as a student in his Yale class, and then as a TA in his Music and Social Action Coursera class. Read more about Lucy here and here.

 

Links:
Alex Ross: Making Art in a Time of Rage
Alex Ross: Learning the Score (CMW Profile in the New Yorker)
Lucy Caplan: The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts
Sebastian Ruth: Music and Social Action (Coursera)

 

 

 

Talking and Listening: Behind the Scenes of 20 Years, 20 Stories

 

 

 

 

 

Linda Daniels is a writer, editor, cellist, CMW parent, former CMW Board member and expert eavesdropper. She helms the 20 Years, 20 Stories project and this is her story.

I’ve been an eavesdropper since childhood. My mother liked to pour herself a Royal Crown cola in the late afternoon, park herself on the couch and telephone her mother, which was my cue to c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y raise the extension handset upstairs. Usually, they discussed mundane matters:  pork chops versus chicken, how this season’s fashions were so unflattering and, now and then, family gossip. The topics were almost beside the point, except for the family gossip, which is why I eavesdropped in the first place. But I was also intrigued by the mysterious current of poetry running beneath even the most routine remarks. I loved the give and take of conversation, the sighs and pauses, the sound of my mother’s sympathetic tsk-tsk’s and my grandmother’s pretty brogue. I almost always got busted and was scolded, but not seriously enough to deter me from future attempts. Talking was as close as my family got to making music. No one sang or played an instrument, and my relatives just embarrassed themselves trying to clap along to music, but man, could these people talk. Listeners, even illicit ones, had a role to play, too. We completed the performance circle.

In college, Studs Terkel’s oral history Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do shaped my senior year thesis. I made the leap from habitual eavesdropper to scholarly interviewer and collected the oral histories of women who came of age during the 1920s. The best parts of the resulting 200-plus-page door-stopper were their reminiscences. After college, I became a reporter: more listening, more writing. Even after I quit newspapers and turned to other pursuits, I never lost the eavesdropping habit. My husband recognizes the faraway look that crosses my face when we’re in a public space and I hear something that bears further investigation, convinced, of course, that no one can tell what I’m up to. After 27 years, he also knows that whatever he and I were talking about will have to wait. More recently, I’ve been inspired by writer Svetlana Alexievich, who won a Nobel for Secondhand Time, her beautifully rendered oral history of post-Soviet Russians.

In September, I began an exciting new listening and writing project in connection with Community MusicWorks’ 20th anniversary: collecting 20 representative stories of CMW musicians, staff, students, parents and supporters. I’ve been expertly assisted by CMW fellow Josie Davis, who interviewed three people, and Communications Manager Liz Cox, who proofreads the stories and designs the online content. (Read the stories here.)

It hasn’t been difficult to get people to open up. I’ve been a familiar face at CMW since my youngest had his first cello lesson here ten years ago. I’ve exchanged knowing glances with other parents when a beginner nails “Twinkle” and held a collective breath during the dying notes of a Beethoven quartet performed by the pros. I’ve square-danced to fiddle tunes and attempted, much less successfully, the salsa.  I’ve sung rounds and set up folding chairs; fretted over budgets and strategic goals; eased my car past side-view mirrors on snow-bound Messer Street; knitted for newborns; and eaten far too much pizza.

Since people know me better as an at-large mom than as an interviewer and writer, some of my questions may discomfit. Recently, a student I was interviewing put up a hand and blurted, “That’s a weird question!” Um, ok. But can you answer it anyway? I remain confident that what I’m curious about others are too. She answered in good faith, trusting that I have her back. I am honored by that trust. You readers should be also. When people talk honestly they make themselves vulnerable. They don’t want to be misconstrued as they describe emotions and realizations that can’t be summarized by facts alone. This is especially true of CMW’s staff, who are talking about their life’s work.

It’s why I take the final step of the oral history process so seriously: converting 8-20 pages of interview transcript to a narrative that honors the speaker’s intentions, captures history while it’s still occurring, and compels readers. It’s a messy process. No matter how cleverly I order the questions and pursue answers during an interview, the talk meanders, as talk will. Even the most prepared and polished speakers wander off topic and speak colloquially, thank goodness. They are thinking out loud, which is where the music happens. It’s the difference between watching an official read a prepared statement from behind a podium and hearing him speak spontaneously from the heart when a reporter surprises him off-stage by asking exactly the right question at the right moment. I’m going for the latter.

