MY ART STORY by

Jan Boland

Marion
Iowa

Red Cedar at Ainsworth Opera House.JPG

Chamber group playing on stage.

Red Cedar Chamber Music's concert at the Ainsworth (Iowa) Opera House, featuring a new work titled Circle the Wagons. Photo by Julie Zahs

Red Cedar Chamber Music is celebrating its 20th anniversary season in FY16, and the National Endowment for the Arts has had a lively and deeply meaningful impact from the get-go. Even before we (Jan Boland and John Dowdall) co-founded this nonprofit, the NEA played a major role in developing our careers. We each received a coveted Solo Recitalist Fellowship in one of the final seasons they were awarded by the NEA—an honor that led to meaningful collaborations (New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and beyond) and put us on the path to dreaming big. Five years later, as directors and core ensemble with Red Cedar Chamber Music, we launched a popular and meaningful ongoing program called Rural Outreach Concerts, reaching small eastern Iowa communities with live chamber music. The program has received major support from the National Endowment for the Arts for 11 consecutive years. Support from such a prestigious organization as the NEA gets people’s attention. This national ‘stamp of approval’ is important not only for the financial resources it brings to our community, but it encourages local supporters to step up. But most significantly, it brings Red Cedar to those who would otherwise not have the opportunity to experience live chamber music.

The quotes below come from written comment cards filled out by concert attendees.

“This is one of my most delightful music evenings. I’d never be able to travel to a large city to enjoy this. I love the music plus learn new things each time I attend. Thanks for this enrichment to the lives of those in smaller towns.” E.P

I routinely travel 40-350 miles to enjoy orchestral music. It was a wonderful treat to experience it in my own backyard. Red Cedar Chamber Music was a pleasure to experience. The passion and expression that each musician embodied was pure joy to experience. Thank you!!! Anon

“WOW! What an absolute treat for us rural folk to come to town and join our friends for an intimate concert of chamber music in our wonderful new library and to watch Williamsburg life go past outside the windows. Thank you!! Anon

“Excellent as always. Have heard many concerts over the years and have enjoyed them all. Thanks for bringing your rural outreach program to our area.” A.N.

"Every time Red Cedar Chamber Music performs at the Springville Library, I attend if at all possible. These are truly delightful events, featuring outstanding musical talent, wonderful selections, and a cozy and informal ambiance. Jan and John have terrific stage presence, and visit with the audience like old friends.” K.T.

“My first time, to my knowledge, I’ve ever heard chamber music and to my surprise I really enjoyed it. I found with my eyes either closed or looking above I appreciated the music more than when I watched the musicians, although watching you was fun too.” Anon

“Best ever. My 16-year old daughter heard good music tonight.” K.O.