A Farewell and Appreciation

We want to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation to Ashley and Jaime who will be leaving their positions at the Newport String Project this fall. Their beautiful contributions to the Newport String Project have sealed their places in the ever-expanding NSP family. We are so fortunate to have worked alongside these two very special musicians who enabled us to launch the very first quartet-in-residence at the Newport String Project. The impact of their work and presence will be felt at NSP for many years to come. As they each embark on exciting new chapters of their professional journeys, we send them our love and support and look forward to visits from them in the future!

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In addition to launching NSP's very first preschool music class at the MLK Center, Jaime enabled us to offer cello lessons for the first time, designing an exciting curriculum for budding cellists. Jaime will no doubt continue to bring her creativity to her new role at the Meadowbrook Waldorf School. This year, Jaime will also be expanding her teaching practice at the Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School and the Moses Brown school and will be performing with ensembles across the New England region.

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With an ever thoughtful approach to her teaching and her students, Ashley brought so much to our educational programs last year. She also played a key role in piloting a new strand of concerts which saw NSP collaborate with local community meals, bringing music to audiences affected by food and housing insecurity. In June, Ashley accepted the MusicWorks Network Fellow position at our parent organization Community MusicWorks. This role will see Ashley visiting youth mentoring and social justice programs across the country. In addition to gathering new practices from these programs, she will be piloting youth workshops that explore the intersection of music, cultural identity and wellbeing.

Thank you, Jaime and Ashley!

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Season Opening Concert

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On Sunday September 16th at 2pm, the Newport String Project brings a dynamic program of string quartets to the Ilgenfritz Gallery.  Project directors and violinists, Ealain McMullin and EmmaLee Holmes Hicks will be joined by Ethan Wood (viola) and Zan Berry (cello). Don’t miss an unforgettable afternoon of chamber music exploring works by Haydn, Shostakovich, Schulhoff and Mahdis Golzar Kashani.

The concert will open with Haydn’s exuberant String Quartet in C Major, op 20, no 2. The opus 20 quartets (also known as “The Sun Quartets”, after the cover illustration on the first edition) surpassed any that came before in terms of scope, expressive range and musical sophistication. Shostakovich wrote his remarkable third string quartet against the backdrop of World War II and increasing political pressure on artists and scientists. The piece was thought to include coded criticism of Stalin’s regime. The concert will also feature music by Erwin Schulhoff, a Czech composer heavily influenced by jazz and ragtime whose life was cut tragically short by the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany.

To mark the opening weekend of the Newport Art Museum’s Shape of Birds exhibition, the concert will include an evocative piece inspired by Persian folk music, by emerging Iranian composer Mahdis Golzar Kashani.

TICKETS: Museum Members: $10; Non-Members: $15; Newport String Project Supporters: $30.

All tickets include admission to the Museum.

Tickets can be reserved online HERE or by calling the Museum at 401 848 8200

Noted for its eclectic and innovative programming, the Newport String Project is committed to presenting highly expressive performances of masterworks, alongside works by emerging and rarely heard composers in intimate, inclusive settings throughout Newport.

Year-End Appeal

Dear friends,

It has been a remarkable fall at the Newport String Project! Over the summer, we were fortunate to be able to hire two wonderful colleagues, Ashley Frith (viola) and Jaime Feldman (cello). Now with a full complement of four musicians, we are performing and teaching as the Newport String Project’s first quartet-in-residence, the Newport String Quartet. Only three months into our fifth season, we are experiencing the positive impact of this change in many exciting ways.

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In sharing the following highlights, it is important to emphasize that these programs are made possible by the generosity of supporters like you. We hope that you will consider making a donation this month to help make possible our fifth year of creating inspiring and accessible musical experiences for all.

Our free after-school music programming at the MLK Center is thriving. With the addition of Ashley and Jaime, our enrollment jumped to 39 students who participate in twice-weekly lessons. For the first time, we can offer cello lessons, meeting our goal of offering instruction in all the instruments of a string quartet. And a Very Young Musicians class, led by Jaime, is engaging an additional 15 preschoolers in a curriculum of movement, dancing and singing.

Due to our increased capacity, more children than ever before are benefitting from one-to-one mentoring, increasing the amount of individual attention for each student. Students are even getting their first taste of chamber music, working together in small groups.

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Alongside our busy teaching activities, the Newport String Quartet’s performing life has also had a busy start. From outdoor performances at the Broadway Street Fair to more traditional concerts at the Newport Art Museum and Trinity Church, we are digging into the question of how a string quartet can play a meaningful civic role in Newport.

There is still time to catch the Newport String Quartet in action in 2017: Please join us on Sunday, December 17th at 3pm at the Redwood Library for a vibrant program of works including Mozart’s sublime String Quintet in D Major, K. 593 and Prokofiev’s evocative String Quartet No. 2.