Some “20 Years, 20 Stories” subjects have been flummoxed by the difference between the hour-plus interview they remember and the 2-5 page story I produce, having edited and condensed our conversation to a fare-thee-well, absenting my questions along the way. (Available here, if you’re curious.) They worry about being misperceived and about sounding too casual. They worry that they have said too much or too little. It is scary to see your constantly morphing thoughts marching in regimental black lines across white space. Where are the raised eyebrows signaling sincerity or the smile signaling warmth? Where are the tears that welled up when recalling a triumphant moment with a challenging student? Where’s a second or third chance to rephrase? To be more thoughtful? To explain more fully?

Oral history and chamber music have much in common. Both art forms strive to capture human experience through artifice and collaborative effort, and both are very much of the moment. Therein lies the thrill. Having made the artistic decision to omit interview questions in favor of narrative flow, I don’t worry that readers need cue cards. I trust that readers will appreciate what I appreciate about oral history: the idiosyncratic quirks of everyday speech as thoughtful people talk about things that matter. Subjects can trust their beautiful, one-of-a-kind voices to tell the story. The rest of us can pick up the extension and listen in.

The 20 Years, 20 Stories homepage.

Archives

CMW Celebrates 20 with Twenty Years, Twenty Stories

cmw20_header

 

 

 

This year Community MusicWorks turns 20! To mark the milestone, we are gathering the stories of 20 members of our community–musicians, students, parents, graduates and supporters. Look for new stories throughout the season.

Interviews were recorded, transcribed and edited to create personal narratives in each subject’s distinctive voice. We hope 20 Years, 20 Stories captures the many flavors and varieties of CMW experience. Join us at a concert anytime to start creating your own CMW story.

Read the interviews here.

 

community-day-cake

 

An Evening with Johnny Gandelsman in a Concert to Benefit CMW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community MusicWorks invites you to an evening with world-renowned violinist Johnny Gandelsman in a solo concert to benefit CMW.

Join us Thursday, November 9 at 7pm as Johnny Gandelsman of Silk Road and Brooklyn Rider performs the Six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin by J.S. Bach.  All proceeds of this concert will support the free music education programs at Community MusicWorks.

To hear Johnny Gandelsman play solo Bach is to hear someone with an impeccable technique and mastery of the instrument who has re-imagined these works and the gestures required to play them. Having grown up in Russia and Israel, and later studying at the Curtis Institute of Music, Johnny’s training readied him for a major international solo career. Instead, Johnny’s individual voice has led him to absorb styles of violin playing from historical recordings, Irish fiddlers, banjo virtuosos, Persian musicians and more, and he has incorporated all these elements into his sensibilities as a violinist, basically inventing his own style of violin playing.

The Six Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin are some of the deepest, most spiritually rich music for the violin (or for any instrument). They are part of every violinist’s journey throughout a lifetime–from learning the simpler movements in student years to tackling the signature epic movements at later stages, including the fugues, the Chaconne, and others. Few violinists record the entire set of six Sonatas and Partitas and fewer still perform them all at once. Johnny has done both, and will perform them as a benefit for CMW.

This is an event not to be missed!

Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 7pm
First Unitarian Church
1 Benevolent Street, Providence
$30 General Seating
$100 Preferred Seating with a pre-concert reception at 6pm
Purchase tickets here

 

 

 

October 19-21: Sonata Series and Ars Subtilior Festival features André Cormier

 

 

 

 

 

 


Composer André Cormier

Join us for a weekend focused on Composer-in-Residence André Cormier as part of the Sonata Series and the Ars Subtilior Festival. Beginning on Thursday, the Sonata Series Event at RISD will feature a performance of Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven, and events on Friday evening and an all-day event on Saturday will feature works by Cormier performed by the composer himself, special guests, the MusicWorks Collective and CMW students.

Strangely Beautiful and Slightly Twisted:
A Note from Ars Subtilior curator and CMW Resident Musician Laura Cetilia

An unprecedented event is upon us. On October 17, Acadian composer André Cormier will be arriving in Providence as composer-in-residence for the 2017 Ars Subtilior Festival at Community MusicWorks. For five days, CMW and its surroundings will be inundated with strangely beautiful and slightly twisted music from the Maritimes.

In the past, Ars Subtilior events were reserved for understated, small chamber music concerts that involved only a handful of CMW musicians with an occasional appearance by our Phase II students. This season, no holds barred.

Almost every person involved with CMW – from our Development Director to our youngest Daily Orchestra Program student – plus numerous guest performers coming all the way from California, Montreal and New York, will be included in this onslaught of experimental music.

