Sunday, April 9: The Fred Kelley Scholarship Concert

















Dear friends,

One sure sign of spring is nearly here! Join us for the 10th Annual Fred Kelley Memorial Scholarship Concert on Sunday, April 9th at 2pm at Bell Street Chapel in the West End of Providence.

This year, the Hightower Trio, featuring Jesse Holstein, Jeff Louie and Heath Marlow, will perform a three-piece program including a late piano trio by Haydn, No. 44 in E major, a single movement piano trio by the great living American composer Joan Tower: “Trio Cavany” and the optimistic Beethoven Trio, op. 70 no. 2, (the so-called “Post-Ghost” Trio).

As many of you know, the concert is given in memory of Fred Kelley, a chamber music lover and great friend to CMW. All proceeds support sending CMW students to the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music, where Fred’s son Michael is in residence with the Apple Hill String Quartet.

The following is a list all of the CMW students who have been able to attend summer sessions at Apple Hill through the support of the Fred Kelley Fund and The Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music:

2009: Luis Ortiz, Sidney Argueta, Joshua Rodriguez
2010: Natasha Rosario, Luis Ortiz, Alexis Nelson
2011: Alexis Nelson, Jaxine Wolfe
2012: Andrew Oung, Alexis Nelson, Natasha Rosario, Jaxine Wolfe
2013: August Packard, Jaxine Wolfe Andrew Oung, Alondra Rivera, Liam Hopkins, Jessenia Grijalva (CW*: Alexis Nelson)
2014: Audreys Rosario, Heather Argueta, Alana Perez, Ruby Espinosa, Jessenia Grijalva, Andrew Oung, Alondra Rivera (CW*: Alexis Nelson)
2015: Malachy Hopkins, Jesse Woodbury, Cendy Chery, Audreys Rosario (CW*s: Alexis Nelson, Alondra Rivera, Natasha Rosario, Andrew Oung)
2016: Heather Argueta, Alana Perez, Audreys Rosario, Juan Nunez (CW*s: Andrew Oung, Natasha Rosario, CD*: Alexis Nelson)

*Counselor Workers
*Camp Director

I look forward to seeing you. While the concert is free, I hope you will consider making a donation to support the fund. 100% of your tax-deductible gift supports the Fred Kelley Memorial Scholarship Fund. No donation is too small (or too large)!

Jesse Holstein
Associate Director and Senior Resident Musician


CMW Celebrates 20 with Twenty Years, Twenty Stories





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.




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.


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.

A Masterclass for All Play Day

Last week during All Play Day, students participated in a masterclass with special guests: renowned violinist James Buswell, violinist Ealain McMullin (a former CMW fellow and co-director of The Newport String Project), cellist Carol Ou, and violist Jason Amos (former CMW Fellow and member of the Boston Public Quartet).  A masterclass is an opportunity for students to receive feedback on their playing in front of peers. It is a great learning experience for performers and audience-members to watch a teacher in action, ask questions, and explore musical ideas together.

It has been particularly rewarding to follow up with students this week about what they learned from the class. My violin student Ella remarked “I learned that it’s important to warm-up with scales. I liked hearing him [Mr. Buswell] play for us.” Some students are already incorporating new ideas into their playing. It was a great afternoon of sharing and learning and we are grateful to the teachers for joining us at All Play!

–Josie Davis, Violin Fellow

Saturday: Ars Subtilior #8

I first became aware of Pauline Oliveros my first year in college (way back in 1993!). The music library at the university I attended my freshman year (U of I in Champaign-Urbana) had an extensive collection of LPs and scores by contemporary composers. This was the first time I had unlimited access to that kind of music. I don’t know how I came across her record. I think I was just flipping through the school’s massive collection and was struck by there being a woman on the cover and that she played accordion. To me, neither of these things were in line with classical music, and being the self-proclaimed black sheep wherever I go, I naturally gravitated to it. Unfortunately, I had so much studying and practicing of “standard repertoire” to do for the remainder of my education, I was unable to explore more of her music, but she was always in the back of my musical mind. It wasn’t until a decade later that I got to see her perform live as part of a sound installation in a parking garage in Santa Monica, California. She was already 72 years old at the time, eyes closed, playing accordion intently, drawing in everyone awkwardly standing around her. I was too shy to talk to her then but almost another decade later I was able to see her speak on a panel at the 80th birthday celebration of Alvin Lucier at Wesleyan University. I made a point of approaching her afterwards and telling her how much I appreciated her work. I had planned to take a trip to Troy, NY to visit her where she taught and hopefully play for her, but it never happened and sadly, Pauline Oliveros passed away at age 84 last November.

So what was so amazing about Pauline you might ask? Well, not only was she a pioneer in experimental electronic music, she coined the term “Deep Listening,” which is almost a lifestyle for some people.  She even developed a new musical theory of “sonic awareness.” This awareness is described as “the ability to consciously focus attention upon environmental and musical sound”, requiring “continual alertness and an inclination to be always listening.” This is something that I have continually practiced through my improvisations and performances of experimental music and what I’ve strived to bring to events I curate. I’m not sure running across Pauline’s LP back in 1993 planted that seed, but I’d like to think that it did. 

