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Music, Community Engagement, & Social Action

Spring 2021 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.  See below for past (Fall 2020) presenters.


Marielisa and Mariesther Alvarez#1, Wed. Feb. 10, 7-8pm: Marielisa & Mariesther Alvarez, founders of Boston String Academy

Event Webpage    Zoom Registration

Boston String Academy is a non-profit organization inspired by El Sistema, the National System of Youth and Children's Orchestras of Venezuela. BSA provides a vibrant string orchestra program for inner-city young students, forging social integration through music by creating a path for young people to become sensitive, responsible and creative human beings. The program offers many performance opportunities, master classes, lessons and ensemble settings, which enable students to build self-confidence, discipline, commitment, social skills and other fundamental values essential to every child's development.

Joshua Addison, David Rubin & Nancy Galluzzo of musiConnects
Addison, Rubin, Galluzzo

#2, Wed. Feb. 17, 7-8pm: Boston's musiConnects

Link to Register    Event Webpage

Nancy Galluzzo (Executive Director), David Rubin (Program Director), and Joshua Addison (Director of Artistic Planning) will speak about their organization's efforts to model and teach self-expression, peer leadership, and community development through the power of chamber music. In its 14th season, musiConnects - a chamber music residency in Boston's Mattapan and Roslindale neighborhoods - engages its community with thriving educational initiatives and a full season of accessible performances featuring a dedicated staff of Resident Musician teaching artists.


Vicki Citron#3, Wed. Feb. 24, 7-8pm: Vicki Citron, founder of Musica Frankin

Link to Register       Event Webpage

Musica Franklin is an El Sistema-inspired free after-school music program in Franklin County with a mission of preparing students for a brighter future through music. Its programs meet at the Sheffield Elementary School in Turners Falls and the Leyden Woods housing community in Greenfield, providing access to families with the fewest resources. Now in its sixth year, Musica Franklin has grown from 12 students and two staff members to 50-75 students per year and seven staff members.  Music Franklin students enjoy increased confidence and competence inside and outside the classroom.

So Percussion#4, Wed. March 3, 7-8pm: Jason Treuting, Sō Percussion

Link to Register      Event Webpage

Jason will speak on topics related to his experience as a founding member of Brooklyn-based Sō Percussion Ensemble, which has worked to address equity and antiracism through its original compositions and commissioning projects, community-based programming, and service-oriented initiatives like carbon offset commitments and annual food-packing.


Ariana Falk with student

#5, Wed. March 10, 7-8pm: Ariana Falk, Education Director, Worcester Chamber Music Society

Link to Register    Event Webpage

Ariana Falk is the Education Director for the Worcester Chamber Music Society and founder/director of its Neighborhood Strings program, now in its 9th year of providing music lessons, mentorship, and community for 85 youth in Worcester.  Ariana, a cellist, also serves on the faculty of Clark University, as well as Music Director for the MA Fulbright Association and director of ChamberFest. She was honored in 2018 with the “Music and Community Award” from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Ariana will speak about growing an educational program out of a Chamber Music Society, shaping a program to serve a city, and creating levels of mentorship that serve and strengthen the community.

Weston Sprott#6, Wed. March 17, 7-8pm: Weston Sprott

Link to Register     Event Webpage

Weston Sprott is Dean of Juilliard School's Preparatory Division and trombonist in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. He is a frequent guest speaker, lecturer and panelist on music education and diversity and inclusion at Sphinx Connect, International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians, League of American Orchestras, Young Concert Artists, Atlanta Symphony Building Bridges Symposium, and others. Previously, he was brass department head at Mannes College and held faculty positions at Rutgers University, Purchase College, and Juilliard’s Music Advancement Program (MAP). He appeared in Ben Niles’ documentary film Some Kind of Spark, which highlights the impact of music education in the lives of students as they attend MAP.  Full bio =>

Damani Phillips#7, Wed. March 24, 7-8pm: "Lost Soul" with Damani Phillips

Link to Register    Event Webpage

Lost Soul: Issues in Teaching Ethnically Derived Arts in Academia

How does collegiate jazz education impact the Black cultural value of “soulfulness” in jazz music?

University of Iowa Associate Professor of Jazz and African American Studies Damani Phillips presents findings from his 2018 book "What Is This Thing Called Soul: Conversations on Black Culture and Jazz Education." He delves into the inherent problems associated with teaching an ethnically-derived art form such as jazz in an environment that is both designed to teach European classical music and remarkably lacking in ethnic/cultural representation among those charged with teaching the music.  Read more =>



Past Events - Fall 2020 Lecture Series


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

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

Dr. Wright will speak about her experiences with Opus 118 Harlem School of Music.  Opus 118, 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.