The festival begins the day André arrives with a workshop/performance during All-Play at Calvary Baptist Church. Students of my SoundLab class will perform selections from the simple, but fruitful graphic score “Un ensemble d’actions possibles,” creating sounds on mini modular synthesizers that we’ve worked on in class in conjunction with some good old string playing. That day will also feature “25 Bars for Four Dollars” performed by Sarah Kim, Piero Guimaraes, Zan Berry, and myself on pennies.

That’s right, you heard me: pennies.

On Wednesday, Andre will visit with students of the Daily Orchestra Program, who will also be experimenting with pennies and playing through “Un ensemble d’actions possibles” while he offers composerly pointers.

On Thursday, Cormier’s “Scattershot Beethoven,” performed by Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth, and “Marie-Pierre,” performed by Andrei Baumann can be heard at the Sonata Series at RISD Museum. There will be a pre-concert reception: come by and meet André and the performers before the start of the program!

Friday will feature three different configurations of André’s chamber music: his take on a string quartet “Plaie Mortelle” (Mortal Wound), his Candle Quartet featuring our administrative staff (Katie, Kelly, Liz) and newly appointed DOP string teacher, Tessa Sacramone, all lighting and blowing out candles over the course of an hour. “Fleurs d’équinoxe,” a light and sparse circular score, will include the talents of alumnus Andrew Oung, formally local composer/performer JPA Falzone , our own Piero Guimaraes, along with members of the MusicWorks Collective.

Saturday, the final day of the festival, culminates in an extravaganza at RISD museum featuring 3 out of 10 volumes of works André composed based on the epic poem “Conversations” by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson. These are by far the lushest of Andre’s works and should not be missed. Guest artists Teodora Stepancic (pianist from New York), Andrea Young (soprano from Montreal) and Robin Streb (violist from Moncton) along with myself, will be bringing these works to life. That day will also include a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by Phase 2 students, trilling on their instruments like flying insects throughout the galleries. And finally, his string octet “Microbes” with quietly pulsating pizzicatos and meandering glissandi, played by the illustrious MusicWorks Collective.

Come. You’ll never hear anything like this ever again.

–Laura Cetilia

Festival Schedule:

Thursday, October 19 at 7pm
RISD Museum Grand Gallery
For this first event of the Sonata Series, Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth perform Andre Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven and cellist Adrienne Taylor performs Beethoven with guest pianist Andrei Baumann.
RISD Museum, Grand Gallery 
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert and Museum Admission is free

Friday, October 20 at 8pm
Sutton Space Gallery
Community MusicWorks musicians and staff perform Cormier’s Candle Quartet, Fleurs d’équinoxe, and Plaie Mortelle.
159 Sutton Street, Providence
Suggested donation $20

Saturday, October 21 11am-5pm
RISD Museum-various galleries
Saturday’s day-long event features several performances: works based on the epic poem Conversations by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson (with guest soprano Andrea Young), a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by CMW Phase II students and Microbes performed by the MusicWorks Collective.
RISD Museum
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert is free with Museum admission

Saturday’s Schedule:
11am-Noon
Conversations 1 in the Grand Gallery
Noon-1pm
Microbes in the Grand Gallery
1pm-2pm
Conversations 3 in the Grand Gallery
2pm-3pm
Libellules in Various Galleries
3pm-4pm
Conversations 5 in the Grand Gallery

 

 

 

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

This year, Community MusicWorks launches its third decade, and as we step into the next chapter of this organization’s growth our work is urgent in new ways. Twenty years ago the idea of a string quartet in a permanent residency in an urban neighborhood was a fringe idea in classical music. The notion that an urban residency would be the core of a chamber group’s life and work and that community development would be an equal ambition to playing and teaching was new territory.

Now, two decades in, conservatories are graduating students with entrepreneurship training, many with a social change focus; musicians are seeking alternate venues to the traditional concert halls, and increasingly orchestras and concert series are investing in their communities. All this points to a movement that is robust, respected, and ever growing: musicians experimenting with new forms, new career paths, and new inquiries into the place of musicianship in contemporary life.

CMW in our third decade has a new task to help grow this generation of students and musicians. With the launch of our MusicWorks Network and Fellowship, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we lead a new conversation across the country into the connections between social justice and musical practice, and share ways in which young people’s participation in programs like CMW can support their paths to and through college. We are thrilled to be bringing together former participants from both the CMW Fellowship Program and Institutes for Musicianship and Public Service, now leading programs of their own in more than 15 cities across the country and in Canada, to grow and learn together.

In our concert series, Season 21 offers adventurous programming. You’ll notice that most programs feature one or more female composers’ works, an intentional effort to align our concert programming with our commitment to equity and social justice. From the season opener to the June finale, you’ll be invited into new sonic experiences—the driving intensity of Julia Wolfe’s “Cruel Sister,” a new work by Annika Socolofsky, a festival celebrating André Cormier’s quiet masterpieces, and the premiere of a work by Rhode Island composer Forrest Larson. There are many opportunities for new sounds and experiences!

