Community Music Center of Boston

by Mel Bertoldi (Journalism/Italian), published June 9th 2010

On the dawn of its 100th anniversary, The Community Music Center of Boston is celebrating with a series of 100 concerts. Located at the Boston Center for the Arts in the South End, the CMCB is first-and-foremost a nonprofit music school. It showcases hundreds of professional and student acts and has organized an 18-month-long weekly Kleshinski Concert Series that includes many professional, live, and free shows.

Director David Lapin attributes much of the Center’s success to its constant concern for the communities it serves. Upon its founding in 1910, the CMCB primarily served immigrant children. Today, the CMCB serves more than 4,000 Boston public school students of all ages and skill levels weekly with a focus on less fortunate families and communities, but with a broad range of service recipients.

Such neighborhood outreach has played a pivotal role in securing the school’s reputation among Bostonians, but Lapin says there’s no looking back. ‘€œCertainly it’s a time to celebrate our past but now’s a time for us to view this as a springboard into the future,’€ he said.

The concerts’ performers range from an elementary school children’s choir to contemporary jazz ensembles and classical musicians and are mostly held at Allen Hall, situated next to the Center on Warren Avenue. About 15 of these concerts will be part of the Center’s Signature Series and will not be free.

At a time of such economic distress the CMCB, like all nonprofits, thrives with the help of individual donors as well as big-time investors. Most notably, Fidelity Investments elected the Center as Boston’s premier arts education provider when it launched a middle school outreach program. ‘€œIt’s important to nurture any kind of opportunity for public school kids to have arts education,’€ Lapin said.

Diversification of income is a critical value for successful nonprofits, according to Northeastern graduate human resource management lecturer Rebecca Ruggio. She believes that understanding the motivations of individual and group givers is a necessity. ‘€œWorking toward understanding among donors and workers is really working toward a key juncture, a strong, common bond,’€ she said.

The CMCB faculty engages its students in more ways than one. For instance, the school will hold a ‘€œPerform-a-thon’€ in November, its annual grassroots fundraiser at which hundreds of CMCB students play from 10am to 6pm. The event raises money for the school’s scholarship foundation, and last year upwards of $19,000 went to CMCB families.

‘€œWe will also be doing outreach work in a music therapy site separate from the BPS,’€ she continued, adding that although the tight schedule the Center is arranging for itself is nothing out-of-the-ordinary, such an historic time provides reason to be extra eager.

Run by Director of Outreach Lucy Joan Sollogub, the CMCB’s School Outreach Program coordinates activities and services for neighborhood youth. Examples include dance instruction, ensemble orchestration, private and group lessons.

The CMCB has been applauded for its philanthropic efforts, and The Boston Public Library will host an exhibit about the Center from January through April of next year. Recent landmarks for the CMCB include unconditional accreditation by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Precollegiate Arts Schools in spring 2008.

For more information, visit cmcb.org or http://www.myspace.com/communitymusiccenter

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