Arthur Russell Festival for Creative Music Making


2015 Arthur Russell Strings

Arthur Russell Strings (ARS) celebrates new beginnings with an expanded offering retitled, Arthur Russell Festival for Creative Music Making. The program will be held July 2-6, 2018 in Southwest Harbor, Maine.

Join us for two public concerts in celebration of this summer’s festival!

Public Concert to Benefit Westside Food Pantry – Arthur Russell Festival (Thu, Jul 5 @ 7:00 pm)

Public Concert – Arthur Russell Festival Student Performance (Fri, Jul 6 @ 5:00 pm)

Recent media coverage by Mount Desert Islander: click here

Registration is now closed.

Arthur Russell Festival for Creative Music Making is a one-week summer day camp for young musicians ages 11-18 to experience the wonders of musical collaboration in small groups. It is designed to encourage young musicians to experience the joy of musical collaboration, to form deep and lasting friendships, to be coached by professional mentors, and to share the wonder of performance. Younger students (ages 6-10) will have the opportunity to participate in a half-day program.

This year, the 20th anniversary of ARS, the focus is expanding to honor Arthur’s style of music making. The core of the program will continue to be classical small ensembles. In addition, the session will foster new musical connections and encourage wider musical growth through workshops and improvisation, and welcoming any and all instrumentation.

The festival invites applications from students who are curious about broadening their musical knowledge through ensemble playing and music exploration. Offerings will include improv, musicianship and music appreciation, ear training and intensive coaching by highly-trained faculty. On a given day, one group will be rehearsing Mozart while a jazz/composition ensemble is working just down the hall. Mixed group electives will follow with the program’s signature orchestra at the end of the day – working on an arrangement of an original Arthur Russell piece.

In 1998, Arthur Russell Strings was founded as a way to honor the legacy of a New York City avant garde cellist, composer, singer, and musician with ties to Mount Desert Island, Maine. Arthur Russell approached music with a sense of openness and wonder. Arthur’s work spanned the genres of classical, disco, folk and rock. He collaborated with artists like Allen Ginsberg, Talking Heads, and Philip Glass, to name but a few. When Arthur died of AIDS in 1992 at the age of 40, he left a volume of compositions and recordings admired around the world. Arthur may be best rem2015 ARSemberd for the extraordinary and beautiful sounds he produced with his cello and his exploration of the range of musical emotions, from reverence to playfulness.

Interested students and families may direct questions to Ellsworth Community Music Institute at 207-664-9258 or




Nancy Colter

A native of California who now lives on Mount Desert Island, pianist Nancy Colter began her musical studies in the San Francisco Bay area, earned a bachelor’s degree in piano performance from Sonoma State University and completed post-graduate studies at Mills College and Bennington College, where she received a Master of Fine Arts degree in chamber music performance. As a recitalist and chamber musician, she has performed widely on the west coast and throughout New England, and has presented premier performances of works by several contemporary composers.  Ms. Colter’s love of teaching students of all ages led her to become a founding member of both Arthur Russell Strings and ECMI, where she serves as artistic director and a member of the faculty.



Noreen Silver (new) (2)Assistant Artistic Director and cellist, Noreen Silver was born and grew up in Glasgow, Scotland. Her studies took her to London’s Royal College of Music and to Boston’s New England Conservatory as the recipient of a Rotary International Fellowship. Noreen’s professional experience includes several years in Seattle’s Northwest Chamber Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Opera, Boston Opera, London’s BBC Symphony Orchestra, and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. She is now principal cellist of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra and has twice appeared as soloist with the orchestra.  Noreen is currently an adjunct faculty member at the University of Maine, Orono, teaching cello and chamber music.

Additional Guest Faculty

Kallie Ciechomski, viola, violin and improvisation
Beau Lisy, percussion and improvisation
Christina Spurling, piano and improvisation
Paul Sullivan, piano and improvisation
Mark Tipton, trumpet, improvisation and composition