10 years - 10 stories (Joshua Addison - Resident musician, member of the musiconnects sumner quartet)
My first work with musiConnects was from 2007-2008, when Betsy Hinkle invited me to join the Chittick String Quartet. After a year few years in graduate school on the west coast I returned to Boston and very quickly rejoined the musiConnects community, first as a Resident Artist and teacher with mC's Community Programs, and eventually as a member of the Sumner Quartet. musiConnects' mission of empowerment and community-building, with chamber music as the central means of accomplishing those ends, immediately resonated with me. My long-time association with the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music had already instilled in me a love for chamber music and a strong belief in the transformative powers of its processes. At musiConnects I was given an opportunity to put this passion to practical use, and it has been a joy to see the fruits of our hard work, most especially each time I am able watch a student chamber group perform without the help of a teacher, each time I am able to witness these children practicing powerful forms of wordless communication, this is when my heart sings!
My Name is Brandon Payne and I have been playing the viola for 6 years with musiConnects. I feel good about playing an instrument because I can let stress out. Playing an instrument changes me because it lets me feel like I can let out some anger. Musicians can do a lot of things in life like get a job and go to college. I think of myself as a musician because playing makes me feel free and it makes me feel like I can do anything. A skill I've learned in music is focus. For example focus can help me in life by keeping me out of bad things and from getting into trouble. I feel happy when I play music, for example if I feel stressed out I can just play my instrument and let that stress out.
musiConnects began from a few seeds of ideas -
Kids with the least access to music education should be given the most energy, and the most and best of what's possible. It's only then that they can truly reap the benefits of all that music has to offer.
The act of playing chamber music can be a powerful tool for transformation - for the individual, between acquaintances, friends and those divided, between audience and performer, between resident quartet and community.
musiConnects has grown into what it is today - a flourishing plant with roots, stem and leaves, with these two ideas still at the forefront. There are more branches, buds and flowers still to come, but the foundation has been created. Sometimes it feels as if musiConnects is growing in rough, rocky or fallow soil, and other times fertile, nutrient-rich ground.
When I imagine students who are now in middle school first picking up their instruments, I am in awe with how much they personally have accomplished, but also how much the organization has grown around them. I also love seeing my brand new students today - falling in love with music and the possibilities in store for them!
I am ever-grateful to my musician colleagues, some of whom have been there from the very beginning, others for quite a long time, and still others who bring new fervent energy to our work together.
I am even more grateful for those whose energy has ensured that musiConnects will continue to grow - the board and staff who have taken a young but thriving plant into their care to help it strengthen its roots, create a trunk, and grow into an ever-lasting tree.
And I am grateful to you. You who have faith that musiConnects is doing the work that we set out to do 10 years ago. You, whom without your support we wouldn't be where we are today.
Welcome to our 10th Season!
A Letter from the Executive Director
musiConnects has reached a major milestone! It is with much anticipation and excitement that we kick off our 10th season. It is hard to believe that it has been 10 years since founder, Betsy Hinkle, sought to fill the need for high quality music performance and education in Boston’s most underserved neighborhoods. Since 2007, musiConnects has grown from providing quality music instruction to 9 students at the Chittick Elementary School, to serving over 100 children, most of whom receive weekly one-on-one instruction and small-group Chamber Music classes free of charge with instruments provided by musiConnects.
As the organization has evolved, so too has its mission. Apart from the goal of providing children with access to musical education, musiConnects programming also embraced its social justice component. Eight Resident Musicians embedded initially in Boston Public Schools, now in local community centers and in our Roslindale Community Program begun in 2011, not only teach music proficiency, but also focus on helping students develop their confidence, self-expression and communication skills. The musiConnects model teaches skills uniquely developed by playing music with others. Our Resident Musicians are also dedicated to their role as mentors. Long-term mentoring relationships are forged and have been lifelines for many students.
