GLI Imagined Community Concert: “Our City, Our Stage” at Community MusicWorks

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GLI Imagined Community Concert: “Our City, Our Stage” at Community MusicWorks

Megan Sesma (author), Sarah Howard, Raquel Serrano, Judith Sweet, and Julia Weldon, Global Leaders ’23 cohort members


CMW Founder and Artistic Director Sebastian Ruth speaks at the launch event for CMW’s new building. Photo: Erin X. Smithers.

Editor’s Note: The Global Leaders Institute (GLI) develops music for social impact leadership through an intensive year of learning and small-group work. As part of GLI’s teaching artistry course, working groups are tasked with researching a youth arts program and then designing a hypothetical community event for that program. These hypothetical concerts have a simple objective: to deepen connections with each program’s surrounding community.

This is the second in a series of imagined concert proposals, shared with Ensemble readers to spark creativity in their own community work. Our thanks to the Global Leaders for sharing their visions of what’s possible.

Community MusicWorks (CMW), located in Providence, Rhode Island, seeks to use music-making to create a cohesive urban community for children and families in the city’s South Side neighborhood. Our group’s concert idea, “Our City, Our Stage,” is a series of events that celebrate 25 years of Community MusicWorks, culminating in a grand opening ceremony for the organization’s new building.

Created by the GLI working group, this collective composition chart identifies five core values the group seeks to promote.

The events we imagined for “Our City, Our Stage” intend to honor CMW’s rich legacy of gathering community voices, centering relationships, and highlighting artistic pathways. In short, we want to help CMW coalesce more fully with its surrounding community. With that in mind, we designed preparatory activities for the community to enjoy together—activities such as community listening sessions, organized by youth leaders, that lead to the creation of mini murals based on community feedback. Those mini murals will serve as the foundation for four permanent artworks created by Providence-based artists for CMW’s new building; these artworks will, in turn, inspire four commissioned pieces of music by Rhode Island composers, to be performed at the grand opening.

This collective artmaking is not just for commissioned local artists; once they have worked on the mini murals, CMW students and community members will also be encouraged to create collective compositions with peers. In addition to CMW teaching artists and guest artists, CMW youth leaders could facilitate and support their younger peers throughout the composition process. The final product would be recorded and played at an outdoor brick pathway—a “Soundwalk”—that visitors can explore. We envision the Soundwalk, supported by local donors, as a chance for community members to listen deeply, to explore the new building space, and to experience the unification of community voices through music.

This strategy chart lays out the pathways forward that the working group has identified. 

The grand opening, our culminating event, will be a celebration of CMW’s core values, fostering a shared exuberance among CMW students, parents, alumni, teaching artists, donors, and staff. Attendees will first be invited to traverse the Soundwalk. Afterward, a pre-recorded video will give a window into the composition process, showcasing CMW’s young composers and highlighting the community’s diverse voices. An opening speech by founder Sebastian Ruth will then highlight CMW’s past, present, and vision for the future. The program will include an artists’ discussion between muralists and Rhode Island composers about the inspiration behind their pieces, plus the premiere of a student’s original composition performed by both students and alumni.

With “Our City, Our Stage,” our group hopes to underscore the ways that CMW is transforming and inspiring personal excellence within its community. The music and murals created for the event will reflect the voices of its community, providing inspiration for generations to come.


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