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Renewed Community Engagement?

It seems that many of WolfBrown’s clients are helping answer the question of what it means to be a productive and successful musician in the 21st century, and discovering that one of the more important components of being a complete musician now is about engaging in your community in a deep and personal way.  Recently, I’ve been inspired by programs that promote and support community engagement, including:

  • Community MusicWorks in Providence, Rhode Island supports a professional string quartet and other musicians using music to help build and transform community.
  • Weill Music Institute and Carnegie Hall’s joint program called Musical Connections takes music out of the concert hall and directly to people who don’t readily have access to live music (e.g., hospital patients, prisoners, seniors). The program also supports participating artists through its Professional Development program.
  • Carnegie Hall and Weill are also partnering with the Juilliard School and the New York City Department of Education on The Academy, a two-year fellowship program for up and coming professional musicians which helps them to develop community engagement and leadership skills along with artistic excellence.
  • The New England Conservatory (NEC) has a number of programs that focus on community, including musical entrepreneurship that WolfBrown helped design and the American version of Venezuela’s El Sistema, a voluntary musical education program.

Tony Woodcock, President of the NEC, in a recent talk at the Salzburg Seminars last month discussing NEC’s programs and innovations around professional musicians, quoted Dr. Jose Antonio Abreu, the founder of the El Sistema program in Venezuela: “It is not enough for them (musicians) to love their instruments; they must also learn to love their responsibilities as citizens. They need to be apostles to the community.”  I think this pretty much sums up the importance of artists’ activity within their community – agents of social change.



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