Saturday’s concert will begin with Oliveros’ Sonic Meditation, “Sonic Rorschach” followed by a performance by the MusicWorks Collective of Catherine Lamb’s “noise/tone (emergence patterns).” Oliveros’ work will draw listeners’ attention to a finite point after being deluged (or aurally massaged) by white noise for 30 minutes and then Cat’s piece will wallow in the overtones of 60 hz, the fundamental frequency of the ever present electronic hum of the modern world. A performance by my duo, Mem1, will bring these elements to a culmination with an improvisation with cello and electronics, steeped in a practice of intimate listening that we have developed over the last 13 years together.

–Laura Cetilia is a CMW resident musician and curator of the Ars Subtilior series

Please join us for this performance:
Saturday, February 4 at 8pm
159 Sutton Street, Providence

The We Shall Overcome Project

In recent months, CMW teachers have been working with students on an experiment we’re calling the We Shall Overcome Project.

In this project, all of our student ensembles are learning an arrangement of We Shall Overcome (with parts designed for varying skill levels), and learning more about the history and meaning of the song. Since September, the students have all taking part in weekly activities that explore the text, history, and power of this song, and have been starting to write their own verses based on things that they would like to overcome – in their schools, their neighborhoods, or in the world at large. One student-written verse reads: “We are all unique…we will be ourselves….bullying is not ok.”

The first performance of these new verses were performed at the January Performance Party at Calvary Baptist Church and were a great success. Now, we’ll continue to refine the ensemble performances, and also invite parents, Board members, and community members into the process. Stay tuned for information about ways to participate, including community sings. The culminating performance will be in late March, as part of the Emanuel Ax residency, and we’ll produce a video on the project this spring.

This experiment helps us explore our hypothesis that musical proficiency and community participation skills are mutually reinforcing. We hope that, through the We Shall Overcome Project, students, families, and teachers will work together to more deeply explore the meaning of music and the role it can have in supporting social change.

— Chloe Kline
Education Director

No One is a Stranger

Ever wonder about the history of a particular musical instrument? The musicians it has served, the venues it has seen, the audiences reached? CMW recently received a donation of two instruments from a generous donor. In this account, Karen Romer gives us the story of Carrie Teale and the violins destined for our community of music-loving youth.

Carrie Teale

It was the 1890’s and teenager Carrie Teale had a gift for music. She played the violin so beautifully that Leopold Auer, the great teacher of Jascha Heifetz and Nathan Milstein, heard her recital at Carnegie Hall and urged her parents to let him teach her in Germany. Carrie’s parents thought Germany was too far away for a girl of sixteen to go alone; however, her father wanted her to have the best possibilities in America, so he bought her a fine Italian violin.

Carrie continued to play, but not professionally. She married young and had two daughters. Chamber music and musician friends often filled Carrie’s house. Family lore tells of her second daughter, Catherine, once asking her mother how she connected with people who were strangers only minutes before, yet were soon revealing their innermost thoughts. Carrie was stopped by the question, unaware that she was anything special. “No one is a stranger,” she said.

Years later, arthritis prevented Carrie from playing even the standard folk songs and “Pop Goes the Weasel” for her grandchildren, so she entrusted her two violins to her granddaughter, Ann Chalmers Watts. “You can do whatever you want with these instruments as long as they will benefit young people,” Carrie said. Now Community MusicWorks is the fortunate recipient of those two violins. It seems the Powers That Be knew that CMW would be the perfect destination for the violins of someone who thought that “no one is a stranger”.

Recently some CMW students, staff and board members came together to meet Ann and see the two violins she offered to CMW. We sat around two very well worn cases while resident musician Jesse Holstein opened and unwrapped the violins, one by one, from faded yellow silk. One, the instrument that Carrie probably played for her recital, had a golden varnish and appeared to be from the 19th century and German, modeled after an Amati. The other was dark auburn and made by Ruggieri of Cremona in 1671. (That was fourteen years before Bach and Handel were born!) Jesse passed the violins around our circle, and we admired them, asked questions and made comments. A luthier will give them careful attention before restringing and setting them up for a new life in Providence.

One CMW student, Alex, observed that for hundreds of years people like herself had been excluded from the community of classical musicians and thus from the joys and satisfactions of learning about classical music through playing it; she said she is now part of that community because of CMW, and those joys are very much a part of her life, including playing Bach and “Papa Haydn.” She pointed out that she might be the first person of color to hold the Ruggieri violin. 

Finally, to culminate the occasion, some people played wonderfully: Alex played Bach, student Jessenia played Mazas and fellow Josie and Jesse played duos by Bach, Pleyel, and Bartok. There is a good chance you can hear these violins in 2017!

–Karen Romer
CMW supporter and former President of the Board




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