10 Years... 10 Stories

An interview project celebrating the tenth anniversary of Community MusicWorks.

Interviews conducted by:

Fidelia Vasquez,
Community MusicWorks cellist & board member
and Chloë Kline, Community MusicWorks Fellow

Special thanks to all of our interviewees for sharing their time and their stories, to Liz Hollander for the inspiration to start this project and brainstorming help, and to Liz Cox for her transcription heroics.

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Tenth Year Violin

10 Years... 10 Stories

    Josh Rodriguez

    Vanessa Centeno

    Sara Stalnaker

    Karen Romer

    Zeeny & Patrice Wolfe

    Tae Ortiz

    Itza Serrano

    Sebastian Ruth

    Carolina Jimenez

    Jesse Holstein

Carolina Jimenez,


Fidelia Vasquez: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, and how you got involved in Community MusicWorks?


Carolina Jimenez: I've been in CMW for eight or nine years now, and I go to Classical High School. I live in Providence, and I play the cello. I first heard about CMW when they were at West End Community Center. I used to go there after school, and that's where they first had their lessons.

FV: Do you remember hearing them for the first time?


CJ: Yes, I do. They came and they played a small piece. I think there were only three of them at the time. And then they let us hold the instruments afterwards, with them watching, and we got to play a little bit. They didn't have a cello, but they told me that there was a cellist coming, and I was like, “Yes! I get to play the cello.”

FV: You knew what the cello was before? How did you know?


CJ: Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. Yo-Yo Ma came on Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. I just thought it was the most awesome instrument on the planet. I started playing my guitar between my legs with a stick, and I remember taking my sister's violin and trying to play it like a cello. It just consumed me. I was, like, “CELLO!” And then CMW came and then I joined it. The amazing thing was that, years later, the Silk Road had a project at the Peabody Essex Museum, and we got this opportunity to go play for them, and I got to meet Yo-Yo Ma. We played Wade in the Water.

FV: What was your reaction?


CJ: I was, like, “Oh my God!! Yo-Yo Ma!” I remember Minna talking to him and I was just standing there… In my head I was asking him, “Can you sign my CD?” but what came out was, “Uhhhuhhhuhh?” I'd left my music binder on a chair while we were playing, and I remember he sat on it, and I was like “Yo-Yo Ma's butt has been on this binder!” I guess that's as good as his signature. I'm not sure.

FV: How do you think CMW has changed your life?


CJ: I don't know how to answer that. It's just been in my life so long, I don't have anything to compare it to. It's just one of those things where I've always had it. But I think if I didn't have Community MusicWorks there, I probably would be a lot more antisocial than I am. It makes me actually go out there and socialize with people, kids my age, like in Phase II. I could not imagine life without CMW.

FV: How have the people affected you?


CJ: They're very supportive, and they're always there for you when you need them. They're always there to help you, to talk to. It's cool. You hang out with them.

FV: How do you think you've grown in the program?


CJ: I'm a lot more social. And I'm probably able to communicate more, since before I didn't talk that much. Being in CMW has sort of boosted my confidence level, so now I'm really up there. I'm more articulate than I used to be.

FV: Can you point to anything specific that's helped with that?


CJ: I think having to go on stage and play an instrument, which makes you vulnerable, because you're expressing yourself in a very deep manner. To be able to go on stage and do this in front of a bunch of people, it kind of brings out more in you.

FV: What was your favorite workshop?


CJ: Matt Haimovitz. Because he was so awesome. He played Jimi Hendrix on his cello, and that's one of the most awesome things I have ever seen. I attempted it so many times, and to see someone actually do it, I was like, “Yes, I can do this.” I wish he had played Purple Haze, that's the one I was trying to play.

FV: What's your proudest moment in Community MusicWorks?


CJ: After I played Danny Boy the first time. It was the only song that I had mastered. I had it down. And then I played it at a Performance Party, and people were crying. Minna was crying, my mom was crying.

FV: Why were they crying?


CJ: Because Danny Boy is such an emotional piece! People were just listening to it and crying. I didn't notice while I was playing; I was intent on getting it right. And then afterwards I look up and people are crying, and I'm like, “Did I play that badly?” And then I was like, “Oh, they're crying because it's Danny Boy. Got it.”

FV: Do you plan to keep playing cello after you graduate? I know that's a long way off.


CJ: YES! I plan to keep playing my instrument. My plan is… I don't know yet. I want to hold a bunch of different jobs. Just because I get bored easily with jobs. I may want to be a music teacher for a little bit. I want to be in theater. I want to be a theater technician. I want to be a chef. A photographer.

FV: How has the community of CMW affected you? This is sort of an unusual situation, to have a string quartet in the community .

CJ: I don't think it's strange, though, I think it's perfectly normal because I grew up with it. Other people may ask, “Well, why are they doing this?” but for me it's like, “Well, why wouldn't they do this?” I think all musicians should give something back to the community. 



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