Visits to Community MusicWorks, 2010

In March and April, I made two visits to Community MusicWorks in Providence, RI. Since the Boston Public Quartet residency is inspired by the work of Sebastian Ruth, the Providence String Quartet and Community MusicWorks, I visit often for seminars, discussions, performances and IMPS.

I went on Friday March 26th for an awesome seminar by Heath Marlow, director of development, on the nuts and bolts of presenting an organization to a foundation. I stayed for Phase II – usually an evening activity for teens taking violin, viola and cello lessons at CMW – but today an all-CMW rehearsal and workshop with Jessie Montgomery. Jessie is a composition student in New York, but for five years was a resident musician at CMW, playing and teaching violin as part of the Providence String Quartet. CMW commissioned Jessie to write a piece to include all 110 CMW students, their families, and CMW faculty, based on the CMW Round -aka the CMW theme song. I helped set up chairs and stands, then witnessed some of my favorite moments at CMW.

The kids wandered in, a few at a time. Kirby Vasquez, senior, cellist, and board member, stood in a corner with her phone. She scrolled through email, no doubt, then began jumping up and down squealing. “I got into Smith!!” Her first choice college. Kirby has been playing cello at Community MusicWorks for as long as I can remember. I have always been impressed with her – and all the teens at CMW – atypically making eye-contact, remembering acquaintances and always greeting adults kindly, and acting as leaders for the younger students. I am very proud of her and all of the CMW seniors! Most are receiving full rides and attending their first choice colleges in the fall.

The rehearsal of Jessie’s piece was so exciting! It included parts for all of the students – a cool “Suzuki inspired” rhythm for the younger students, a section to feature Rachel’s fiddle lab, a faculty quartet led section, a hip hop beat with room for improvised solos, and of course a part for families and audience to join in by singing the CMW Round. I was so inspired, I decided to attend the Youth Salon where it was to be performed.

On April 10th, Sam and I drove to Providence after a long day at the Hope in Action Campaign, to attend the Youth Salon, which is a yearly event produced and performed entirely by students to benefit a local or global cause. This year the theme was Haiti Relief. We had a great time, and I got the whole event on video to show the BPQ students at the Chittick School.


Click here to view a taste of Jessie’s composition, performed at Youth Salon 2010.

Click here to make a secure on-line donation through Network for Good, to support BPQ. We would like to charter a bus to Providence for our students to participate in Youth Salon 2011!

Hello from Hope in Action at Emmanuel

‘Cause I’m hopeful, yes I am, hopeful for today. Take this music and use it, let it take you away.
And be hopeful, and he’ll find a way. I know it ain’t easy, but that’s okay. Let’s be hopeful.”
– “Hope,”  Twista, featuring Faith Evans

Since learning about the Boston Public Quartet while working on the Hope in Action economic justice campaign at Emmanuel Church, I have become hopeful about the Boston metropolitan area. Being a Southern-influenced man from New Jersey, I was raised with consistent smiles, occasional hugs, and innumerable good mornings, how are yous, hows it goings, which I found sorely lacking upon my arrival in Beantown.  As an African American import to this city my first impression was not the best: seeing black panhandlers constantly, in contrast to the number of students and working professionals I became acquainted with upon settling in town.  I could go on and on with the negativity I’ve been exposed to over the years here, but know it would be futile, as we have all gone through the same thing. When I saw all the excitement generated by Hope in Action at our MLK celebration, hope sprang in my heart and warmth overtook my rather chilled body at that time; I felt a renewal, a newfound joy within my soul. This was intensified when the campaign at Emmanuel chose to partner with and support the Boston Public Quartet.

I had a chance to experience the joys of children creating art to the wondrous sounds of chamber music at Messy Music at the South Shore Conservatory. A number of Emmanuel members got to draw and dance the afternoon away with a set of cool kids during Messy Music, which was designed for the special needs population at the Chittick Elementary.  And speaking of Chittick – I have been blessed with the job of helping to organize the next Messy Music, taking place May 26th, 2010. I am overjoyed at this opportunity! To be honest…I cannot totally express how I feel! I do know Messy Music is something I wished I had been able to take part in in grade school.  I can’t wait to see what comes next!

~Daymeyn Gantt, Hope in Action at Emmanuel