Music Worcester presents inspiring musical experiences and educational opportunities throughout Central Massachusetts.


From Adrien C. Finlay
Executive Director of Music Worcester,
endowed by the McDonough Charitable Foundation

We entered last year as a team of Board and staff members having learned some difficult lessons. Music Worcester returned to live concerts post-pandemic, mounting performances around Greater Worcester at many beloved venues, but we were perhaps a bit too quick to return to a pre-2020 level of programing. Summer@MW forms a core component of our annual presentations, but we booked major artists in close succession (Wynton Marsalis and Rhiannon Giddens) in 2022 and did not realize our ticketing goals. While the talent we brought to stages around the region included true legends across multiple genres (Brian Stokes Mitchell, Béla Fleck, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, & Ballet Hispanico, just to name a few!), it became apparent that audience behavior has changed since March 2020 and Music Worcester could not expect its usual marketing and communication strategies to produce prior results.

As 2023 arrived, a more optimistic outlook took hold. An evening of Bach’s complete Brandenburg Concertos with the virtuoso forces of the Handel & Haydn Society witnessed a capacity crowd at Mechanics Hall. Inspirational collaborations led by our Worcester Chorus featured Master Singers of Worcester, Worcester Children’s Chorus, New England Repertory Orchestra, and Clark University’s Concert Choir in works by Duke Ellington and opera composers from across the centuries with guest conductors Cailin Marcel Manson and Ed Tyler joining Chris Shepard.

Adrien C. Finlay

Music Worcester Executive Director


Way back in 2021 Music Worcester joined a commissioning consortium of presenters nationwide to fund the creation of Dance Theatre of Harlem’s latest ballet at the time, Sounds of Hazel, a work celebrating the trail-blazing blazing life of Hazel Scott. Becoming a co-commissioner served to expand Music Worcester’s involvement in DEIA initiatives, going beyond a repeat engagement of this multi-ethnic company to assist in their creative process and vision of dance for the 21st century.

The Worcester performance of Sounds of Hazel took place in May 2023 at The Hanover Theatre with the son and grandson of Hazel Scott engaging in a pre-concert talk and discussion moderated by Deborah Hall, CEO of the YWCA Central Massachusetts.

Deborah Hall of The YWCA Central MA with Hazel Scott’s grandson, Adam C. Powell IV, and great-granddaughter at The Hanover Theatre.


The sometimes frenetic but always inspirational violinist and humanitarian who served as Music Worcester’s 2023 Artist-in-Residence led the organization on an incredible journey last year.

While his public performances were so noteworthy and full of “firsts”— a solo recital, chamber music with his newly formed Darshan Trio, concerts with Chester Englander on cimbalom (an instrument I had never heard of before), welcoming Kuchipudi dance artist Yamini Kalluri to several events, multiple concerts with area youth orchestras, leading orchestral-choral forces for a culminating performance—it was how he embraced Worcester and its communities that continues to amaze us months later.

VIjay Gupta, 2023 Artist-In-Residence

Above: Gupta visiting students and their families at India Society Worcester in November 2023.

Thanks to Vijay and his visionary understanding of community engagement, in 2023 Music Worcester:

• welcomed audiences to the new Prior Performing Arts Center at The College of the Holy Cross,

• had an artist featured on Boston Public Radio on GBH with Jim Braude and Margery Eagan, where Vijay spoke about his full year as Artist-in-Residence with Music Worcester,

• engaged in an initial partnership with OpporTUNEity, a weekly program of songwriting and composition classes and workshops for inmates of the Worcester County Jail. Their works were brought to audiences during Vijay’s solo recital at Mechanics Hall,

• brought dance, via Yamini Kalluri and her Kritya Dance Ensemble, to Mechanics Hall, Tuckerman Hall, and new spaces around the city, including the Southeast Asian Coalition, and LIFT (Living in Freedom Together),

• introduced visiting guest artists to youth music ensembles, including the Worcester Youth Orchestra and Westborough High School orchestra and choir programs, in their own series of concerts with Vijay as a concerto soloist,

• debuted a partnership with the Interdisciplinary Studies program at Worcester State University, bringing Vijay and his guest artists, including Chester Englander and composer Reena Esmail, to campus classrooms for keynote presentations on “Musician as Citizen,” and

• worked with the India Society of Worcester for an initial program, bringing Vijay to their families participating in their youth programs in conversation and performance.

