Arnold-Miller Cultural Heritage Program

closeup of hand drums

The Arnold-Miller Cultural Heritage Program offers instruction through culture-bearer led
heritage music and dance ensembles, master classes, and internships in music and the arts.

The goal of the program is to address racial inequity in music and music education by educating students from historically marginalized ethnic groups in their heritage music forms and providing skill building and internships in music performance, music education, and other arts-related professions. The creation of The ArnoldMiller Cultural Heritage Program was inspired by the work and dedication of Billy Arnold and Mary Ellen Miller, CMSS founding faculty members. Both Arnold and Miller have inspired generations of Springfield youth as musical leaders.

The Arnold-Miller Cultural Heritage Program launched with an exciting inaugural season for Spring 2023. Programming offered instruction in three Afro-descendant heritage musics: African American jazz, traditional Ewe music/dance from Ghana and Afro-Puerto Rican Bomba. Students learned these traditions through weekly workshop intensives in the Springfield and Holyoke Public Schools and at CMSS. Instruction was given by renowned Artists-in-Residence who are expert culture bearers in these forms.
In Summer 2023, we introduced several arts internships under the Cultural Heritage Program. opens in a new windowClick here to meet our 12 summer interns!

Workshops for Youth and Young Adults:

Ewe Traditional Music with Nani Agbeli

Nani Agbeli will deliver Ewe drumming and dance instruction to elementary and middle school students in the Springfield and Holyoke Public Schools through weekly workshop intensives. Participating students will learn two pieces from Ghanaian Ewe drum/dance literature: Agbekor and Gahu. Students will be able to learn drumming on the sogo, kidi or kaganu drums, and other percussion instruments that include the axatse and gankogui. Students will also learn correlating dances and songs. Students will learn the background and history of the piece, about Ewe history, and Ghanaian culture and history.

Traditional Afro-Puerto Rican Bomba with Bomba de Aqui

Brendalíz Cepeda leads  opens in a new windowBomba de Aqui, a dance and music company that performs and teaches Afro-Puerto Rican traditions, with a focus on bomba. Instructors include Brendaliz Cepeda, lead dance, Oscar Noel, lead drummer, Saul Peneloza, lead drummer, Gloria Adosta, voice and maracas. Brendalíz Cepeda is the granddaughter of the great bomba performer Rafael Cepeda. A culture bearer in the truest sense, she learned the art and its history in her family. Saul Peñalosa, Bomba de Aquí’s musical director, is a well-known percussionist. The team will deliver instruction to elementary and middle school students through twice weekly workshop intensives. Participating students will learn two pieces from the Afro-Puerto Rican tradition: Sica and Yuba. Students will have the opportunity to learn drumming, the cua, maracas, traditional bomba dance, and songs.

CMSS Perform-A-Thon