BY JESSICA HALLAM
Ever since musician Sebastian Ruth joined the School of Music as a visiting lecturer this fall, his broad portfolio of work in community outreach through music has proven a strong asset to the Music School’s community.
Ruth has been nationally recognized for his work as founder and director of Community MusicWorks — a public service group that allows musicians to help urban communities in Providence, R.I. through outreach to the city’s children and their families. In 2010, Ruth and Community MusicWorks were awarded the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award by first lady Michelle Obama and Ruth received the esteemed MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.
“What impresses me so much about [Ruth] is he asks why we should do this… That, to me, is a really important question,” Yale School of Music Dean Michael Yaffe said.
He added that Ruth requires his students to consider how their music can impact communities beyond the concert hall. As visiting lecturer, Ruth currently teaches a course titled “Music and Service” and works with students participating in the Music in Schools Initiative, which supports music education in New Haven public schools. Ruth’s extensive experience in using music as a mechanism for social change provides a new perspective to the community at the School of Music trying to effect such change in New Haven, according to School of Music administrators interviewed.