Equally important, at the core of musiConnects' work is the belief that quality live performances are a right for all and not just a privilege for a few. A hallmark of musiConnects' approach is that the Resident Musicians are the members of its professional string quartets, who, in addition to their teaching, perform free of charge in students' neighborhoods, thereby modeling the relationship of artists to community. The Boston Public and Sumner Quartets give free public concerts in libraries, churches, community centers, and outdoor venues. Look for our pop-up performances as part of the “musiConnects Errands Tour” in Mattapan this year when going about daily tasks!
This year brings many exciting changes! Beginning this season, our Resident Musicians will now be embedded at the Lena Park CDC in Dorchester and the Mildred Avenue Community Center in Mattapan. These partnerships will allow musiConnects to teach students beyond the attendees of the Chittick and Sumner elementary schools, retaining more than 50% of continuing students, while still being situated in the neighborhoods with the greatest need. The community center collaborations offer more sustainability and continuity by providing for participation past 5th grade. Finally, the centers specialize in social and academic support for students during after-school hours, and provide a healthy place for students to be in transition from the school day to musiConnects programming.
Finally, before we jump into our 10th season, I want to thank all of you who have been with us since the beginning or have joined us along the way. With your support, Betsy’s dream of social change through the transformative power of chamber music is ever growing.
On behalf of musiConnects’ Board of Directors, I am thrilled to introduce Nancy Galluzzo as our first Executive Director. Nancy will be on board full time in May, but you can come meet her at musiConnects' Benefit Concert on April 28th.
As musiConnects deepens its commitment to modeling and teaching self-expression, peer leadership and community development, we feel tremendously fortunate to be looking ahead to our 10th season with Nancy at the helm to guide our growth.
What should you know about Nancy? She’s a West Roxbury resident who started her fascinatingly varied career path as a lawyer and served for five years as a Senior Investigator for the United States Department of Labor. After coming to the realization that she would find more personal fulfillment in the arts, Nancy embraced a new direction as the sole proprietor—and resident artist—of 3D and UP Pottery Studio in Jamaica Plain. This community-based experience helped position Nancy for her next career move: Associate Director of the Society of Arts and Crafts, where she built up her arts administration skills over seven years, including serving as Interim Executive Director.
You should also know that Nancy is no stranger to music education and performance. As a drummer—in her spare time—Nancy can be found volunteering during the summer at Girls Rock Boston or performing with her band at Bella Luna in Jamaica Plain!
As we have gotten to know Nancy a little bit over the past month, we unanimously came to the conclusion that she is going to be a wonderful fit for the entire musiConnects community—from our Resident Musicians to our young students and their families, to our supporters, partners, and audience members. Nancy is savvy, experienced, passionate, and an excellent communicator who made us feel comfortable right away when we met her. Through her new role as Executive Director, Nancy looks forward to leading an organization that “embraces the transformative power of music.”
We are grateful to Jill Carrier for helping to ease Nancy’s transition into her new role in the weeks leading into May. Please join us in welcoming Nancy to the musiConnects family!
President, Board of Directors
The first time I set eyes on musiConnects in action, I knew it was an organization like no other. I was attending a performance in Mattapan by musiConnects students and Resident Musicians, in celebration of Black History month. The woman sitting beside me beamed at her grandson, who was so focused on playing “Deep River” as one with the ensemble, that he didn’t notice. She told me afterwards that she had never before heard a live string instrument or chamber music concert. It was my first glimpse of how chamber music can be a powerful vehicle of social change, providing greater access and opportunity, as well as building community.
Not long after, I joined musiConnects as its first full-time Managing Director, and my understanding of what makes it one-of-a-kind on the Boston landscape only deepened. Betsy Hinkle and all of the Resident Musicians are extraordinarily dedicated teachers, who give a rich musical education to children who would not otherwise have it. Going far beyond the music, they are mentors who are gifted in using chamber music to help children become empathetic leaders who work together across differences. Resident Musicians’ compassionate work not only fosters in their students a lifelong love of music, it helps them to develop positive forms of self-expression and to see bigger possibilities for themselves.
