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Who Are They?: Bay Chambers, Part 1

January 28, 2015

Offering arts experiences for learners of all ages

This blog post is part of a series called Who Are They? where information is provided for the Maine Arts Ed blog readers to learn about community organizations and institutions that provide educational opportunities in the arts. You will learn that they are partnering with other organizations and schools to extend learning opportunities, not supplant.

Bay Chamber Concerts and Music School is the first organization being highlighted. Located in Rockport, they provide rich music opportunities for students of all ages in the mid-coast area. Monica Kelly is the Executive Director and you can learn more at http://www.baychamberconcerts.org/.

Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 7.58.13 PMI was invited to join the Board of Trustees. At that time I had three young children who I was very determined to introduce to music, especially classical music. My childhood was spent surrounded by the arts as my mother was born in Rome, Italy and my father, Dublin, Ireland. Both of my parents were devoted art and music lovers and came from a heritage rich in cultural opportunities. I wanted the same for my children and Bay Chamber was an organization where I saw great integrity and great potential.

I immediately got involved in the education arm at Bay Chamber which, at that time, had a focus on a summer music camp called Next Generation for Maine students who had an interest in playing chamber music together. Along with this intensive program, Bay Chamber offered student matinee performances featuring musicians, dancers and artists that were part of their off-season concert series and a prize program called Young Stars of Maine.

Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 7.58.04 PMLearning about the musical opportunities for children in our community brought me to found a youth orchestra in 2000, independently of Bay Chamber, called Odeon. We started with a very modest group of 8 students of all ages and abilities and grew to over 40 by 2006 when we were invited to merge with Bay Chamber Concerts.

Through that merger, I joined the staff of Bay Chamber as Director of Education. Along with some very passionate board members, we began the long process of forming a music school and in 2011 the Bay Chamber Music School was born. As we were seeing school budgets for the arts cut dramatically in our area, our intention was always to supplement what the schools could do, focusing on private lessons, strings ensembles, and group classes for the very young. We recruited a faculty of professional musicians who have advanced degrees in their instrument and perform regularly in the concert hall. Through the generosity of our donors, we are able to offer a financial aid program that allows us to offer up to 75% of tuition to those who qualify. One of the important ways we try to distinguish ourselves as a music school is by offering many ways for student musicians of all ages to connect with each other and make music together in ensembles.

Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 7.58.22 PMToday our music school sees an average of over 300 enrollments per year and reaches many, many more through our student matinee and community engagement programming. We have partnered with Carnegie Hall and the Passages program of Wayfinder Schools to offer the Lullaby Project, a song writing workshop for teen parents. This spring we are partnering with the Camden Conference to put on a series of Odeon concerts related to their theme, Russia Resurgent.

As the Music School continues to grow and thrive we are always looking for ways to partner with schools to work together to bring live music into the hearts and minds of as many young people as possible. On March 27th at 9:30am at the Camden Opera House, we are offering a free matinee to middle schoolers featuring the a cappella group Overboard. As I write there are still some spots available, so if you would like more information on hearing this dynamic and vibrant in action please contact me at monica@baychamberconcerts.org.

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