By Zhengyan Chen
Rhode Island has over 50 nonprofit organizations that serve a diverse set of Rhode Islanders. No matter what target market they focus on, their general purpose is to form a better Rhode Island community. There is an outstanding nonprofit organization that differentiates itself from others called Community MusicWorks based in Providence. This organization overlooks members’ social statuses and uses music as a language to connect all clients, instructing them in the existence of love in society.
Community MusicWorks began in 1997 with 15 violin students and has grown to include 10 classical, residential musicians. It works with more than 100 children free of charge. Irrespective of positions and backgrounds members in this group enjoy equal opportunity to be educated as well as to perform their music. Community MusicWorks’ mission is “to create a cohesive urban community through music education and performance that transforms the lives of children, families and musicians.” This year Community MusicWorks celebrates 20 years of existence. They are passionate about music and persist in achieving their goal. They always say: “At Community MusicWorks you always feel welcomed and comfortable, no matter how bad your day is.”
Cellist and resident musician Laura Cetilia belongs to Community MusicWorks and is the storyteller behind their history. Cetila mentioned that twenty years ago, the Founder and Artistic Director of Community MusicWorks Sebastian was a Brown University student with a passion for music and social justice. He had an idea involving the creation of musical opportunities for musicians and young people in Providence. Cetilia had a similar dream and found out about CMW in 2006. She was living in Los Angeles with her boyfriend, now her husband, freelancing as a teacher and performer. Cetila was dismayed with how things were going for her professionally. She gave private lessons to privileged families that could afford to pay a teacher to come to the house. She never was able to teach kids in the communities where she was interested in teaching, because these individuals could not pay for her to do so.
At some point she was tried to get a regular concert series going in the community center in her neighborhood of Montebello in collaboration with Parks and Recreation. However, she failed, which was very disheartening to her. She had no interest in getting great-paying recording gigs as most musicians do. The only thing she needed was her community, the freedom to express herself musically and help others do the same. Her opportunity came when her husband found a job at RISD and decided to move for this occupation. She googled “string quartet Providence” to see if there was by chance a group that needed a cello player. The first thing that came up on her screen was “Providence String Quartet and Community MusicWorks”, an organization out there doing the exact things that she desired to do.
It is an organization filled with love and passion. The reason why it is full of positive energy is because it is a gathering place for people who have a pure music dream regardless of hierarchal positions in the music world. All participants are aware of the organization’s mission. They work hard by learning, practicing and performing. They acquire musical abilities through their involvement, but most importantly they love to present to the public. This allows them to promote their mission and their organization in order to welcome more members to their community. All members at Community MusicWorks are living for a simple music atmosphere as opposed to the accumulation of wealth and fame. They imbrue their hands with instruments. All the actions they do, all words they say, all the notes they producing are friendly, serene, and clean.
Because of the great power of positive energy at Community MusicWorks, Providence, The Creative Capital, wins big. “The Governor’s Office, the Mayor’s office, the City Council and loads of press representatives all piled into the State House on June 12, 2012 to congratulate Community MusicWorks on growing into a nationally recognized art initiative. ArtPlace, a collaborative of the nation’s top foundations partnered with the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts), awarded grants to Community MusicWorks worth $454,000 and $100,000 respectively,” (Providence Monthly). In terms of recognitions from Rhode Islanders and top foundations in the United States, it is an influential nonprofit organization, building community around love, friendship and enthusiasm. Sebastian said: “It creates bonds that can grow ever tighter and give people a feeling of safety and solidarity. That’s something this organization can offer to people now.”
Music is a special treasure for both listeners and creators. Music can be heard on the outside and help people feel understood on the inside. It links people on an emotional and spiritual level often times forming them into one unit and takin them to a wonderful place. Music makes Community MusicWork. Community MusicWork makes music, people, and the community beautiful.