And this is just a brief summary of the new connections and relationships Vijay helped foster!



In the midst of Music Worcester’s year with Vijay, we also started a strategic planning process. Engaging a team of consultants through ESC (Empower Success Corps), a host of initiatives and activities occurred for the first time in the organization’s history—detailed interviews with a range of supporters, a community survey that garnered over 400 responses, in-depth committee and board work at meetings and retreats to identify major themes and strategies, SWOT analyses.

From Left To Right:
Yamini Kalluri (Kritya Dance Ensemble)
John Wayne Cormier Jr. (OpporTuneity)
Vijay Gupta (Artist-In-Residence 2023)
Lew Evangelidis (Worcester County Sheriff)
Melissa Martiros (OpporTuneity)

May 2023
Mechanics Hall

Vijay Gupta presented a video during his When The Violin program featuring the OpporTUNEity composition and songwriting students at the Worcester County Jail.

May 2023
Mechanics Hall
Photo by Jullian Valadares

As I write this, we are close to completing the strategic plan, which will inform the next five years of operations and aspirations, and make the Artist-in-Residence program an annual major endeavor to serve our community to an even greater extent.

Concert Truck’s return in September 2023 allowed for other new relationships to form for Music Worcester, as the piano duo brought their unique setup to Sofar Sounds of Worcester and the new Worcester Cultural Academy charter school. Sofar Sounds serves as a concert presenter aiming to bring audiences together for unique concerts in surprising spaces. Musicians ranging from singer-songwriters to blues artists took turns with Concert Truck’s pianists in enthralling the audience at the beautiful courtyard outside of Fuel America on grove Street.

The Cultural Academy opened its doors just this past fall, and their students enjoyed Concert Truck’s school-age show incorporating selections ranging from classical to jazz with plenty of student participation.

During their week with us in Worcester, Nick and Susan of The Concert Truck performed as part of a popup concert with Sofar Sounds.

September 2023
Fuel America (Grove Street)

Vijay Gupta, violin, & Chester Englander, cimbalom, performed in The Beehive at the Prior Performing Arts Center at the College of the Holy Cross.

March 2023 
Photo by Troy. B. Thompson

A new form of ticketing was initiated for Music Worcester, starting in 2023 as well. The organization joined the Mass Cultural Council Card to Culture program, which seeks to increase access to the arts for all, here in Massachusetts.

Working through the Department of Transitional Assistance, Massachusetts Health Connector, the WIC Nutrition Program, and the State’s EBT card system, Music Worcester welcomed almost 400 individuals free of charge to events throughout the year.


The Board of Directors also took a decisive vote in 2023 to significantly influence the next decade of presenting, culminating in a major Bach anniversary in 2035.

While supporters should expect a full announcement this spring, in conjunction with The Worcester Chorus’ B-minor Mass performance on May 5, we can’t wait to share the news! Combining the strengths of Music Worcester as a presenter along with our unique proximity to so many musical colleagues and partners both here in Massachusetts and over state lines, this long-term project will be a “first” not just for Music Worcester, New England, or the United States, but indeed a first-ever initiative, period.

I look back at 2023 and the many ways Music Worcester changed operations and became more connected to our community with great pride. That an organization with such longevity has been able to pivot and adopt new approaches and outlooks remains a tribute to our expanding family of donors and patrons. It has never been such an exciting, or challenging time.

Thank you for staying involved as we continue to maneuver in this post-pandemic reality for the arts and culture sector across our community.





Anthony Smith, President
Eric Brose, Vice President
Gabriel Cain, Treasurer
Angela Knapton, Clerk

Joel Popkin, M.D., Trustee Emeritus

Bruce Bursten
Kirk A. Carter, Esq.
Mary Fletcher
Alvin Gomez
Aldo Garcia Guevara
Emily G. Holdstein
Bonnie Johnson

Christine Keller
Alice Lambert
Jeffrey Levine
Meredith Lord
Cynthia Pitcher
Margaret Pottle
Kenneth Prince

Kathleen Rooney
Bob Sorrenti
Wakana Suzuki
Virginia M. Vaughan, Ph.D.
Patricia Verderese
Karen-Louise Walker, Th.D
Margaret Wong