After six incredible years of leadership and music making, EmmaLee has made the very difficult decision to step down as the director and resident violinist of the Newport String Project.
I remember when Ealain and I first visited the Newport community, almost eight years ago. I was struck by the charm and beauty of the city with its Gilded Age mansions and its yacht-filled harbor. As we looked deeper into the fabric of this city and began talking to residents and city leaders, we discovered there existed, amidst Newport's rich history and admirable commitment to preservation, a community of families living in less fortunate circumstances. And that is where we targeted our program of music and hope, of performances and mentorship.
From those early days in which the program was just an aspiration fueled by ideas from community leaders, it became a season of colorful paper violins and lively group lessons with singing and dancing and a sharp learning curve for both Ealain and me. Those first seasons, we hired guest musicians to join us and introduced the concept of approachable concert experiences to the community. As the project expanded, we figured things out as we went and we gained strength in the support of the community and especially of long-time advocates like you who helped fill our sails. The Newport String Project has now grown into a full-fledged organization with a board, a string quartet in residence and some 40 violin, viola and cello students and families. Ealain and I have grown, too, in our understanding of the complexities of serving the children in the MLK program and of forming a non-profit entity.
After months of deliberation and with the program now firmly anchored, this seems to be the pivotal time for me to cast my net in other musical seas. With a heavy heart but with full confidence that Ealain can guide this ship during this period of transition, I am stepping down as co-director of the project. I believe so strongly in NSP's mission and vision and I believe in Ealain and in all of you to continue to steer this vessel in a direction that enhances the lives of the students and the community. I offer my help during this passage from two directors to one.
How encouraging and empowering it is to have a group of supporters and donors who truly believe in our mission and who are working to make the organization as good as it can be. I feel certain you will chart a course that keeps the program growing and changing in response to the needs of the community and the students.
I thank you for your support and encouragement. It has been invaluable. And I look forward to an ongoing relationship.