On the belief that all people should be able to experience live, high caliber concerts, musiConnects’ Resident Musicians also perform magnificent free, public chamber music concerts in diverse neighborhoods of Boston, including those which are off the usual classical music beaten path and those in which musiConnects students live. In doing so, they exemplify working artists in residence in the community.
This is not lost on musiConnects students. Walking behind two pre-adolescent boys on their way to their lessons one day, I overheard one of them say to the other, “I’m NOT a vioLINist! I’m a viOlist!” Beyond his slight irritation that his friend could even for a moment mistake him for a violinist, his tone of voice expressed his fierce pride in his identity as a musician.
Playing a supporting role in musiConnects’ on-the-ground, day-to-day educational and performance programs has been some of the most rewarding work I have ever done. But my work behind the scenes -- putting organizational systems in place, strengthening infrastructure and participating in a long-range planning process with an outside consultant -- all of this has also been tremendously meaningful to me, because it is in service of sustaining this extraordinary organization which Betsy founded nine years ago, for many years to come.
Even as I prepare to move on to my next pursuit, Betsy, the board and I will be working together in the coming months to hire an outstanding Executive Director. We are confident not only that the transition will be smooth, but also that musiConnects will continue to soar on its exciting trajectory, building on the great strides of the past year, and planning for growth in the next season. In the meantime, I am engaged with all my heart, and with sleeves rolled up, shoulder-to-shoulder with Betsy, on the vibrant season underway, which includes two new pilot educational programs and more than 12 performances still to come.
I hope to see you at one of them very soon!
In 2008-2009, year 2 of musiConnects' existence, I received an amazing offer from Melissa Burrage, mom to three teen string players from Weston. In April of year 2 it was pretty much still a one woman show at our Chittick residency, and Melissa's generous offer to bring her three wonderful kids every Thursday to help out with teaching was a godsend. Zach and his sisters formed the Burrage-Goodwin string trio, and all three did a stellar job with our students. Zach, the cellist, really helped our 4th grade cellists learn more than they ever could have (especially since I am no cello teacher!) while also being a cool teenager, master improviser and beat boxer, and they really looked up to him.
On August 25th of this year, Zach died tragically in a motorcycle accident while finishing up his Bachelor's of Music Education at the University of South Carolina. I was shocked and saddened by this tremendous loss not only to his family and friends, but to the world of music and especially music education. Although we lost him way too soon, he accomplished a great deal in his 22 years. He was such a creative and generous young man, studying both violin and cello at a very high level, writing poetry, and volunteering a great deal. I encourage you to read more about Zach here and here.
Zach's memory lives on at musiConnects, and we are so grateful to his family for including musiConnects as a recipient of donations in Zach's honor. To date, generous donors have given almost $1000, which helps us achieve our mission of providing the neighborhoods of Boston with the highest quality music education and performance through chamber music, something Zach really believed in, and helped us to achieve.
Watch and listen to Zach perform the Haydn London Trio with his sisters, the Burrage-Goodwin trio,
at the Chittick in 2009.
A lovely evening was had by all at the HMA on Wednesday night November 11th. A special, private event hosted by Jim and Joni McDonald was attended by tried and true supporters of musiConnects as well as those new to the organization. Contact Jill Carrier (email@example.com) if you would like to be added to the guest list for our next special event, and come hear the Brahms Quintet with Joy Cline Phinney again in Dorchester on December 12th!
As musiConnects enters its 9th Season, there is so much to celebrate and reflect upon. Nine years ago this Fall, I eagerly and nervously unloaded nine generously donated rental instruments from my car and carried them into the Chittick Elementary School in Mattapan. I had no idea what this new adventure in my life would bring except that it would involve teaching children whose school had no music classes, and who didn’t know the difference between a violin and a viola.
