Over the past 5 years of existence, Castle of our Skins has had the pleasure of producing various community events and working with children and youth in diverse neighborhoods in Boston and beyond. Our first educational workshop - A Little History - has touched well over 1500 people, most of whom are young. COOS believes in planting seeds, in an attempt to change the stereotypical and racially fraught image of Classical music and musicians. This is not just an attempt to make this beautiful music cool and accessible, but more importantly to right an aggregious wrong that has been unleashed in the world: the myth that Black people were not involved in Classical music during its beginnings, and the myth that the greatest Classical composers are - as Dorothy Rudd Moore once believed - "male, white (European), and dead."
Last year and this year, Castle of our Skins had the pleasure and honor to work with community ensembles for the Roxbury and Dorchester StringFests produced by Celebrity Series Boston. For the 2018 Dorchester StringFest, COOS worked with students at the Conservatory Lab Charter School in Dorchester. Our work included three workshops on the new pieces that were composed for both COOS and the students to perform, an in-class performance/masterclass visit, and the final performance. Ultimately, the collaboration turned out to mean so much more. Not only were the students introduced to Haitian and Dominican arragenements composed specifically for them, but they also saw young, professional Classical composers and musicians of color - people that I rarely saw growing up.
After such events, I always look back and imagine myself as one of the students. I look back and think that perhaps now these students are taking the color of my and Ashe's skin for granted; that such issues do not matter so much in the eyes of the student, and that their primary concern is making music as a group. I look back and think that when some of them go to conservatory and encounter a world where not even 5% of the orchestral music performed by major orchestras includes work by composers of color, that they will be in a stronger position to change this deplorable statistic. This is why COOS goes into the community - TO EFFECT CHANGE!!!
Castle of our Skins cannot effect change without generous donations from its fans! This month, every Tuesday is #GivingCOOSday! Please consider scrolling up, and - to the right of BIBA - click DONATE and make a donation of any size! For now, please enjoy one of the results of our collaboration with the students of the Conservatory Lab Charter School! (Click below!)