Our tradition of Bach in November continues, including the fifth year of the overnight Bach marathon. This season also features a special benefit performance by Johnny Gandelsman (of Brooklyn Rider and the Silk Road Project) of all the Bach solo works for violin—a spiritual and physical feat rarely undertaken, even by violinists of the greatest stamina.

Our December Solstice Concert returns—back by popular demand! The storytelling and musical adventure takes us again from foxes and crows to the wind and a chickadee, whose song reminds us that music can bring light and hope—a wonderful allegorical tale that reflects CMW’s mission.

One final thought to carry with you as you help launch this third decade—our work is about each person’s continual development, or what Maxine Greene would call “being on the way.” From our students to our musician-teachers, to audience members and supporters, CMW’s mission focuses on encouraging all of us to be continually on our way—toward growth, deeper awareness, and indeed transformative experiences of beauty and community.

Let’s step together into the work of this third decade!

-Sebastian Ruth, Founder & Artistic Director

Check our Season 21 calendar here.

MusicWorks Network: A New Initiative

Within the past twenty-one years, CMW has offered professional musicians opportunities to re-imagine the very foundations of a classical music career, and to think more broadly about music as a way of engaging in and with communities.

This year, CMW has the opportunity to deepen that work with the support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a new initiative, Citizens of the World: Forging Pathways to College and Beyond. This strategic initiative is designed to substantially increase the number of racially diverse, low-income young people who gain access to critical skills that promote success. This work builds on CMW’s 20-year history of developing music-based education programs designed to open new worlds of opportunity to low-income African-American and Latino youth. Out of this work has come Phase II, an approach to developing fundamental skills and supports that promote college-going, that has led 95% of CMW graduates to continue to college.

CMW will share CMW’s successful college-going model across a network of community-based music education sites. Called the MusicWorks Network, this project will link 10-15 community-based music sites serving over 650 young people and convene them in an annual Summer Institute for training, resource-sharing, and collaborative evaluation.

The first Summer Institute took place this past August 22-30 as educators and staff from ten different organizations gathered at the beautiful Rolling Ridge Conference Center in North Andover, MA. Connecting around the ways that social justice practices and technical and artistic work on string instruments can support one another, teachers and staff came from Community MusicWorks, MusiConnects (Boston, MA), MyCincinnati (Cincinnati, OH), Musica Franklin (Franklin, MA), Orchestra of St. Luke’s (New York, New York), MusicHaven (New Haven, CT), Newport Strings (Newport, RI), Sistema New Brunswick (New Brunswick, St. John, Canada), Strong Harbor Strings (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada), and Neighborhood Strings (Worcester, MA).

Participants convened for a range of workshops and trainings, including a 2-day string pedagogy workshop with renowned violinist and teacher Mimi Zweig, a poetry and social justice workshop with poet Jonathan Mendoza, a workshop on anti-racist organizational frameworks with trainer and activist Adeola Oredola, and discussions and reflection around the creative synergy between string pedagogy and social justice teachings.

The Institute was designed and facilitated by Sebastian Ruth and Chloe Kline with the new MusicWorks Network staff: MusicWorks Network Director Jori Ketten and MusicWorks Network Fellow Andrew Oung. Part of the initiative, the MusicWorks Network Fellowship is a one-year position for alumni of CMW’s youth program or graduates of CMW’s two-year Fellowship Program to contribute to the MusicWorks Network. Andrew is our first alumni hire at CMW.

 

Revolution of Values

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise.

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:
[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!
–Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director

Revolution of Values: A Day of Creative Action

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise. 

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:

[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!

-Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director 

Art in a Time of Rage

As CMW musicians have been working over the past several weeks to articulate our response as artists and citizens to the many events of the new administration, our discussions have toggled between the actions we need to take raising our voices as engaged citizens and making music.

New Yorker music critic Alex Ross, who once profiled CMW, takes on this question in his post about how musicians make music in a time of rage. Ross quotes Lucy Caplan*, whose essay about CMW’s 2016 Art and Social Action symposium is The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts.

*A fun fact: Lucy worked with CMW’s Sebastian Ruth as a student in his Yale class, and then as a TA in his Music and Social Action Coursera class. Read more about Lucy here and here.

