We had the opportunity to speak to Tracy Klaus, Executive Director at the Worcester Chamber Music Society, about their Neighborhood Strings 10th Anniversary Benefit Concert on June 9th at Mechanics Hall.
“This is a really special evening of performances that we’re very excited about,” says Klaus, as we discussed the history of Neighborhood Strings, a program through the Worcester Chamber Music Society that began in 2012. Neighborhood Strings provides a free violin, viola or cello to youth in Worcester’s marginalized areas along with private lessons for every student as well as a daily ensemble. Thanks to recent funding, including a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts, Neighborhood Strings has been able to expand their program which will increase the daily ensembles to beginners as well as advanced students
“It’s a beautiful program that has grown and blossomed. We started with 12 kids at Woodland Academy, which is the elementary school by Clark University, and today we have four sites and we’re up to 85 students,” Klaus explains. One of the sites is at Clark Street Elementary School, where every student in the “New Citizen” program is given a violin. Klaus is quick to credit the “big heart” and passion of Deborah Greenbaum in this “very special program” that focuses on newly arrived refugees to Worcester.
“We have a very special piece, actually two pieces that we’re going to be performing that night that connect to the refugees in our program,” Klaus says. Artist, composer and pianist Milad Yousufi will perform the world premiere of his piece, “My Journey to America”, which tells the story about his experience as an Afghan refugee. Klaus is equally as excited to share Yousufi’s fellow guest artist Simone Dinnerstein will be performing as well. “She’s just an incredible pianist and we’re thrilled she’s coming to play with us.”
Of course, the real stars of the show are the The Neighborhood Strings musicians. This dedicated group of students, ranging from ages 6 to 18, are looking forward to performing. “It’s really special for them to play a concert in a magnificent concert hall like Mechanic’s Hall,” Klaus says. The Neighborhood Strings 10th Anniversary Benefit Concert is from 5:30 to 8:30. Tickets are $150 for floor seating and $75 for balcony, and are still available at www.mechanicshall.org/tickets/neighborhood-strings-10th-anniversary-benefit-concert