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Portland Symphony hopes to multiply funding for lullaby project

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Portland Symphony hopes to multiply funding for lullaby project

PORTLAND — The Portland Symphony Orchestra has launched a crowd-sourced funding campaign for a project that began at Carnegie Hall in New York.

The Portland Lullaby Project, with a fundraising goal of $15,000, runs through Dec. 5. It will help 10 new or expecting mothers by partnering them with five PSO musicians and two local songwriters to write personal lullabies for their children.

PSO Director of Education & Community Engagement Rose Kue said the organization wanted this project to be community driven.

"Portland is a really diverse community with a number of resources available, but the resources are not available to everyone," Kue said.

Kue said music is a resource for families, and unlike a parenting book, these lullabies created by mothers will immediately connect the parents and their children.

"When we think about our role in community, we're not just helping mothers or babies, we're helping families," Kue said.

New York composer Tom Cabaniss will conduct a lullaby writing workshop, with the goal of 10 simple lullabies coming from journal entries the participating mothers work on with case managers and support staff at Opportunity Alliance and Maine Medical Partners. A local composer will then arrange the lullabies for small ensembles.

Kue said the musicians haven't been chosen yet, but there will be an open application period after the fundraising has been completed.

Created by Carnegie Hall's Musical Connections program, Lullaby "is a creative experience that helps young women and their partners imagine themselves as parents, bond with their babies, and establish positive support networks," according to the project's Kickstarter page.

Kue said the project started as a way to address the challenge of mothers incarcerated at the Rikers Island prison in New York. She said music became a way for the mothers to communicate with their children and express their feelings in ways they were unable to before.

The PSO is one of a dozen organizations chosen to expand the program, all doing variations of Lullaby. Kue said PSO was approached because of its past outreach work.

With just under two weeks left to go in the fundraising campaign, the project has raised almost $4,000. Kue said if they are unable to raise the funds in time, the project probably won't happen because they don't have another funding source for the project.

"If we're not able to fund it through this campaign, we're wondering if the community wants to support something like this," Kue said.

If funding is successful, Maine Medical Partners' Population Health Team and The Opportunity Alliance's Young Parent Program will help the PSO determine which mothers will participate. The Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland will be documenting the project from start to finish.

Each lullaby will be professionally recorded at a studio and given to the mothers. The final songs will be performed at a free community concert on May 7, 2015, at Port City Music Hall, in advance of Mother's Day.

The Salt Institute will also host a private listening circle for the families and musicians in April. It will be the first time participants will hear each other's lullabies.

The budget for the Project includes payment for the musicians' workshops, rehearsals, recording sessions, 1,000 CD reprints of the recordings, the final concert, a promotional video and final documentary from the Salt Institute, and the Kickstarter fee. A licensed musical therapist will also be part of the budget.

The CD reprints will not be sold to the general public; they will only go to the mothers and anyone who donates on Kickstarter.

The project will also benefit from complimentary donations from Carnegie Hall, including expenses for a guest artist, program material, and promotional support.

Lullaby received $1,500 from the Coffee By Design Rebel Blend Arts Fund earlier this month, to ensure the community concert remains free and open to anyone who wants to attend.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.