Investing in People and Place

For the past 20 years, Community MusicWorks has been invested in both people and place – our students, families, and professional musicians, and the community of Providence.

Last year was truly a celebratory season. Throughout our programs, we reflected on our growth and impact, and we took on important new initiatives. Some of last year’s most significant moments included the expansion of our Daily Orchestra Program to include a new daily ensemble for six-, seven-, and eight-year-olds; the We Shall Overcome Project; the graduation of our largest class of Phase II students and our tenth class of Fellows; the residency of world-renowned pianist Emanuel Ax; and over 30 inspiring free performances.

Beyond the specifics, we celebrated the culture of Community MusicWorks, which supports young people, professional musicians, guest artists, and our colleagues in CMW’s Fellowship Program, to continually grow their approach to music-making in our community.

“The always-evolving organism of CMW is innovative, curious, engaged, compassionate, empathetic, generous and far-reaching. I learned more than I imagined I would in the most supportive and nurturing environment. I can’t think of a better place to incubate and grow ideas and deepen my own experience and confidence. Getting to know, teach, and learn from the most wonderful studio of students, along with performing with an exceptional ensemble of colleagues has been incredibly motivating and continues to inform my work.”
– Josie Davis, violinist, CMW Fellow 2015-17

Using our 20th season as both inspiration and motivation – and recognizing all there is still to work on in our community and world – we are beginning our third decade looking even more deeply at our mission and how we put it into practice. Consistent with our Strategic Plan, we have mapped out several significant enhancements to our programs, included below.

These new initiatives range from further developing our music education practices with young people, to deepening the experiences of our concert audiences, to developing the MusicWorks Network, a new consortium of programs around the country that were founded on CMW’s model. I am pleased to share highlights of these new program elements, which of course will be in addition to our daily work with our 160 students and our over 30 free performances in our communities.

What we know has been a key to our growth and success – our ability to create new opportunities – has been the partnerships with supporters like you who share our belief that music can be a transformative experience for our communities.

As we launch into our third decade, your donation towards our ambitious 21st season will enable us to further develop, strengthen, and deepen our work.

As you know, Community MusicWorks is committed to offering our youth programs and performances free of charge – which means we must raise our full budget each year. Your generous gift will ensure that we can maintain our commitments to students, musicians, and audiences. Your partnership will allow us to work with young people and artists in a way that has a real impact on building positive goals and futures.

I appreciate your considering a generous gift this fall to make transformational experiences possible for young people and our communities.

Sebastian Ruth
Founder & Artistic Director
Community MusicWorks 

Community MusicWorks
21st Season Special Programs and Projects

Phase II for All and Joy in Practice

This year, during the first semester of All Play Day – a weekly two-hour session where CMW Phase I, II and III students gather for intense lessons and rehearsals – students will be invited to select classes based on their playing ability and interest. Classes will focus on improvisation and composition, theory and sight-reading, jazz, performance anxiety and mindfulness, learning how to practice, and experimental music. This enhanced offering provides our students with many access points into the study of music, and encourages them to explore their own interests and skills as musicians.

The second half of the year will be focused on ensembles, including all students exploring a piece in depth, building on the We Shall Overcome Project. In the We Shall Overcome Project, all of our students will learn an arrangement of a historically significant song as well as learning about its origins, later uses, and meaning. Starting in January, students will take part in weekly activities that explore the text, history, and power of this song, and will write their own verses based on their personal and musical experiences in their community or in the world at large.

Music Transforms

As part of our mission to explore, hear, and perform a broad range of voices through our concerts, our programming this year has been expanded to include a theme of presenting under-represented communities. Throughout the season, we will explore the works by female composers in a broad range of genres and instrumentation.

In addition to our MusicWorks Collective concerts, CMW’s mission to present visionary artists, such as Jonathan Biss, Emanuel Ax, and this season, world-renowned violinist Johnny Gandelsman, in performances and collaborations, offers two important opportunities for CMW. First, it allows CMW to share its mission and programs with a broader base of music aficionados. Second, it offers our students an opportunity to be inspired to strive for their musical and personal goals and to find their voice as unique citizens in our world.

Leading the Conversation

In August, CMW launched MusicWorks Network, the first of three annual institutes funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Network brings together representatives from nine organizations, staffed or led by former CMW Fellows and participants in our Institutes for Musicianship and Public Service. The overarching goals for the Network include: sharing social justice programming, goals, and methodology; incorporating college-going skills development among students across the network; and building connectivity between the sites to facilitate shared learning and creating pathways for CMW students and Fellowship Program graduates to contribute and gain employment in other sites.

Several important themes emerged at the institute that challenged CMW to grow our practice. Primary among them is that CMW has an opportunity to dig deeper into the questions of organizational practice as they relate to social justice broadly, and racial justice in particular. We are energized to define more clearly how all of CMW’s practices can reflect our social justice commitment and curriculum.