Coming Soon – Kaleidoscope

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The Newport String Project is delighted to announce details of the second concert of its season. On December 13th, the project presents “Kaleidoscope” an evening of 20th and 21st century music for strings, percussion and electronics. The concert will take place at Empire Tea and Coffee, 22 Broadway, Newport.

Newport String Project directors and resident violinists, Ealain McMullin and EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks will be joined by guest artists Lauren Latessa, cello and Piero Guimaraes, percussion. The concert will feature dynamic, colorful and inventive works by Honstein, Prokofiev, Ravel, and Volness.

The evening begins at 6.45pm with “Tune In!” a pre-concert conversation with the musicians sharing insights into the process behind the music. Performance begins at 7.30pm.

Admission is by donation – all welcome.



MAURICE RAVEL – Sonata for Violin and Cello

KIRSTEN VOLNESS – Etoiles de Mer for cello, percussion and stereo sound

SERGEI PROKOFIEV – Sonata for Two Violins

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A season of gratitude and giving









“Like a tree, I’m standing tall…” is the opening line of a poem that is very familiar to the violin and viola students of the Newport String Project. It invites the students to stand with steadiness, flexibility and pride as they hold and play their instruments. It also serves as a gentle reminder about the importance of noticing the ground beneath your feet and finding your roots.

This idea has special relevance for us in the second season of the Newport String Project. This year, our focus turns towards strengthening the roots laid during the pilot year, as well as peeking skywards and trying new things.

At this time of year, we feel especially thankful for all the community support that has enabled the project to become more than a “seedling”. In that spirit, we would like to share some of the highlights of our second season so far…

Nurturing the spark

Jayden Connor playing

This fall, we are delighted to have expanded our educational programming at the MLK Center, almost doubling student enrollment. In addition to their twice weekly group lessons, our 14 continuing students (ages 5-10) now receive weekly individual lessons. While the group classes offer the rewards of being part of an ensemble, we have also noticed the eager anticipation with which the students ask, “Do I have my lesson today?” This one-to-one environment creates a unique space for each student to thrive.

And the community of student musicians is growing! Since October, thirteen new students (K and 1st graders) participate in a weekly group class called Music in Motion. Through storytelling, singing and movement games, the students are learning crucial fundamentals that will prepare them to participate in Paper Orchestra in January.

Building community connections


Our students recently brought their music-making into the community, performing as the opening act at “Roll Up the Rug”, a family dance workshop, presented in partnership with Common Fence Music. This high-energy event, featuring the Rusty Pickup String Band, drew an enthusiastic audience from all across Newport county for an afternoon of fiddling, dance and laughter. With more family workshops in store, we look forward to strengthening the connections between families throughout the community.

Enriching the concert experience

Bows in the Air

Launching with a memorable concert of quartets by Haydn and Beethoven, our concert season is off to a wonderful start and we look forward to bringing seven more inspiring concerts to Newport audiences. New this year is our “Tune In!” series of pre-concert events, enabling the audience to learn about the background and process behind the music, and to connect with our exceptional guest artists.

As the program continues to deepen its roots, your support will enable the Newport String Project to grow stronger and stand taller. We hope that you will consider including the project in your annual giving, as we continue in our mission to enrich community life in Newport through access to inspiring musical experiences for all.

With gratitude,

EmmaLee and Ealain

Newport String Project Directors

For further information on ways to donate, please click HERE.

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Duo of Versatile Violinists Feature in Newport This Week

We are delighted to share this article about the Newport String Project from Newport This Week by Mark Gorman.

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Highlights from the Rusty Pick Up String Band Residency

November was a busy month for us here at the Newport String Project! In collaboration with Common Fence Music, the Newport String Project hosted “Roll Up the Rug – an old time family dance workshop” presented by the Rusty Pick Up String Band.

Roll Up the Rug

To kick-off the fiddling proceedings, the young violin and viola students of the Newport String Project gave a rousing rendition of the Chicken Reel.

Isabella Juan Diego  DSC_1454  DSC_1448  Connor and JaydenJayden Connor playing IMG_20141122_141431IMG_20141122_141444

It was a proud moment for the young musicians – made all the sweeter for their teachers by the discovery of this anonymous note after the event was over! (We have it on good authority that the viola students are equally as proud!)


This was followed by a fabulously energetic workshop of foot-stompin’, toe-tappin’, handclappin’ fun, led by master caller Jim Hicks, with music by Newport String Project director EmmaLee on violin, the endlessly energetic Peggy Holmes on keyboard and Common Fence’s own Tom Perrotti on guitar.

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And for some footage of the fancy footwork, click here to watch perennial favorite Seven Jumps!

If you missed the workshop this time around, fear not – the Rustys will be back on February 15th for another Community Dance at Emmanuel!

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Snapshot from the classroom

We are delighted to have expanded our educational programming to include weekly individual lessons for this year’s continuing students. This one-to-one lesson is a special time, when each student can shape their learning, focusing on what is inspiring to them and fully realize their strengths.

And while our students love their individual lessons, learning together brings a lot of joy. Here is where friendships are deepened and the classroom community is strengthened. Group learning is at the core of the famed Venezuelan music education system, El Sistema. One of the values El Sistema students learn from the beginning is that “As soon as you have learned something, it is your responsibility to teach it to someone else.” This practice of peer mentoring is one that takes many years to build but creates a deep sense of community among the students and is a reminder that music is an oral tradition.

The practice of peer mentoring is something we hope to instill in the students of the Newport String Project. In these clips, two of our students practice the skill through role play – taking turns being the teacher and the student. As you can see, while learning how to hold the bow is a serious and sophisticated business, there is still plenty of room for fun!

