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Chamber Music Festival Cultivates Deeper Community Connections

July 23, 2018

The Cedar Valley Chamber Music Festival started when Hunter Capoccioni asked himself what he could do for his community. At age 25, he had traveled the country and world playing double bass and wanted to fill a gap he saw in artistic offerings in the Cedar Valley, so he invited his friends to help him bring a chamber music series to his hometown. It was so successful, Hunter was encouraged to create a nonprofit to keep the festival going, and in 2008, Cedar Valley Chamber Music was established. Thirteen seasons later, the music continues and the mission grows.

Held every July, the Cedar Valley Chamber Music Festival brings artists living, raised, or trained in Iowa, who are making their living as professional musicians, to the Cedar Valley. Chamber music is an intimate art form, bringing small groups of orchestral musicians together. The festival performances make music accessible, bridging the space between the audience and the stage to allow attendees to interact with the musicians and music.

The Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa has been a major funder of the Cedar Valley Chamber Music Festival, granting over $50,000 since 2008, which, according to Hunter, helps make the organization's inclusive vision a reality.

"The grant from the Community Foundation in our first year was pivotal. The grants fund the artistic branch of our mission, allowing us to bring people in from all over the country and world, but they also allow us to add the outreach arm of what we do," said Hunter. "I've always felt the Community Foundation really understands what being an arts organization is, that it's about the quality of the interaction as well as the quantity of interactions and that means a lot to me."

It is the festival's community outreach efforts that bring true meaning to quality interactions. Every season musicians take time to not just perform but teach and interact with various youth groups and residents of retirement communities.

"It really only takes a moment to change someone's life. I strongly believe some of our societal issues stem from not giving people enough creative outlets. If any of the interaction we have doing our outreach spurs that creativity, it's important to me," said Hunter.

No matter the audience, the performing artists of the Cedar Valley Chamber Music Festival are helping create deeper community connections. And for Hunter, giving people in the Cedar Valley, the community he calls home, access is part of making it stronger.

"The arts are particularly important right now because we have a deep interest as a society in connection with each other, and I think the arts are a way for us to have a shared experience," said Hunter. "That shared experience builds the idea of community. A community isn't just people living in the same geographic area, it's about profound shared experiences that leave an emotional impact."