 

Links:
Alex Ross: Making Art in a Time of Rage
Alex Ross: Learning the Score (CMW Profile in the New Yorker)
Lucy Caplan: The World You Want to Live In: New Paradigms for the Arts
Sebastian Ruth: Music and Social Action (Coursera)

 

 

 

Talking and Listening: Behind the Scenes of 20 Years, 20 Stories

 

 

 

 

 

Linda Daniels is a writer, editor, cellist, CMW parent, former CMW Board member and expert eavesdropper. She helms the 20 Years, 20 Stories project and this is her story.

I’ve been an eavesdropper since childhood. My mother liked to pour herself a Royal Crown cola in the late afternoon, park herself on the couch and telephone her mother, which was my cue to c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y raise the extension handset upstairs. Usually, they discussed mundane matters:  pork chops versus chicken, how this season’s fashions were so unflattering and, now and then, family gossip. The topics were almost beside the point, except for the family gossip, which is why I eavesdropped in the first place. But I was also intrigued by the mysterious current of poetry running beneath even the most routine remarks. I loved the give and take of conversation, the sighs and pauses, the sound of my mother’s sympathetic tsk-tsk’s and my grandmother’s pretty brogue. I almost always got busted and was scolded, but not seriously enough to deter me from future attempts. Talking was as close as my family got to making music. No one sang or played an instrument, and my relatives just embarrassed themselves trying to clap along to music, but man, could these people talk. Listeners, even illicit ones, had a role to play, too. We completed the performance circle.

In college, Studs Terkel’s oral history Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do shaped my senior year thesis. I made the leap from habitual eavesdropper to scholarly interviewer and collected the oral histories of women who came of age during the 1920s. The best parts of the resulting 200-plus-page door-stopper were their reminiscences. After college, I became a reporter: more listening, more writing. Even after I quit newspapers and turned to other pursuits, I never lost the eavesdropping habit. My husband recognizes the faraway look that crosses my face when we’re in a public space and I hear something that bears further investigation, convinced, of course, that no one can tell what I’m up to. After 27 years, he also knows that whatever he and I were talking about will have to wait. More recently, I’ve been inspired by writer Svetlana Alexievich, who won a Nobel for Secondhand Time, her beautifully rendered oral history of post-Soviet Russians.

In September, I began an exciting new listening and writing project in connection with Community MusicWorks’ 20th anniversary: collecting 20 representative stories of CMW musicians, staff, students, parents and supporters. I’ve been expertly assisted by CMW fellow Josie Davis, who interviewed three people, and Communications Manager Liz Cox, who proofreads the stories and designs the online content. (Read the stories here.)

It hasn’t been difficult to get people to open up. I’ve been a familiar face at CMW since my youngest had his first cello lesson here ten years ago. I’ve exchanged knowing glances with other parents when a beginner nails “Twinkle” and held a collective breath during the dying notes of a Beethoven quartet performed by the pros. I’ve square-danced to fiddle tunes and attempted, much less successfully, the salsa.  I’ve sung rounds and set up folding chairs; fretted over budgets and strategic goals; eased my car past side-view mirrors on snow-bound Messer Street; knitted for newborns; and eaten far too much pizza.

Since people know me better as an at-large mom than as an interviewer and writer, some of my questions may discomfit. Recently, a student I was interviewing put up a hand and blurted, “That’s a weird question!” Um, ok. But can you answer it anyway? I remain confident that what I’m curious about others are too. She answered in good faith, trusting that I have her back. I am honored by that trust. You readers should be also. When people talk honestly they make themselves vulnerable. They don’t want to be misconstrued as they describe emotions and realizations that can’t be summarized by facts alone. This is especially true of CMW’s staff, who are talking about their life’s work.

It’s why I take the final step of the oral history process so seriously: converting 8-20 pages of interview transcript to a narrative that honors the speaker’s intentions, captures history while it’s still occurring, and compels readers. It’s a messy process. No matter how cleverly I order the questions and pursue answers during an interview, the talk meanders, as talk will. Even the most prepared and polished speakers wander off topic and speak colloquially, thank goodness. They are thinking out loud, which is where the music happens. It’s the difference between watching an official read a prepared statement from behind a podium and hearing him speak spontaneously from the heart when a reporter surprises him off-stage by asking exactly the right question at the right moment. I’m going for the latter.

Some “20 Years, 20 Stories” subjects have been flummoxed by the difference between the hour-plus interview they remember and the 2-5 page story I produce, having edited and condensed our conversation to a fare-thee-well, absenting my questions along the way. (Available here, if you’re curious.) They worry about being misperceived and about sounding too casual. They worry that they have said too much or too little. It is scary to see your constantly morphing thoughts marching in regimental black lines across white space. Where are the raised eyebrows signaling sincerity or the smile signaling warmth? Where are the tears that welled up when recalling a triumphant moment with a challenging student? Where’s a second or third chance to rephrase? To be more thoughtful? To explain more fully?

