Bach—and Social Justice—Make a Sweet Duet for One Charity Leader

Mixing Bach and Social Justice 1

Courtesy of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Sebastian Ruth’s Community MusicWorks brings classical-music education to Providence, R.I.’s inner city. “We are not missionaries or saviors,” says Mr. Ruth (above). “We are servants of a community.” Below, the group’s Fellows Quartet shows off its skills.

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Courtesy of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Sebastian Ruth’s Community MusicWorks brings classical-music education to Providence, R.I.’s inner city. “We are not missionaries or saviors,” says Mr. Ruth (above). “We are servants of a community.” Below, the group’s Fellows Quartet shows off its skills.

Sebastian Ruth loves the music of Brahms and Bach, and he has always wanted to help poor children rise above their circumstances. One day, gripped by a determination to combine these two passions, he walked into a community center in Providence, R.I., with a viola tucked under his arm. There, alongside the basketball court of a city-run recreation facility serving working-class and largely black and Latino residents of the city’s hardscrabble West End, he told the staff he was available