The International Artist Initiative

Audience Engagement, Commemorative

Musicovation Celebrates Two Years Online!

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Hey everyone! This is musicovation co-founder Zach Preucil writing to commemorate the two-year anniversary of our site going live! Liz Erenberg is currently touring China with the Denver Philharmonic, but I’m feeling her positive vibes as we celebrate another year of promoting so many incredible people in our industry. Here are some of the many memorable highlights:

Musicians Harness Technology: This year has seen the emergence of new online services geared specifically towards musicians, such as Brett Walfish’s MusicaMatch app and the HireNotes gig service developed by Shaheen Lavie-Rouse and Alex Barstow. Meanwhile, tech-savvy teachers such as Rob McManmon are seriously exploring the benefits of skype teaching.

Orchestral Outreach: Forward-thinking orchestras have continued to demonstrate their cultural relevance through changes in concert presentation, education, and outreach. Our orchestral features included the Houston Symphony’s Community-Embedded Musicians Initiative, the New Bedford Symphony’s mission to connect classical music with the arts and sciences in public schools, and The Orchestra NOW, an orchestral training program of Bard College. Meanwhile, other ensembles have emerged with the goal of promoting a specific genre or community of musicians, such as the Earth and Air String Orchestra, the Empire Film Music Ensemble, and the Refugee Orchestra Project

Rise of the Regulars: We’ve been privileged to have some very talented writers contribute multiple posts to us throughout the year! These have included author Jason M. Rubin’s uniquely insightful articles on a wide variety of musical topics; “Contrabass Conversations” host Jason Heath’s take on teaching, freelancing, and summer festivals; therapist Dana Fonteneau’s posts about her one-of-a-kind “Wholehearted Musician” business and brilliant new book; and multiple updates from Steuart and Michelle Pincombe, who have spent the last several months traveling the country in a 1959 trailer playing concerts in basically every place you can think of that’s not a concert hall. Their fantastic series is called “Music in Familiar Spaces.”

(Literally) Into the Wild: Speaking of getting out of the concert hall, what about getting outside? Or out of the country entirely?! That’s what still other features were doing this year, from Sound Impact’s latest outreach trip to Costa Rica, the International Artist Intiative’s extraordinary work in DR Congo, and Emlyn Johnson and Dan Ketter’s amazing “Into the Wild” project, which commemorates the National Park Service’s hundredth anniversary with concerts in the parks themselves.

Of course, these are just the tip of the iceberg! For our complete monthly archives, head on over to the site’s homepage.

As we continue to expand musicovation’s offerings and outreach, we want to thank all of our loyal followers and contributors for their continued support. One of the things I am most proud of about musicovation is the incredible diversity that we have, both in terms of our features and those who come to learn about them. The music world sometimes seems to be full of barriers, whether they be between different genres, performers and educators, or even simply between musicians and non-musicians. Yet on musicovation, everyone from amateurs to professional orchestra musicians to music appreciators share the same space, engaging in a collective discussion about our future. It is the hope of myself and Liz that the site will continue to be a model for inclusion and innovation in the music world, and most importantly, a continued source of positivity and inspiration.

On to year three!


Contemporary Music, Ensembles, Inspirational Stories, Music for Social Change, Opportunity

Orchestral Music Bringing Cultures Together in Kinshasa

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By Matthew Langford

The International Artist Initiative Co-Founders, Matthew Langford and Michael Tavani, are getting ready for their first trip to Kinshasa, DR Congo to connect with and serve the Kimbanguiste Symphony Orchestra through instrument lessons, sectionals, and spiritual encouragement. The KSO is a church based symphony orchestra that became known as the “Kinshasa Symphony” after gaining international attention from a German documentary. Since its inception in 1994, the orchestra has grown to around 200 members, including a full choir and has performed large orchestral works such as Beethoven’s 9th and Orff’s Carmina Burana. The orchestra’s story is remarkable as the musicians have taught themselves while bringing their community together in a way never seen before.

Matthew and Michael are both highly trained American musicians who are eager to make a meaningful connection with the orchestra members this December. They hope to continue to support the orchestra in the future through private lessons, donated instruments, and musical collaboration.

The International Artist Initiative has joined Generosity’s Giving Tuesday Campaign with a goal of $4000 to help cover the trip expenses. Click here to donate, learn more about this project, and share this inspiring story!

UPDATE (12/21/15): IAI’s Generosity Campaign has ended, but they are still accepting donations via their website! Click HERE to donate.

Follow the International Artist Initiative to the DR Congo this December on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

The International Artist Initiative is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Community Outreach, Music for Social Change

The International Artist Initiative to go to Burundi in 2015

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By Andrew Langford

In America, we have an abundance of music. In truth, we have an abundance of just about everything, but have you ever really realized just how much music we have all around us? Over 100 million people stream music online for an average of 13 hours a week. Buying music is so easy, in any medium–online, CD, or Vinyl–and it surrounds us in so many venues. It’s in our cars, our restaurants and stores, our movies, and it’s quite likely you’re hearing some right now. There is not only quantity, but also quality. There are so many fantastic musicians that never make it big, and competitions and auditions in all of the many diverse genres face intense competition and high standards of quality. We have hundreds of years of musical accomplishments and creations at easy access, and obtaining musical instruments to add what we can offer is most often not an unattainable challenge. But that is in no way true of every country around the world.

It is well known that people in developing countries do often lack the basic necessities of life: food, water, and shelter. However, continue up the hierarchy of needs and you will find further shortages related to the needs for education and art. The presence of music, not to mention the other arts, is incredibly formative in educating and forming conscientious, creative, and well adjusted societies and individuals. Art allows us to express ourselves and communicate in deeper, more meaningful ways; it allows us truer understanding and purpose.

Beyond any lofty explanations for why developing nations with struggling economies need more musicians, it’s also what they desire. Not only is there desire, but there is an enormous amount of talent and ability just waiting to be discovered and grown. Take for instance, the Royal Drummers of Burundi. Never heard of them? Let me assure you that the day you hear and see them live will be a day you will never forget: back flips, dancing, huge drums balanced on the head while being played… this excellent tradition is rooted in centuries of techniques and traditions passed down from generation to generation.

When one of the co-founders of The International Artist Initiative (TIAI), Matthew Langford, traveled to Burundi in 2011, he met an inspirational musician who demonstrated a large vision, desire, and need for musical teaching and learning. Apollinaire is a self-taught saxophone player and worship leader who, since that conversation with Matthew, has started the first formal music school in the entire country of Burundi, The Umudiho Music Academy. Langford and the other co-founder of TIAI, Michael Tavani, traveled back to Burundi in the summer of 2013 to connect with and assist Apollinaire with his small yet vibrant music school and his mission to spread diverse and high-quality musical learning and experience throughout the country. During this past summer (2014), Apollinaire visited the Eastman School of Music to take a music education course with world-class faculty in addition to having private voice and saxophone lessons.

TIAI plans to continue supporting the work Apollinaire is doing with The Umudiho Music Academy by taking teams of excellent musicians to Burundi to perform and teach. One purpose of these trips will be to share in making music with the people of Burundi while also celebrating their rich culture.

This summer, TIAI is going to Burundi with a group of musicians consisting of a brass quintet, a string quartet, a flutist, and a guitar player/worship leader. This historic trip will be the first time that both a brass quintet and a string quartet will perform concerts in Burundi.

To learn more about how you can support and be involved with TIAI’s trip to Burundi this summer, TIAI’s talented artists, and TIAI’s vision for the future, visit
Follow The International Artist Initiative for updates on all of their trips and projects on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.