Part I

Part II


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Roll Up the Rug, Old Time Family Dance Workshop

Come join us for a trip back to pioneer days. We’ll recreate the old-fashioned barn dance with the authentic hoedowns, reels, square dances and games that the early American settlers enjoyed. Young and not-so-young, families and singles, everyone is invited. The Rusty Pickup String Band will provide the toe-tapping tunes and an experienced dance “caller” will teach you everything you need to know. It’s contagious fun that few can resist.
Common Fence Music Hall
933 Anthony Road, Portsmouth, RI
November 22, 2 – 4 pm
For more information call 309-256-0043
Brought to you Free of Charge 
by Common Fence Music and the Newport String Project 
as part of this season’s Horn of Plenty Music.

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Scenes from our opening concert

It was a rainy evening but a perfect one to head inside to listen to some chamber music. We were delighted to launch our “Tune In!” series with a pre-concert talk by guest artist Jesse Holstein. The event created a wonderful connection ahead of the performance which was a festive and optimistic launch of our second season!

10.4.14 concert (80)  10.4.14 concert (66) 10.4.14 concert (74)  10.4.14 concert (60) 10.4.14 concert (68)  Emmy at Tune In

10.4.14 concert (6) 10.4.14 concert (10) 10.4.14 concert (11) 10.4.14 concert (34) 10.4.14 concert (46)Bows in the Air Giggles

Many thanks to Melanie Saunders for these images.

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From Farm to the Grocery Store

Fresh from our retreat at Avaloch Farm Music Institute, EmmaLee and I made a pop-up appearance at A Market on Bellevue Avenue to play some violin duos ahead of our performance at Emmanuel. Amidst the fresh greens and pumpkins, we shared duos by Bach, Bartok, Leclair and a few fun fiddling treats.


Many thanks to the staff at A Market and the cheerful customers who chatted with us on our visit! Keep your eyes peeled for stealthy Newport String Project pop-up appearances! Got an idea for a fun surprising place for a pop-up concert? Get in touch!  


(Thanks to our friend from Common Fence Music Tom Perrotti for this shot! Check out the wonderful work of Common Fence Music here.)

– Ealain

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Avaloch Days

Ahead of our second season concert opener, EmmaLee, Jesse, Heath and I had the blissful opportunity to “retreat” to New Hampshire to the beautiful setting of Avaloch Farm Music Institute. Surrounded by the fall foliage in extravagant form, we found ourselves in the perfect place to explore the Haydn and the Beethoven together. With the busyness of day-to-day Newport String Project life temporarily on hold, we were ready to dig in to the process. Rehearsals featured nitty gritty decision making (“how about a down bow there?” “can we take a little time there?”), tried and trusted rehearsal techniques (rehearsing with backs to each other) and the occasional dramatic reading of Heath’s notes from his Beethoven Quartet Seminar at Rice.


Rehearsal breaks often featured trips to the bottomless cookie jar (thanks Diane!), sunset canoeing and bonding with four-legged friends.

Resolving Rehearsal differences

Heath and Emmy resolving rehearsal differences

Jesse meets Jesse

Jesse meets Jessie

Posing with Snoozer


Posing with our muse Snoozer

Of course, few things will energize an appetite more than rehearsing string quartets. Happily, there was no need for alarm as Avaloch’s culinary maestro-in-residence Will took wonderful care of us all. Mealtimes were a highlight, not only for the food, but as a chance to connect with our colleagues from the other visiting chamber groups – the Diderot Quartet and the Meadowlark Piano Trio. In that shared experience of focused rehearsal, an easy and natural sense of camaraderie evolved. On the final night of our stay, each of the groups performed for an intimate audience of guests at Avaloch. From movements of Haydn and Mozart exquisitely performed on period instruments by the Diderot Quartet to a memorized performance of Ravel Piano Trio by the Meadowlark to the epic journey of op. 130, it was quite an evening and inspiration to treasure!



Avaloch 2014

A heartfelt thanks to Fred, Deb, Will, Diane and all the staff at Avaloch for their work in bringing this special place to life…


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Introducing October’s Guest Artists


Jesse Holstein, violin and viola

Jesse Holstein, violinist and violist, is a founding member of the Providence String Quartet, and has been a resident musician at Community MusicWorks since 2001. A graduate of Oberlin Conservatory, he completed his graduate studies with James Buswell at the New England Conservatory. He is an active recitalist, orchestral, and chamber musician, and serves as concertmaster of the New Bedford Symphony. In 2003, Jesse was invited to join the faculty of the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music. He has performed as a guest artist at the Montana Chamber Music Festival and Bay Chamber Concerts. In 2009, he performed the Brahms Double Concerto (with PSQ cellist Sara Stalnaker) with the Rhode Island Philharmonic Community Orchestra.



Heath Marlow, cello

Heath Marlow is the director of the Sistema Fellowship Resource Center at the New England Conservatory. Heath came to the Conservatory in 2012 after spending more than a decade associated with Community MusicWorks, a nationally recognized organization that builds transformative relationships between professional musicians, children, and families in Providence’s urban neighborhoods.
A Massachusetts native, Heath received his Bachelor of Music degree from the Shepherd School at Rice University, was a three-time fellowship recipient at the Tanglewood Music Center, and did graduate studies in cello performance at Boston University. A chamber music enthusiast, he has enjoyed many summers of making music in beautiful locations, including the Berkshires, Banff, Alberta and Blue Hill, Maine.


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