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What started out as a coffee table conversation among friends who wanted to provide younger audiences with both the opportunities to attend classical music events in casual attire and social moments to enjoy with friends and performers culminated in the formation of ClefWorks in 2006. The premiere season was held in Montgomery in the summer of 2007, with the underlying concept of “demystifying” classical music by engaging all ages with an art form that many, surprisingly, already had a connection to – often through music lessons as a child or simply from hearing melodies in movies, commercials and Saturday cartoons. 

Since its initial season, ClefWorks has promoted the education and enjoyment of chamber music through a series of annual performances in the capital city. Live classical performances focus on innovative programming and family-oriented education, with a special interest in arts enthusiasts seeking a new cultural experience. Last season’s featured musicians, Del Sol, a San Francisco-based string quartet, are the two-time winners of the top Chamber Music America/ASCAP award for Adventurous Programming.


During their stay in Montgomery, Del Sol performed for Montgomery audiences in concerts held at 129 Coosa, a venue chosen in keeping with ClefWorks’ model of selecting out-of-the-box spots for concerts. Prior performance locations for musicians have included The Capri, the farm at Hampstead, ASF’s Octagon Theatre, street side in Old Cloverdale, and the newly-renovated City Auditorium.


A feature of this year’s season was Del Sol’s premiere of two new pieces written by rising young stars in composing circles. Robert Honstein’s work, “Arctic”, was played after being chosen by Del Sol as the winner of the ClefWorks Composition Competition. Robert was the eighth winner of a ClefWorks-sponsored competition for aspiring young artists. Past entries for the annual competition have come from spots around the world, including Australia, Croatia, Greece, Israel, South Africa and the United Kingdom.


“The Named Angels” by Mohammed Fairouz premiered on the west coast only one week after being played by Del Sol in Montgomery. Opportunities to meet composers of both pieces were offered to ClefWorks audiences, including a lecture and talk back by Del Sol and Mohammed for students and faculty at Huntingdon College. Because promoting classical music to all ages and levels of artistic experience is part of the ClefWorks mission, ClefWorks not only provides outreach concerts during its annual season but also throughout the year.


Flowers and E.D. Nixon Elementary Schools and the YMCA GoodTimes Program were three of ClefWorks’ outreach partners during this past season. Through grant monies and with volunteers from the Junior League of Montgomery, students at these locations were exposed to multiple classical music concerts during the 2013/2014 school year. Favorite activities for the kids included instrument “petting” zoos and interacting with the musicians. These concerts provide students who are often culturally underserved with repeated opportunities to enjoy world-class musicians. ClefWorks believes these events promote creative thinking among students and perhaps spark an interest in playing the violin or cello.


From its inception, ClefWorks’ founding visionaries successfully partnered with other artistic disciplines and media to establish stronger connections between concertgoers and classical music. In the premiere season, ClefWorks partnered with the Alabama Dance Theater for a dance collaboration held in the galleries of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Art. In 2010, while the string quartet JACK performed a piece by the composer Xenakis, local artist David Braly created an oil painting. The completed work was displayed to the audience after the rousing performance. Actors have taken the stage in multiple seasons, most recently when actors from the Cloverdale Playhouse channeled Igor Stravinsky (John McWilliams) and Frank Zappa (Sam Wooten) during Fireworks’ performance of the music of Stravinsky and Zappa in one concert.


ClefWorks recently elected new officers, including Board President Marie Rians. Marie is in her third year on the ClefWorks Board and has previously been involved in event planning, fundraising and outreach efforts. Other current board members are Jenny Thiessen, Michael Dalton, Jan Bigham, Melissa Johnson, Jason Gardner, Jacque Hart, Clint Graves, Meg Lewis, and Dean Norton. Board members include former college band members, current church orchestra members, a cellist with the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra, singers, and music lovers.


The Board, along with ClefWorks’ Advisory Committee and Artistic Committee, is currently making plans for ClefWorks 2014/2015 Season. Upcoming events will be announced later this summer, with a big announcement coming in a few weeks about multiple concert opportunities featuring exciting musicians in relaxed settings. Current plans are for a season kick-off in late summer/early fall.


For persons who wish to volunteer with ClefWorks, or businesses who want might want to partner with a local school, opportunities to donate time and resources are welcome. ClefWorks can always use hands-on help with concert logistics, including things like publicity, ticket sales, stage set up and providing musician meals and travel. Interested businesses, groups, and individuals can become outreach sponsors with monetary donations that ensure local students have world class concerts in their schools during 2014/2015. For information about how you can be a part of the music making, contact ClefWorks’ Executive Director, Leah Stephens, at 334.546.2529 or by email,

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