We also want you to know that, behind the scenes, we are hard at work developing plans to bring the Newport String Project into its next phase of organizational development. A five-member advisory committee is supporting us to become our own 501c3 nonprofit organization in 2018, increasing our infrastructure and building a board of directors.

Thank you for your enthusiasm for our work—we appreciate your support so much. Please consider including the Newport String Project in your year-end giving. Donations can be made through our website (www.newportstringproject.org/donate) or mailed to the Newport String Project, 1392 Westminster Street, Providence RI 02909.

With gratitude,
EmmaLee and Ealain
Newport String Project Directors

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A season of change and momentum - a reflection from the Directors

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Our fifth season has brought many concrete changes - new students, new staff members, new curriculum elements - and as we reflect on the journey since the Newport String Project launched four years ago, we are struck by the more hidden impact of these changes.

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This year, we are fortunate to be joined by Jaime and Ashley as Associate Musicians. And while their presence makes a huge difference in lots of public ways - performing as the Newport String Quartet and expanding our student enrollment - we are already noticing the impact in less visible, although still very tangible ways. We see it in the warmth of the interactions between Jaime, Ashley and the families in the program. We also see it though the new games and songs that our students are learning from them. From our perspective as directors, it is also wonderful to have two more people to share teaching stories (and challenges) with - there is simply a sense of having more company for the journey ahead.

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Our student enrollment is currently at thirty-nine - a significant increase from the twenty-five students in our first year. What that number doesn't reveal is how the recruitment process has evolved since the program's launch. Parents now have a deeper understanding of what the program has to offer and spread the word with other families. The students are eager for their school friends to join and the "sibling effect" has been a powerful factor in inspiring younger brothers and sisters to get in on the action. There is an increase not just in the numbers of students, but also an increase in the complexity of the learning environment. In the first season, students participated exclusively in group classes. Today students are participating in both individual lessons and group classes. Students are making progress at different rates and in different directions. Providing responsive teaching is demanding, rich work that requires significant planning time. We are also noticing a beautiful deepening of parent engagement. More parents than ever are staying to watch the lessons and are highly motivated to know how they can help their child practice at home.

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Perhaps most striking of all has been a shift towards a sense of pattern, routine and ritual. It is especially exciting to see how the students who have been with us since the beginning, are spontaneously making the experience their own. Every Newport String Project day is jam-packed with tiny moments, successes and details that remind us of the importance of embracing the twists and turns of long-term journeys.

Change seems to follow a cycle of happening "bit by bit", seemingly "not at all" and then magically "all at once". This season has a little bit of that "all at once" energy. We hope to continue to share perspectives from students, parents and audience members throughout the year on how the Newport String Project's work is evolving for them. If you would like to support our mission, please consider making a gift through our Donate section.

With best wishes for the holiday season

Ealain and EmmaLee

Newport String Project Directors

Fifth Annual Paper Orchestra Building Workshop

The happiest of chaos - hard as it is to believe, the FIFTH paper orchestra began its journey last week! This event never fails to be fun-filled mayhem and this year had the added excitement of building cardboard cellos for the first time. As always, it proved to be a fantastic opportunity for the moms, dads and siblings to get in on the action as the newest crop of young musicians begin their journey!

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You can never have enough masking tape!

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Collaboration is key!

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The painting station is definitely a big favorite!

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Making paper instruments... and making memories together!

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It's gonna be a big year!

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Newport String Project Quartet at the Broadway Street Fair

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“When the quartet was asked to perform some classical hits and pop tunes at the Broadway Street Fair, i had no idea what reaction to expect. As our first chord drifted through the square, I felt the passing crowds’ curiosity shifting towards our sound. As we continued to play, a small audience grew in front of us, happily applauding after each selection. I noticed children with their parents, and families with their friends smiling at us. Passers-by occasionally stopped to comment, “loving it!” or “keep it going!” I was touched by the appreciation and enthusiasm we received, and honored to be playing on this bright afternoon, in such a beautiful town as Newport. I realized how incredible it was to be giving the community something to enjoy, while we were enjoying the entire process. As we invited our audience to join our musical experience, they further welcomed and enjoyed our music. What had 30 minutes ago been a space of individuals and separate groups, had suddenly united a small crowd of all ages as they experienced music together.”

-Jaime Feldman, cellist

 

Season Opening Concert at the Newport Art Museum

An exciting start to our fifth season at the start of this month! The first movement of Schubert's String Quintet in C Major was our musical curtain raiser and gave us a wonderful opportunity to welcome the Newport String Project's new cellist-in-residence Jaime Feldman. We were thrilled to be joined by longtime NSP favorites Jesse Holstein and Heath Marlow for a performance of Beethoven's epic String Quartet in c sharp minor op. 131. 

