Experiments at the crossroads of performance, education and community

This week, we are joined by guest musicians Marjorie Gere, violin, Daniel Sedgwick, piano and Joe Bentley, bass, for our upcoming concert at the Redwood Library. This collaboration is a special one because it will be a pilot for a new type of residency, that the Newport String Project hopes to experiment more with in the future. Dan at the piano

So how will this week be different?

  • Often a combination of scheduling and geographic factors mean that most of our rehearsing happens outside of Newport - this week we will be doing more rehearsing at locations around Newport. We hope to open up some of these rehearsals as open rehearsals - this will be an opportunity for curious folks to take a peek behind-the-scenes during the preparation process. Stay tuned on our Facebook page for details about that.
  • Marjorie will be stopping by the MLK Center to do a series of workshops with Newport String Project students. Something we often think about is how to create meaningful connections between our students and the guest musicians. Not only is it inspiring for the students to hear new perspectives on what they are learning, it makes them aware of their connection to a much larger community of Musicians. (Of course, the guest musicians are also lucky enough to get to hang out with a fun, cool group of students.)
  • The musicians will be out and about in Newport - so you might run into them at the coffee shop, strolling around, just being in Newport... We can't wait to see how all of this feels different to other guest musician residencies.

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Stay tuned for the "post-game analysis"!

Barndance Highlights

The rainy afternoon was no deterrent at all for our barndance-loving friends. To kick proceedings off, the students of the Newport String Project performed a plucky medley of fiddle tunes with flair. (The Chicken Reel was renamed the Turkey Reel for the occasion by our students - in honor of the approaching Thanksgiving feast!) Jayden Jayla


Then it was time for the Rusty Pick Up String Band with special guests Tom Perrotti and Mike Fischmann...


After a few simple instructions and demonstrations from master caller Jim Hicks...

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they were OFF!

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A huge thank you to our partners Common Fence Music and the Boys and Girls Club!

Also many thanks to Don Farias for his fabulous photography!

And don't forget - there'll be another barndance in February!!!!!!!!!!!

Newport String Project at the Redwood December 12th

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The Newport String Project returns to the Redwood Library on Saturday December 12th at 3pm, with a vibrant program of works for strings and piano. Violinists EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks and Ealain McMullin will be joined by guest musicians Joe Bentley (bass), Marjorie Gere (violin) and Dan Sedgwick (piano) for an intimate afternoon of chamber music in the beautiful surrounds of the Harrison Room.
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The program includes Mozart's exquisite Violin Sonata in A Major K526, Brahms' dreamy Violin Sonata in G Major and Jon Deak's theatrical trio "The Wager at the El Dorado Saloon". Based on an episode from Jack London's novel The Call of the Wild, Deak's piece calls upon the musicians to play different characters in the story filled with howling wolves, breaking ice and the hubbub of a western saloon... Not to be missed!The concert begins at 3pm. Admission is by donation - early registration is advised for this concert as seating is limited. Make a reservation by calling the Redwood Library at 401-847-0295, ext. 112.

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Check out the Facebook event here:


Swing yer Partner - Old Time Family Barndance

CFM Rusty PIckup poster PROOF3 for web (1) One way to kick up fun for the whole family is with an old-time barn dance.  And that's just what's happening Sunday afternoon, November 22 from 2 to 4, at the Boys and Girls Club on Church Street.

Fiddle champ EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks and the Rusty Pickup String Band will provide the authentic hoedown music for this free event.  And master dance caller Jim Hicks is coming all the way from Illinois to lead the dances.

This get-together is presented by the Newport String Project, in partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Newport County and Common Fence Music.  A highlight of the afternoon will be a performance by the young fiddlers and violists from the Newport String Project.

Sunday's dance will mark the third appearance in Newport for this lively band and caller, and each previous time the hall was packed with families having a toe-tapping good time.

The dance caller, Jim Hicks, explains that his job is to teach each dance so that everyone knows what to do before the music starts.

"When you pair music with simple family-friendly dances," says Hicks, "it's a formula for a whole lot of merriment."

Hicks adds that most of the dances he teaches are traditional.  They harken back to America's pioneer days when families would end a week of chores and farmwork by gathering with neighbors at a homemade hoedown.

Fiddler Holmes-Hicks grew up playing for barn dances in the Midwest.  "There's nothing like an old-timey dance to bring people together," says Holmes-Hicks, co-director of the Newport String Project.

"I love to watch the dancers respond with their feet and their energy when I strike up a lively tune," Hicks says.  "This music has been passed down through generations of fiddlers with just that intent--to inspire a roomful of people of all ages to join a fun activity that everyone can do, no matter the age or experience."

