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Music, Community Engagement & Social Action

Fall 2020 Online Speaker Series

Wednesdays at 7pm, via Zoom and YouTube Live, including time for Q & A

Organized by violin professor Elizabeth Chang and co-sponsored by the Fine Arts Center, the series explores how artists and educators are seeking to effect social change through music.
Link to YouTube playlist to watch post-event.

Sebastian Ruth#1, Wed. Sept. 30, 7-8pm: Sebastian Ruth, founder of Community MusicWorks

Event Webpage

MacArthur fellow Sebastian Ruth speaks about his pioneering work as founder of Providence Community MusicWorks. CMW has been called a “revolutionary organization” (The New Yorker) that builds cohesive urban community—through music education and performance—transforming the lives of children, families, and musicians in underserved urban neighborhoods of Providence, RI.

Haven String Quartet#2, Wed. Oct. 7, 7-8pm: Haven String Quartet, Music Haven

Link to Register    Event Webpage    YouTube channel  (Stream will appear on the channel just before 7)

Members of the Haven String Quartet speak about the Music Haven program, which empowers and connects young people through exceptional tuition-free music education, mentoring, and performance by resident musicians in the heart of New Haven, giving all kids a chance to play.


#3, Wed. Oct. 21, 7-8pm: Project STEP, featuring
Rachel Forbes '19Javier Caballero, Artistic Director
Rachel Forbes '19 (pictured), Program & Communications Manager
Jodie McMenamin, Manager of Donor Engagement
Alyssa Lee, Executive Director

Link to Register       Event Webpage

Project STEP (String Training and Education Program, or STEP) was founded in 1982 to rectify the vast underrepresentation of certain racial and ethnic minorities in classical music. STEP’s mission is to address this imbalance by identifying talented young musicians from communities that are historically underrepresented in classical music and providing them with long‐term, rigorous music and string instrument instruction.

Michelle Painter#4, Wed. Oct. 28, 7-8:30pm (note extended time): Alumni Focus

Part 1: Michelle Painter MM'12 (pictured left), Community Engagement Coordinator, Florida Orchestra

Kokoe TanakaHannah van der SwaaghPart 2: Hannah van der Swaagh MM'10 and Kokoe Tanaka (pictured right), former teachers at Bronx Global Learning Institute for Girls

Link to Register       Event Webpage



Nicole Wright

#5, Wed. Nov. 4, 7-8pm: Nicole Wright, master teacher, Opus 118

Link to Register       Event Webpage

Opus 118 Harlem School of Music, committed to the local community, transforms the lives of students and their families through access to quality music education both in-school and after-school, while fostering teacher development and introducing performance to new audiences.



Garrett McQueen#6, Wed. Nov. 11, 7-8pm: Garrett McQueen, bassoonist, creator of TRILLOQUY podcast series

Link to Register       Event Webpage

In the late summer of 2016, Garrett McQueen shifted his career from a professional bassoonist to a radio host and content creator. Along the way, he discovered conversations within the world of classical music that deserved more attention. With the help of his friend and colleague, Scott Blankenship, the two created TRILLOQUY: true and real conversations that challenge the status quo of "classical" music.


Courtney Clark and Sean Elligers#7, Wed. Nov. 18, 7-8pm: Courtney Clark & Sean Elligers, Kids 4 Harmony

Link to Register       Event Webpage      Kids 4 Harmony website

Courtney Clark (Artistic Director) and Sean Elligers MM'15 (Assistant Director) of Kids 4 Harmony will speak about the free, intensive classical music program for youth from under-resourced communities in Berkshire County of western Massachusetts.

Inspired by the El Sistema model of music for social justice change, Kids 4 Harmony uses an art form, which historically has been largely inaccessible to many based on wealth, privilege and color, to build opportunity and open closed doors. With a three-pronged focus on musical excellence, student well-being and development, and family support, Kids 4 Harmony builds accomplishment, discipline, grit, aspiration, and family community engagement to tip the scales on social justice.