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Students and Community Artist Fellows Showcase Their Collaborations

Curtis collaborated this spring with Girard College, SoundLAB, the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, and Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission, among others.

Community-based projects are an essential part of a Curtis education, informing students’ development as artists and empowering them to invent careers with impact after their graduation. Learn more about the full Artist Citizen curriculum at Curtis and explore our students’ work from the Spring 2021 semester.

The Curtis Institute of Music collaborated again this spring with new music ensemble SoundLAB and the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University. Students in the Social Entrepreneur class at Curtis collaborated with artists who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication devices (AACs) and composer Robert Whalen. Together they explored the idea of inclusion by transforming Curtis’s and Temple’s statements on diversity, equity and inclusion and creating erasure poems set to music.



Clarinetist Sara Han, a student in the Community Artist Program, led a project she designed with Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission. She collaborated with Community Artist Fellows Justin Goldsmith and Ted Babcock and filmmaker Eamon Kelly to create a work of music and film that incorporates stories from guests at Sunday Breakfast. Together they explored the sounds and images of Philadelphia as we navigated this difficult year. 



Members of the Social Entrepreneur class partnered with students from Girard College (ages 15–18) in North Philadelphia in the fall and spring semesters. The end result is “Message in a Bottle,” which expresses their thoughts on the many challenges of the 2020–21 school year.

Oboe student Jamison Hillian, trumpet student James Vaughen, and piano student Avery Gagliano—who also recorded vocals for the project—provided musical tracks to words and beats created by the Girard College students during the fall.

In the spring the collaborators from Girard provided lyrics and recorded vocals while Curtis musicians contributed beats and instrumental tracks (Danny Yehun Jin, violin, keyboard, sequencing; William McGregor, double bass and sequencing; Aaron Patterson, organ; Takumi Taguchi, violin, keyboard, sequencing; Yoonsoo Yeo, cello and sequencing).



Some highlights from “Message in a Bottle” include:

  • 0:22 - Girard College Fine Arts Chairman Paul Eaton calls his students to action
  • 3:35 - trumpet solo by James Vaughen
  • 11:07 - original song “Gen Z Up”
  • 11:39 - piano solo by Avery Gagliano
  • 19:35 - oboe solo by Jamison Hillian
  • 21:25 - spring semester final project


The Community Artist Fellowship program is generously supported by Professor Frank F. Furstenberg Jr., in memory of Nina Segre.

The Curtis Institute of Music received funding from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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