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Prince Charitable Trusts' Award to the Newport String Project

Beethoven We are delighted to announce that the Prince Charitable Trusts has made an award of $30,000 in support of the Newport String Project’s third year. The Prince Charitable Trusts played a pivotal role in launching and establishing the Newport String Project, which aims to create inspiring contexts for community building through music performance and youth mentoring. The award will not only provide crucial financial support - it will enable the program to deepen its impact in the community as it returns for a third season of imaginative and diverse programming.

We are honored by the continued investment from the Prince Charitable Trusts and deeply appreciate their commitment to making engaging and inspiring musical experiences accessible for all.

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The Prince Charitable Trusts supports programs that improve the quality of life for residents of the city of Newport and Aquidneck Island.

Violins, violas and PUMPKINS!

11051805_1068471833186858_4460978334965657133_n (1) We couldn't resist this photo op with our students, fresh from their seasonal performance at the annual Trinity Pumpkin Patch. In spite of an extremely blustery afternoon, the students valiantly managed to keep their bows on the strings and had so much fun - especially choosing a pumpkin to take home afterwards. Naturally, the most appealing pumpkins were the ones that required a grown-up to help with the lifting! Many thanks to our friends at Trinity Church!


Opening Concert of the Season

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On Sunday October 4th at 7pm, the Newport String Project presents a vibrant and high-energy program of works for strings in the intimate surrounds of the Hawes Room at Trinity Church.

The concert will feature music for string quartet by Astor Piazzolla and Felix Mendelssohn, alongside Kristapor Najarian’s evocative violin duo “A Tale for Two Violins”.

Violinists and directors EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks and Ealain McMullin will be joined by guest artists Tanya Maggi (viola) and Heath Marlow (cello).

WHEN Sunday October 4th 2015, 7pm WHERE Hawes Room, Trinity Church, 141 Spring St, Newport RI, 02840 PROGRAM Astor Piazzolla Four for Tango Kristapor Najarian A Tale for Two Violins Mendelssohn String Quartet No 2 in a minor, op 13 ADMISSION Suggested donation $10, $25, $50+ All donations directly support the performance and educational programs of the Newport String Project.

Highlights from the Season Finale Concert

An exceptionally fun week of rehearsals with guest musicians Jesse Holstein and Chelsea Bernstein came to a close with a great afternoon of music at the Great Friends Meeting House on Saturday. Our thanks to theNewport Historical Society for hosting us so generously. Thanks also to photographer Jack Renner, Newport Vineyards and The French Confection. And finally, an extra special mention for our students Autumn, Amari and Jayden for their courageous and stylish performance of Hot Croissants and Au Clair de la Lune! 2010 copyright and iptc info

2010 copyright and iptc info

2010 copyright and iptc info

2010 copyright and iptc info

2010 copyright and iptc info

2010 copyright and iptc info

Newport County Fund awards $5000 to the Newport String Project

The Newport String Project is delighted to be the recipient of a grant from the Newport County Fund of the Rhode Island Foundation. This funding will provide key support to our educational and performance programming in our third season. We deeply appreciate this investment from the Newport County Fund as we work towards creating a vibrant environment for our students to learn and thrive.  

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Jayden Connor playing




Season Finale Concert at the Great Friends Meeting House

IMG_4523 Join us for a festive afternoon of string quartets in celebration of the Newport String Project's second season...

Directors and violinists EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks and Ealain McMullin will be joined by guest musicians, Jesse Holstein (viola) and Chelsea Bernstein (cello). The program will feature string quartets by Mozart, Weinberg and Ravel.

Co-presented with the Newport Historical Society, the concert will take place in the unique and historic surrounds of the Great Friends Meeting House.

The performance begins at 4pm and will be followed by a reception. Admission is by donation - all proceeds will benefit the performance and educational programming of the Newport String Project...

If you have attended a Newport String Project concert and liked what you heard, bring new friends and spread the word!

Spring is here!

Who can resist a little learning musicmaking amidst the famous Newport daffodils? We took our class outside to the grounds of the Great Friends Meeting House. IMG_20150504_163054




Right before launching into a soulful rendition of Hot Cross Buns, student Amari noticed people strolling around in the distance also enjoying the sunshine, and declared excitedly "Hey, now EVERYONE can enjoy our music!"

In the Classical Style at the Redwood Library

In the beautiful surrounds of the Harrison Room at the Redwood Library, we were thrilled to share a program of string quartets from the height of the classical era. Guest artist Jesse Holstein shared an insightful pre-concert talk as part of our Tune In series, which set the stage for a high-energy afternoon of vibrant chamber music. NSP Redwood-7 NSP Redwood-2

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Our thanks to the Redwood Library, Frank Leith of the Newport Photographers Guild and the enthusiastic concert-goers.

