July 23, 2012

Community MusicWorks Managing Director Heath Marlow to Become Program Director of NEC’s Sistema Fellows Program

Uniquely Qualified Musician/Administrator  Succeeds Erik Holmgren Who Becomes Director of Teacher Education and Educational Initiatives at Longy/Bard

New England Conservatory is delighted to announce the appointment of Heath Marlow as Program Director of the Sistema Fellows Program. Marlow comes to the Conservatory from Community MusicWorks, a nationally recognized 15-year old program that builds transformative relationships between professional musicians, children, and families in Providence, Rhode Island’s urban neighborhoods. Since 2006, CMW has also operated a two-year Fellowship Program that prepares young professional musicians for careers that combine community-based performing and teaching.  Trained as a cellist, Marlow was CMW’s first cello teacher in 1999, and since then has held increasingly key roles in the organization before becoming its Managing Director in 2010.

A Massachusetts native, Marlow attended the NEC Preparatory School, received his Bachelor of Music from the Shepherd School at Rice University in 1999, was a three-time fellowship recipient at the Tanglewood Music Center and did graduate studies at Boston University.  An avid chamber musician, he has enjoyed many summers of making music in beautiful locations, including the Berkshires, Banff, Alberta and Blue Hill, Maine.

Community MusicWorks, which operates out of a storefront office in Providence’s under-resourced West End neighborhood, received significant national attention in 2010 when the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awarded CMW’s founder Sebastian Ruth with one of its “genius” grants. In bestowing the award, the Foundation commended CMW for creating “rewarding musical experiences for often-forgotten populations and forging a new, multifaceted role beyond the concert hall for the 21st Century musician.” In recent years, funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has allowed CMW to share its innovative model through regular Institutes for Musicianship and Public Service, including special programming developed specifically for the two most recent classes of NEC’s Sistema Fellows Program.

Marlow’s transition to NEC will begin in August and he will join the staff full-time by the end of October.  Praising his “deep knowledge of grassroots community arts education,” Leslie Wu Foley, Dean and Executive Director of Preparatory and Continuing Education, commented that Marlow’s experience “building CMW and sharing that valuable experience with others interested in pursuing related initiatives makes him an ideal fit for his new position.” He is charged with continuing the development of NEC’s Sistema Fellowship, now in its fourth year of training young leaders for El Sistema-inspired programs throughout the United States. There are currently 30 alumni Fellows doing important work, creating or assisting in community-based music education programs from Juneau, Alaska to Atlanta, GA. Their expertise is in great demand and they are frequently engaged as mentors and consultants to share best practices with newer projects.

“Heath will be seeking the best way to prepare our Fellows for making significant and sustainable contributions to the growing community of Sistema-inspired programs,”
Foley said. “What’s more, he will be scouting out opportunities—consistent with our mission and resources-- for NEC to support the work that is already being done in this burgeoning field.”

Marlow succeeds Erik Holmgren, the former program director, who becomes Director of Teacher Education and Educational Initiatives at the Longy School of Music of Bard College. In his new role Holmgren will oversee Longy’s new Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Program in Los Angeles and spearhead the expansion of masters programs for aspiring musician-educators in other parts of the country. He will join Longy’s senior team for TAKE A STAND, the national El Sistema-inspired education initiative for social change created in partnership with Bard College and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Holmgren’s appointment continues a warm and collaborative relationship between NEC’s Sistema Fellows program and Longy.  Praising his work at NEC, Foley said:
“We are grateful to Erik for the many contributions he has made to the development of the Sistema Fellows over the past two years, and are excited that he has an opportunity to bring his experience and knowledge to a new audience.  We also welcome these deepening ties with Longy School of Bard College, and to many years of partnership and collaboration.”

Karen Zorn, President of Longy/Bard, returned the compliment: “Over the past year we’ve worked closely with Erik and NEC’s Sistema Fellows to strengthen ties within the growing El Sistema movement in the United States. As TAKE A STAND enters its second year, we look forward to building on our shared mission to bring social change through music education to our most underserved communities.”

For further information on NEC’s Sistema Fellowship, click here.


Recognized nationally and internationally as a leader among music schools, New England Conservatory in Boston, MA offers rigorous training in an intimate, nurturing community to 720 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral music students from around the world.  Its faculty of 225 boasts internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars.  Its alumni go on to fill orchestra chairs, concert hall stages, jazz clubs, recording studios, and arts management positions worldwide.  Nearly half of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is composed of NEC trained musicians and faculty.

The oldest independent school of music in the United States, NEC was founded in 1867 by Eben Tourjee. Its curriculum is remarkable for its wide range of styles and traditions.  On the college level, it features training in classical, jazz, contemporary improvisation, world and early music. Through its Preparatory School, School of Continuing Education, and Community Programs and Partnerships Program, it provides training and performance opportunities for children, pre-college students, adults, and seniors.  Through its outreach projects, it allows young musicians to engage with non-traditional audiences in schools, hospitals, and nursing homes—thereby bringing pleasure to new listeners and enlarging the universe for classical music, jazz, and contemporary improvisation.

NEC presents more than 900 free concerts each year, many of them in Jordan Hall, its world- renowned, century-old, beautifully restored concert hall.  These programs range from solo recitals to chamber music to orchestral programs to jazz, contemporary improvisation, and opera scenes.  Every year, NEC’s opera studies department also presents two fully staged opera productions at the Cutler Majestic Theatre or Paramount Theatre in Boston.

NEC is co-founder and educational partner of From the Top, a weekly radio program that celebrates outstanding young classical musicians from the entire country. With its broadcast home in Jordan Hall, the show is now carried by National Public Radio and is heard on 250 stations throughout the United States.

Contact: Ellen Pfeifer
Public Relations Manager
New England Conservatory
290 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115