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Castle of Our Skins Wins George Henschel Award


How many BMInt readers know anything of the history of one of our sponsors, the Harvard Musical Association? The private charitable organization founded by Harvard College graduates in 1837 maintains a longstanding tradition of commissioning new works, supporting local nonprofit musical organizations, and giving prizes and awards to young performers.

The Association announced one such award last week, a grant of $5,000 to Castle of Our Skins for a concert honoring the 100th anniversary of the women’s suffragist movement and celebrating the power of women’s voices. According to COOS president Ashleigh Gordon, “Fiber art and spoken word poetry showcases will be woven into the concert experience. Black women poets, quilters, musicians, and composers will all be elevated and celebrated.” Click HERE for the details.

The worthies of the Association encourage organizations dedicated not only to the performance and composition of serious music, especially chamber music, but also to the development of steady, attentive audiences appreciative of this kind of musical experience to apply for the annual Harvard Musical Association’s George Henschel Community Awards HERE.

More on all of HMA’s awards and grants can be found HERE.

The HMA Community Awards Program supports Boston area organizations dedicated not only to the performance and composition of serious music, especially chamber music, but also to the development of steady, attentive audiences appreciative of this kind of musical experience. In particular, we seek to fund innovative and original undertakings. Recent examples are: audience development initiatives (including on-line and web-based options), artist-in-residence programs, teacher education, music-based community service projects, instrumental competitions, audience participation and inter-active performances, collaborations between and among established ensembles, and special performances that enhance and strengthen existing organizations. We support proposals that feature outreach campaigns as well as concert performances at the highest level. We also look to provide funding that will help the participating groups to leverage support from other financial sources.

The chairman of the Henschel Committee writes to local musical organizations each year with a request for abstracts. The committee winnows the abstracts and identifies organizations from whom a full proposal its requested. 

The Henschel Committee encourages abstract submissions that meet the following criteria.

  1. Projects that focus primarily on chamber music.
  2. Organizations located geographically east of Interstate Highway 495, i.e., the Boston metropolitan area.
  3. Organizations for which a grant of $1,000 – $5,000 will make a significant difference in whether they can execute the proposed project.
  4. Organizations with a track record of musical performances that are generally viewed as high quality, creative, and thought provoking.
  5. Organizations that are at least three years old.
  6. Organizations that are financially solvent.
  7. Organizations approved for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status with the IRS.
  8. Organizations that have not received a previous George Henschel Community Award within the two seasons prior to that covered by the current application.
  9. Organizations that have received a previous award at least two seasons prior and have provided a final report on that project to the HMA.
  10. Performing, presenting, and music educating organizations should send their requests-for-abstracts to:

All grantees to submit an end-of-project report that addresses:

  • Achievability
  • Timeline for execution
  • What resources the organization currently has for executing this project and what new resources it must develop (personnel, financial, etc.)
  • How the organization plans to complete funding for the project if awarded the HMA grant
  • How an award (or non-award) of an HMA grant will affect the organization’s ability or timing for executing this project

Measurements of Success

  • Audience size or number of participants, expected versus actual
  • Audience/Participant feedback, positive and negative, including whether they would participate again and/or recommend it to a friend
  • Press acclaim
  • New development resources the project produces
  • Opportunities for collaboration the project generates

All the judges are long-standing HMA members. They include a librarian and the former program director of WCRB, a senior lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management, a composer and professor of composition at Berklee College of Music, as well as musicians, HMA Board members and concertgoers, and philanthropists.

1 Comment »

1 Comment [leave a civil comment (others will be removed) and please disclose relevant affiliations]

  1. This is fitting recognition for Castle of Our Skins and for HMA.

    Comment by Bill Blake — May 11, 2019 at 12:42 pm

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