The educational portion of the program was a solo venture in 2007. Some colleagues and I, including Joshua Addison, formed the Chittick String Quartet and performed our debut concert at the old Mattapan Community Health Center - planting seeds for growing and transforming a community through music.
Almost a decade later, musiConnects is now a team of nine talented, dedicated, and fearless Resident Musicians, eight of whom form two string quartets, the Sumner Quartet and the Boston Public Quartet, and a violinist/composer/improvisor who adds infinite richness to the organization. And the very reason I can actually write this letter as the Artistic Director is the addition of our new Managing Director, the fearless, generous, and organizing force, Jill Carrier.
Collaboration, Commitment and Community. These have always been the guiding principals of our work, from day one. This year we are wearing them on our sleeves (and on our new t-shirts!) as our core values that define everything we do. In the case of working with our students, we can point to these as reminders of why we have all come together in this way - to practice daily in order to learn a new piece, to really listen carefully to peers and exchange ideas, to invite family and neighbors to a concert. As performers, it is also a reminder of why we spend hours honing the craft of playing our instruments, rehearsing the art of chamber music, and emoting to an audience of strangers now friends - not to keep it to ourselves, but to share our experiences intimately and widely.
We will center our season of concerts and events around these three core values. In November and December, we explore the art of Collaboration. The Boston Public Quartet will team up with pianist extraordinaire Joy Cline Phinney in performing the exquisite Piano Quintet by Johannes Brahms. This program will be presented in a Boston neighborhood community venue, and we also are excited to return to the Harvard Musical Association for a performance, also collaborating with pianist and host Jim McDonald. Also in November, the Celebrity Series of Boston presents a collaborative concert featuring the Boston Public Quartet and Pan-Latin artists Sol y Canto in Sabor y Memoria (Flavor and Memory) which touches on themes of memory and nostalgia for one's home country, as well as immigration, agricultural sustainability, and hunger relief.
March brings Commitment. Both the Sumner Quartet and the Boston Public Quartet will perform on a series of concerts designed to explore and reiterate our commitment to the work we do, and the neighborhoods we serve. This includes our showing our commitment to our growing Mattapan audience by performing for the fifth consecutive year at the beautiful Mattapan Library. You may stumble upon one or both of the quartets rehearsing at the Mattapan post office in preparation for this concert! In addition, our joint quartet concert at the Newton Free Library will engage listeners with music of Bartok and Mendelssohn, and stories of our work at the Chittick and Sumner Elementary Schools. We will also perform for the third time at Roxbury’s Hibernian Hall, alongside the Boston City Singers, presented by the Celebrity Series.
The idea of Community means a great deal to us, and it can have different meanings depending on the context. In the case of our April concerts, including our annual fundraising event at Emmanuel Church and a free Celebrity Series-sponsored event at Mattapan’s Church of the Holy Spirit, we hope to harness feelings of communion with members of different communities, and remind us all of our shared membership in the human race. Imagine a liturgical dance ensemble whose home is a Mattapan church, followed by a Debussy string quartet movement, followed by a chamber orchestra piece featuring all members of the musiConnects community and guest performers. I hope you’ll join us to witness the feeling of connection our students will have when they perform side by side with their teachers and other musicians!
At the end of September, dozens of violins, violas, and cellos lined the walls of our office, awaiting their car ride to the Chittick and Sumner elementary schools to be reunited with eager children who were so excited to get started playing music again. Now their sounds fill the school's’ hallways, matching scale pitches, harmonizing in string quartets, and playing an essential role in helping musiConnects continue its mission--now in its 9th year--to transform the lives of young musicians and their families.
Please join us!
My Very Best,
The Massachussetts Cultural Council has awarded musiConnects a very generous grant through its SerHacer grant-making initiative. We, our staff and families, are so grateful to not only the MCC but for the State of Massachussetts for upholding crucial funding for the arts!
Read more about SerHacer here