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Worcester Enjoys Community Enrichment Through Music Exposure and Education

One sign of a strong, growing community is the willingness of its citizens to fulfill their town's needs. In 2006, flutist Tracy Kraus and violinist Peter Sulski noticed a void in the classical music scene in the city of Worcester, and decided to do something about it. Together they founded the Worcester Chamber Music Society (WCMS), which puts on concerts and hosts a variety of programs designed to promote community engagement through music.

Worcester Chamber Music Society

"We had a large following beginning with our very first concert at St. Paul's Cathedral. Our musicians collectively are recognized in both this country and abroad and therefore, we were quickly recognized as the premier group in Worcester by both the press and our audiences," says Kraus, who also serves as the executive director of WCMS.

WCMS's vision is not insular. As Kraus puts it, "Chamber musicians are collaborators by nature, so we work with cultural organizations throughout the city." Next season's concert schedule demonstrates this- shows are planned with groups across Worcester, including Music Worcester, Old Sturbridge Village and the Worcester Historical Museum. "As a member of the Worcester Cultural Coalition, we cross-market with all of Worcester's musical organizations, as we are a firm believer in promoting all that is going on across the city," says Kraus. "We have a close relationship with the area music schools and offer free admission to all of our concerts for kids under 17."

In addition to teaming up with other institutions around the city, WCMS also reaches out to the community through accessible programs designed to support music education and build new, young audiences. These programs include Chamber Music Camp (which features both daytime and overnight camping options in which students of all ages enjoy coaching, workshops, and concerts by world-class musicians), and Neighborhood Strings, which offers free music lessons in violin, viola and cello to youth from Worcester Main South neighborhood. This program seeks to provide affordable, high-quality arts education and to foster family involvement, according to Kraus. Neighborhood Springs is also supported by WCMS's Musicians as Citizens program, a youth leadership initiative which gives camp students the chance to mentor students of Neighborhood Strings and has been recognized by the Massachusetts Cultural Council's new SerHacer program, a new community music initiative.

Another unique WCMS program is Very Open Rehearsals. Worcester-area residents who are interested in seeing how a piece of music gets polished and perfected by professional musicians are invited to these affordable events, which include a light dinner and are held in private homes and other venues throughout Worcester and environs.

WCMS is careful to keep the core numbers of their company small, which allows a close collaboration among resident musicians and allows the organization the opportunity to bring a variety of guest artists in to work with the company for the benefit of the citizens of Worcester. "This keeps our concerts interesting and fresh," says Kraus. "We are thrilled to celebrate our tenth anniversary next season."

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