Flights of Fancy at the Norman Bird Sanctuary

Flights of Fancy On Thursday, April 30th at 7pm the Newport String Project returns to the Norman Bird Sanctuary with Flights of Fancy, an evening of traditional fiddle music and poetry. Drawing upon birds and flight as inspiration, we invite you to join us in this mingling of lyricism in word and melody. Fiddler EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks and guitarist Mike Sokolovsky will be joined by poet David Dragone and reader Adrienne Taylor to bring you a performance that invites your imagination to take wing.

When: Thursday, April 30th at 7pm

Where: Mabel’s Studio at the Norman Bird Sanctuary, 583 Third Beach Road, Middletown RI 02842

Tickets: $20 members, $25 non-members

Early registration advised - REGISTER HERE.

Storytime at the Newport Public Library

A paper violin comes to LIFE! Paper violins

On March 28th at 10:30 at the Newport Public Library, the directors of the Newport String Project will present a morning of music and storytelling.

Children and their parents are invited to listen to, and participate in, the story of Diego and his magic violin. Diego will be joined by the class of beginning students from the Martin Luther King Center and together they will demonstrate how a paper violin can become real through the power of music.

The audience of parents and children will enter into the story as Diego and his friends learn to make their paper violins sing. Through song and movement, children will discover what happens when you sprinkle a little magic on a paper violin.

The story is especially intended for five- to ten-year-olds, but all are welcome.

The power of a little inspiration

This year's beginner violinists are busily working away with their lovingly crafted paper violins but what about those second year students that already have instruments? These young violinists and violists are progressing beautifully - demonstrating "5 star" bowhands, chasing the art of smooth bowing and relishing the challenges of finding notes with the left hand. It can be a daunting moment - suddenly, the scale of the journey ahead is being revealed and it can become a little overwhelming. Now more than ever, the new skills must be practiced in order to become natural. While our students never cease to inspire us with their progress, it is a good time to have a little extra help on hand. Last week, Newport String Project parents were invited to the MLK center to discuss the importance of practice. Using the metaphor of an iceberg, we talked about how students that show up at class reap the rewards at the "tip of the iceberg", but that access to the richest rewards of learning an instrument are "below sea level" and only come with consistent and healthy practice. We explored some strategies and discussed the challenges of already overstuffed family schedules. Still, it was an excellent first step in brainstorming ways to continue learning and ritual beyond the classroom.

After a nuts-and-bolts week of drilling skills with students and outlining practice strategies with parents, it was more than time to take a step back and remember the big picture... Fortunately, we had a visit from an extra special group of young musicians who could put the conversation into perspective.


On Monday, the students, families and friends of the Newport String Project gathered at the MLK Center for a community dinner. A wonderful feature of its community programming, the MLK Center regularly hosts community dinners and generously offered to host a dinner for families enrolled in the Newport String Project. As families sat down to delicious plates of pasta (thank you Chef Jamie!), it was a special treat to introduce a group of visitors from our parent organization Community MusicWorks in Providence. Longtime CMW parent/board member/volunteer extraordinaire Linda Daniels was on hand to share her perspectives on being the parent of a young musician. The centerpiece of the evening was a performance of a Telemann 4 Violin Concerto by Andrew, Alana, Heather and Jessenia - all members of Community MusicWorks' innovative Phase II teen youth leadership program. To witness this quartet in action of course demonstrated the importance of long-term commitment to learning an instrument, but it was also a beautiful reminder of the way that music is an oral tradition that can connect people from different communities.





Afterwards, our students were inevitably wowed by these cool teen violinists. Violinist Connor shook his head anticipating that it might take a long long time to get "that good". Another violinist Juan put down his cupcake and declared emphatically that the Telemann was "INCREDIBLE". We couldn't agree more!


In the Classical Style - Quartets at the Redwood on March 22nd

IMG_1340 The Newport String Project returns to the Redwood Library for a program of masterworks for string quartet by Haydn and Mozart. From rollicking rhythms to luscious largos to delectable dissonance, this program has a little something for everyone. Violinists and Newport String Project directors EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks and Ealain McMullin will be joined by guest artists Jesse Holstein, viola, and Megan Koch, cello. Call 847-0292, ext. 112, to make a reservation.

Join us on March 22nd for Tune In! at 2.15pm and Performance at 3pm.

PROGRAM Franz Joseph Haydn - String Quartet in D Major, op. 76 no. 5 "Largo" Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - String Quartet in C Major "Dissonance", K. 465

Admission is by donation.

Paper Violin Building - the 2015 edition

One of the highlights of the pilot season was when our first pioneering group of Newport String Project students created cardboard violins and violas in collaboration with their parents. (Read more about the Paper Orchestra here.) This week, it was the turn of our new first year students and their parents! This is just the only the beginning of the road for the paper violins - check back soon for updates... Many thanks to NSP parent Katie Bendl for capturing these images for us! cardboard pieces 7  9 13 8 16    1014 1211  painting18 2519 2421 23  violins on shelf