Creative Connections: An Inside Look at Community Outreach

Editor’s Note: A chance connection through AirBnB brought Jill Collier Warne and her family to stay with Susan and me for a week while she was here for work. During their stay, she kindly invited us to attend the concert by Creative Connections, which was the culmination of her week’s effort. This innocent offer of a place to stay led to a performance that literally brought tears of joy to my eyes and made me proud to live in Baltimore.

Jill is the director of Creative Connections. She started her career in Baltimore, but now lives in Michigan. Her co-director for this project is Dan Trahey, Bolton Hill resident and creator of the OrchKids program. I asked Jill to tell the Bulletin about their work.

Jill conducting
Jill conducting

By Jill Collier Warne; photographs by Colin Sorgi

For a week in March, Creative Connections worked with 150 students to collaboratively create an original piece of music that reflected their individual and collective identity.

A joint effort between three organizations, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids, City Neighbors High School and the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, the collaborators ranged from first graders through graduate students.

Many of the younger students attend Booker T. Washington Middle School for the Arts, just a few blocks from Bolton Hill.

Not a single note had been written before the week began. A blank canvas with only an idea—to explore the concept of “leaps and gaps.” By allowing people to share their stories, ideas and emotions, Creative Connections provides the space in which to blend everything together into a beautiful and dynamic piece of music.

It wasn’t easy. Read more, see lots of photos, and some videos