Oral history and chamber music have much in common. Both art forms strive to capture human experience through artifice and collaborative effort, and both are very much of the moment. Therein lies the thrill. Having made the artistic decision to omit interview questions in favor of narrative flow, I don’t worry that readers need cue cards. I trust that readers will appreciate what I appreciate about oral history: the idiosyncratic quirks of everyday speech as thoughtful people talk about things that matter. Subjects can trust their beautiful, one-of-a-kind voices to tell the story. The rest of us can pick up the extension and listen in.

The 20 Years, 20 Stories homepage.

Archives

CMW Celebrates 20 with Twenty Years, Twenty Stories

cmw20_header

 

 

 

This year Community MusicWorks turns 20! To mark the milestone, we are gathering the stories of 20 members of our community–musicians, students, parents, graduates and supporters. Look for new stories throughout the season.

Interviews were recorded, transcribed and edited to create personal narratives in each subject’s distinctive voice. We hope 20 Years, 20 Stories captures the many flavors and varieties of CMW experience. Join us at a concert anytime to start creating your own CMW story.

Read the interviews here.

 

community-day-cake

 

An Evening with Johnny Gandelsman in a Concert to Benefit CMW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community MusicWorks invites you to an evening with world-renowned violinist Johnny Gandelsman in a solo concert to benefit CMW.

Join us Thursday, November 9 at 7pm as Johnny Gandelsman of Silk Road and Brooklyn Rider performs the Six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin by J.S. Bach.  All proceeds of this concert will support the free music education programs at Community MusicWorks.

To hear Johnny Gandelsman play solo Bach is to hear someone with an impeccable technique and mastery of the instrument who has re-imagined these works and the gestures required to play them. Having grown up in Russia and Israel, and later studying at the Curtis Institute of Music, Johnny’s training readied him for a major international solo career. Instead, Johnny’s individual voice has led him to absorb styles of violin playing from historical recordings, Irish fiddlers, banjo virtuosos, Persian musicians and more, and he has incorporated all these elements into his sensibilities as a violinist, basically inventing his own style of violin playing.

The Six Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin are some of the deepest, most spiritually rich music for the violin (or for any instrument). They are part of every violinist’s journey throughout a lifetime–from learning the simpler movements in student years to tackling the signature epic movements at later stages, including the fugues, the Chaconne, and others. Few violinists record the entire set of six Sonatas and Partitas and fewer still perform them all at once. Johnny has done both, and will perform them as a benefit for CMW.

This is an event not to be missed!

Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 7pm
First Unitarian Church
1 Benevolent Street, Providence
$30 General Seating
$100 Preferred Seating with a pre-concert reception at 6pm
Purchase tickets here

 

 

 

October 19-21: Sonata Series and Ars Subtilior Festival features André Cormier

 

 

 

 

 

 


Composer André Cormier

Join us for a weekend focused on Composer-in-Residence André Cormier as part of the Sonata Series and the Ars Subtilior Festival. Beginning on Thursday, the Sonata Series Event at RISD will feature a performance of Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven, and events on Friday evening and an all-day event on Saturday will feature works by Cormier performed by the composer himself, special guests, the MusicWorks Collective and CMW students.

Strangely Beautiful and Slightly Twisted:
A Note from Ars Subtilior curator and CMW Resident Musician Laura Cetilia

An unprecedented event is upon us. On October 17, Acadian composer André Cormier will be arriving in Providence as composer-in-residence for the 2017 Ars Subtilior Festival at Community MusicWorks. For five days, CMW and its surroundings will be inundated with strangely beautiful and slightly twisted music from the Maritimes.

In the past, Ars Subtilior events were reserved for understated, small chamber music concerts that involved only a handful of CMW musicians with an occasional appearance by our Phase II students. This season, no holds barred.

Almost every person involved with CMW – from our Development Director to our youngest Daily Orchestra Program student – plus numerous guest performers coming all the way from California, Montreal and New York, will be included in this onslaught of experimental music.

The festival begins the day André arrives with a workshop/performance during All-Play at Calvary Baptist Church. Students of my SoundLab class will perform selections from the simple, but fruitful graphic score “Un ensemble d’actions possibles,” creating sounds on mini modular synthesizers that we’ve worked on in class in conjunction with some good old string playing. That day will also feature “25 Bars for Four Dollars” performed by Sarah Kim, Piero Guimaraes, Zan Berry, and myself on pennies.

