Unlocking Meaning: CMW Fellows’ Residency at Butler Hospital









“I find myself saying that it doesn’t matter what the music is, or at least that the content is a trivial concern compared to the importance of making a human connection between performer and listener.”

Heath Marlow, former CMW staffer and current faculty/staff at New England Conservatory, reflects on his work with CMW Fellows in creating and implementing a performance residency at Butler Hospital, a psychiatric facility on Providence’s East Side,  in 2017:

At our first session together in Fall 2016, I asked the Fellows to come up with a new community (not the communities already served by Community MusicWorks) that could potentially benefit from interacting with a string quartet.

The group’s research led to the conclusion that it would be important to try out their ideas in an environment that had the capacity to support the quartet’s experimental activities. Butler Hospital’s Healing Arts Program was immediately receptive to hosting the quartet, and a series of three activities for distinct patient populations (adolescent, adult, geriatric) was soon decided upon.


​”It was personally humbling to participate in the workshops. The response in each unit was so different – but equally powerful. It felt challenging to insert ourselves into such an intense environment – having no idea where each person was on their healing path.”

Read Heath’s full account and reflection in his blog piece, here.

This year, Heath meets regularly with the current quartet of Fellows (and other interested musician colleagues) to discuss aspects of building a career as a musician at the intersection of artistry and community using the best practices associated with growing a community-based organization.