Their missions aligned. They served kids who lived in the same city and surrounding suburbs. They had been talking about the idea for years.
In February, it became official: Trenton Music Makers and Trenton Children’s Chorus merged to become Capital Harmony Works.
“The kids are going to be served in much more fulfilling way,” said Kate Mulligan, who previously served as Executive Director of Trenton Children’s Chorus and is now serving as a merger coordinator for Capital Harmony Works. “Our dream is to be under one roof, with our kids getting the opportunity to play strings, drums and sing. It will be an amazing hub of music and creativity – kids from all over, coming together with like-minded people to achieve everything that is possible.”
The Princeton Area Community Foundation has been among the organizations’ most supportive neighbors and friends, so the staff there was among the first they told, said Carol Burden, who has led Trenton Music Makers since 2015, and is now the Capital Harmony Works’ President and CEO.
“We asked the Community Foundation staff for time to talk and to get their opinion,” she said. “Their grant support of Trenton Music Makers has been absolutely fundamental.”
Over the years, both Trenton Music Makers and Trenton Children’s Chorus have received support from the Community Foundation’s discretionary and donor advised fund grants, including The Bunbury Fund.
“I’m not sure the Trenton Children’s Chorus would be here, if not for the Community Foundation,” said Kate.
Even before the merger, the two organizations had been collaborating, with the chorus sharing its Learning Academy Program with Trenton Music Makers. That program helps promote academic achievement and helps create a path to college for the young musicians, said Kate.
Both the Trenton Children’s Chorus and Trenton Music Makers also share a co-founder: Marcia Wood, who is thrilled about the merger, which combines the two organizations and three programs: the chorus, the orchestra and Trenton Music Maker’s preschool program, Music for the Very Young.
“This was the right time to come together,” said Carol. “I think everyone knew this was the goal and the best outcome. It just makes sense for us to be under one roof.”
For many years, the chorus, housed at the Trenton Presbyterian Church, with a satellite program at the International Charter School, had a very strong presence in Trenton’s west ward, while the orchestra, based at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in the east ward, has been strong in the east and south wards. Both organizations also served young people from the surrounding communities. They chose the name Capital Harmony Works because they want to promote arts in the state capital.
“With the merger, we have the potential for all three programs to become so much more robust,” said Carol. “More of a donor’s gift will go to programs, because we had some administrative streamlining, but the needs are as great as ever before.”
Through philanthropy, the community can help the programs grow, which in turn, will open new opportunities for the young musicians.
“This is coming from a real place of strength, and we’ve spent many years thinking about it,” said Kate. “It was very strategic. It was not because of the pandemic. This outcome is the culmination of a dream, and people on both sides are incredibly excited, and really looking forward to seeing what the future is. I think the sky’s the limit.”
Capital Harmony Works will host its debut event on Thursday, May 19 at 6 p.m. at the Social Profit Center at Mill One, 1 North Johnston Ave, Hamilton. For more information or to reserve a ticket, visit https://musiceverywhere.givesmart.com.