That’s right, you heard me: pennies.

On Wednesday, Andre will visit with students of the Daily Orchestra Program, who will also be experimenting with pennies and playing through “Un ensemble d’actions possibles” while he offers composerly pointers.

On Thursday, Cormier’s “Scattershot Beethoven,” performed by Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth, and “Marie-Pierre,” performed by Andrei Baumann can be heard at the Sonata Series at RISD Museum. There will be a pre-concert reception: come by and meet André and the performers before the start of the program!

Friday will feature three different configurations of André’s chamber music: his take on a string quartet “Plaie Mortelle” (Mortal Wound), his Candle Quartet featuring our administrative staff (Katie, Kelly, Liz) and newly appointed DOP string teacher, Tessa Sacramone, all lighting and blowing out candles over the course of an hour. “Fleurs d’équinoxe,” a light and sparse circular score, will include the talents of alumnus Andrew Oung, formally local composer/performer JPA Falzone , our own Piero Guimaraes, along with members of the MusicWorks Collective.

Saturday, the final day of the festival, culminates in an extravaganza at RISD museum featuring 3 out of 10 volumes of works André composed based on the epic poem “Conversations” by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson. These are by far the lushest of Andre’s works and should not be missed. Guest artists Teodora Stepancic (pianist from New York), Andrea Young (soprano from Montreal) and Robin Streb (violist from Moncton) along with myself, will be bringing these works to life. That day will also include a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by Phase 2 students, trilling on their instruments like flying insects throughout the galleries. And finally, his string octet “Microbes” with quietly pulsating pizzicatos and meandering glissandi, played by the illustrious MusicWorks Collective.

Come. You’ll never hear anything like this ever again.

–Laura Cetilia

Festival Schedule:

Thursday, October 19 at 7pm
RISD Museum Grand Gallery
For this first event of the Sonata Series, Minna Choi and Sebastian Ruth perform Andre Cormier’s Scattershot Beethoven and cellist Adrienne Taylor performs Beethoven with guest pianist Andrei Baumann.
RISD Museum, Grand Gallery 
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert and Museum Admission is free

Friday, October 20 at 8pm
Sutton Space Gallery
Community MusicWorks musicians and staff perform Cormier’s Candle Quartet, Fleurs d’équinoxe, and Plaie Mortelle.
159 Sutton Street, Providence
Suggested donation $20

Saturday, October 21 11am-5pm
RISD Museum-various galleries
Saturday’s day-long event features several performances: works based on the epic poem Conversations by Acadian writer Herménégilde Chiasson (with guest soprano Andrea Young), a performance of Libellules (Dragonflies) by CMW Phase II students and Microbes performed by the MusicWorks Collective.
RISD Museum
20 North Main Street, Providence
Concert is free with Museum admission

Saturday’s Schedule:
11am-Noon
Conversations 1 in the Grand Gallery
Noon-1pm
Microbes in the Grand Gallery
1pm-2pm
Conversations 3 in the Grand Gallery
2pm-3pm
Libellules in Various Galleries
3pm-4pm
Conversations 5 in the Grand Gallery

 

 

 

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

 

On Our Way: Welcome to Season 21!

This year, Community MusicWorks launches its third decade, and as we step into the next chapter of this organization’s growth our work is urgent in new ways. Twenty years ago the idea of a string quartet in a permanent residency in an urban neighborhood was a fringe idea in classical music. The notion that an urban residency would be the core of a chamber group’s life and work and that community development would be an equal ambition to playing and teaching was new territory.

Now, two decades in, conservatories are graduating students with entrepreneurship training, many with a social change focus; musicians are seeking alternate venues to the traditional concert halls, and increasingly orchestras and concert series are investing in their communities. All this points to a movement that is robust, respected, and ever growing: musicians experimenting with new forms, new career paths, and new inquiries into the place of musicianship in contemporary life.

CMW in our third decade has a new task to help grow this generation of students and musicians. With the launch of our MusicWorks Network and Fellowship, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we lead a new conversation across the country into the connections between social justice and musical practice, and share ways in which young people’s participation in programs like CMW can support their paths to and through college. We are thrilled to be bringing together former participants from both the CMW Fellowship Program and Institutes for Musicianship and Public Service, now leading programs of their own in more than 15 cities across the country and in Canada, to grow and learn together.

In our concert series, Season 21 offers adventurous programming. You’ll notice that most programs feature one or more female composers’ works, an intentional effort to align our concert programming with our commitment to equity and social justice. From the season opener to the June finale, you’ll be invited into new sonic experiences—the driving intensity of Julia Wolfe’s “Cruel Sister,” a new work by Annika Socolofsky, a festival celebrating André Cormier’s quiet masterpieces, and the premiere of a work by Rhode Island composer Forrest Larson. There are many opportunities for new sounds and experiences!