The concert was the culmination of another rehearsal retreat at the incredible Avaloch Farm Music Institute, where we ate so much delicious food, met inspiring musical colleagues from all over the country and savored the opportunity to dive deeply into the incredible universe of op. 131! 

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Meet our new Associate Musicians - Ashley & Jaime!

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This year, we are thrilled to welcome Ashley Frith (viola) and Jaime Feldman (cello) to the Newport String Project as Associate Musicians! Together with EmmaLee and Ealain, they will be performing as the Newport String Project's first quartet-in-residence. As well as performing, they will be joining our teaching staff and leading new pieces of educational programming. Here they share a little bit about their backgrounds, what brought them to the Newport String Project and what they are looking forward to this year...

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"My name is Ashley and I hail from Miami, Fl. It was there (aided by my Jamaican heritage) that I developed a dependency on the sun and mangoes. When I was 10 years old, my music teacher at school needed an excuse to get students to play a big, but really beautiful, instrument none of us had heard of. He told me, because I was a tall girl (but definitely not the tallest), that this was the instrument for me. And thus, my relationship with the viola began. 

When not attempting to gently coexist and create with my large musical companion, I'm hopefully spending quality time with miniature humans. It is an absolute joy getting to help them comfortably and happily coexist with their music-making partners (wooden and human). Sans music, I'm hopefully eating something really tasty, that preferably came from a tree or a bush. I'm so excited to join the amazing humans of the Newport String Project this year, and equally excited to get acquainted with Aquidneck Island. I always thought that Florida aspired to be an island, but got separation anxiety."

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"My name is Jaime, I am thrilled to be joining the Newport String Project this year as the cellist in residence. After attending a live chamber music performance at the Kneisel Hall Music Festival in Brooklin, ME., I was determined to play the cello. I later fell in love with chamber music as a twelve year old student at Music@Menlo festival in Palo Alto CA, captivated by a performance of the Emerson String quartet. I love playing chamber music with others, and am passionate about mentoring and teaching young children. I believe learning to collaborate is fundamental to our society, which starts with children’s education. Teaching children how to listen, have fun, and work together in a music ensemble gives them important life-long skills, and is the key to a strong and supportive community.

This fall of 2017, I am excited to be launching Newport String Project’s first pre-k program, an introduction to music making for ages three-five. I’m forward to performing for diverse audiences, and continuing to connect with and bring music to the various communities in Newport. In my free time, I enjoy running on trails, summer-time hiking in the Maine woods, picking wild flowers, trying new cheeses, conversing with every new cat or dog I meet, and traveling to new places."

Spring Appeal

Over the past four years, the Newport String Project has grown into something very special. It is more than a concert series, and more than an after-school program. Our work does not fall into one category or the other – it embraces both performance and education, and in the intersection, it creates fertile ground for meaningful community engagement.

When we launched the Newport String Project four years ago, our goal was to establish a resident string quartet by our fifth year. That milestone is fast approaching and we are more committed than ever to making this idea a reality.

Why a string quartet?

String quartets model collaboration through a nuanced four-way process of expressing ideas, listening, and adjusting to each other. In today’s divisive social and political climate, these processes are more needed than ever. A string quartet provides a powerful model for exploring how neighbors interact and how they can create change in a community.

As Newport’s resident string quartet, we plan to

  • Energize the musical landscape through performances that transform perspectives and expectations
  • Expand opportunities for kids to learn an instrument, develop musical curiosity, and ignite imaginations
  • Participate actively in the local ecology of organizations working towards greater social inclusion

What will it take?

We are prepared to seek out and recruit two highly qualified professional musicians—a violist and a cellist—to join us in Newport. Each week, they will perform, rehearse, teach, and mentor alongside us. Now we need your financial support to make this possible. Our community’s support has been integral to the success of our first four years, and it is essential for driving our work forward to its next phase. While we prepare to launch our fifth year in September, we need to meet our goal of raising at least $10,000 by June 30. Raising this amount will allow us to take the steps necessary to establish a resident string quartet in Newport. Every gift – whether $5 or $5,000 – will help us get there. For details on how to make a gift, click here.

We are grateful for all of the encouragement that we have received to date, and we couldn’t be more excited as we enter this next stage of growth. Thank you for your generous support of our important mission.

Thank you!

EmmaLee and Ealain

Action shots from our May Student Recital

Monday's student recital featured group performances by students from all four years of the Newport String Project's existence. The wise and experienced fourth graders cheered for the kindergarteners and first-graders. And when it came time for the most advanced students to show off their skills, the youngest students were noticeably impressed! The enthusiasm of the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and teachers in the room was especially palpable and gave a very special flavor to the evening. The students are now preparing for a recital of solo performances on June 5th - for any community members interested in attending, please RSVP to ealain@newportstringproject.org

Many thanks to Barbara Renner for these images!