Our tradition of Bach in November continues, including the fifth year of the overnight Bach marathon. This season also features a special benefit performance by Johnny Gandelsman (of Brooklyn Rider and the Silk Road Project) of all the Bach solo works for violin—a spiritual and physical feat rarely undertaken, even by violinists of the greatest stamina.

Our December Solstice Concert returns—back by popular demand! The storytelling and musical adventure takes us again from foxes and crows to the wind and a chickadee, whose song reminds us that music can bring light and hope—a wonderful allegorical tale that reflects CMW’s mission.

One final thought to carry with you as you help launch this third decade—our work is about each person’s continual development, or what Maxine Greene would call “being on the way.” From our students to our musician-teachers, to audience members and supporters, CMW’s mission focuses on encouraging all of us to be continually on our way—toward growth, deeper awareness, and indeed transformative experiences of beauty and community.

Let’s step together into the work of this third decade!

-Sebastian Ruth, Founder & Artistic Director

Check our Season 21 calendar here.

MusicWorks Network: A New Initiative

Within the past twenty-one years, CMW has offered professional musicians opportunities to re-imagine the very foundations of a classical music career, and to think more broadly about music as a way of engaging in and with communities.

This year, CMW has the opportunity to deepen that work with the support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a new initiative, Citizens of the World: Forging Pathways to College and Beyond. This strategic initiative is designed to substantially increase the number of racially diverse, low-income young people who gain access to critical skills that promote success. This work builds on CMW’s 20-year history of developing music-based education programs designed to open new worlds of opportunity to low-income African-American and Latino youth. Out of this work has come Phase II, an approach to developing fundamental skills and supports that promote college-going, that has led 95% of CMW graduates to continue to college.

CMW will share CMW’s successful college-going model across a network of community-based music education sites. Called the MusicWorks Network, this project will link 10-15 community-based music sites serving over 650 young people and convene them in an annual Summer Institute for training, resource-sharing, and collaborative evaluation.

The first Summer Institute took place this past August 22-30 as educators and staff from ten different organizations gathered at the beautiful Rolling Ridge Conference Center in North Andover, MA. Connecting around the ways that social justice practices and technical and artistic work on string instruments can support one another, teachers and staff came from Community MusicWorks, MusiConnects (Boston, MA), MyCincinnati (Cincinnati, OH), Musica Franklin (Franklin, MA), Orchestra of St. Luke’s (New York, New York), MusicHaven (New Haven, CT), Newport Strings (Newport, RI), Sistema New Brunswick (New Brunswick, St. John, Canada), Strong Harbor Strings (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada), and Neighborhood Strings (Worcester, MA).

Participants convened for a range of workshops and trainings, including a 2-day string pedagogy workshop with renowned violinist and teacher Mimi Zweig, a poetry and social justice workshop with poet Jonathan Mendoza, a workshop on anti-racist organizational frameworks with trainer and activist Adeola Oredola, and discussions and reflection around the creative synergy between string pedagogy and social justice teachings.

The Institute was designed and facilitated by Sebastian Ruth and Chloe Kline with the new MusicWorks Network staff: MusicWorks Network Director Jori Ketten and MusicWorks Network Fellow Andrew Oung. Part of the initiative, the MusicWorks Network Fellowship is a one-year position for alumni of CMW’s youth program or graduates of CMW’s two-year Fellowship Program to contribute to the MusicWorks Network. Andrew is our first alumni hire at CMW.

 

Revolution of Values

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise.

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:
[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!
–Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director

Revolution of Values: A Day of Creative Action

I am honored to be a part of the US Department of Arts and Culture, an organization that in all its work practices the practice of social imagination–imagining the world as it could be otherwise. 

As the “Secretary of Music and Society” on the U.S. Department of Arts and Cultural National Cabinet, I’m delighted to help launch #RevolutionOfValues, a day of creative action on April 4th, 2017, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This is the most-quoted part of the Riverside Speech:

[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

Fifty years later, to walk in his footsteps, to give voice once again to his powerful words, and to kick off a year of efforts by many organizations around the U.S. to remind people of Dr. King’s real message and unfinished work, the USDAC and partners are sponsoring #RevolutionOfValues. Any individual or organization can take part by hosting an event and/or sharing images or texts via social media inspired by Dr. King’s historic speech. Detailed instructions and resources are available in the free #RevolutionOfValues Toolkit. Download here and join us!

-Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artist