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New VOICES executive director focuses on community through art

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There is no question that MinTze Wu is a mover and a shaker. In the 4.5 years she’s lived in Carbondale, Wu has become a familiar name on the Roaring Fork Valley arts scene. She has been a curator and performer in Carbondale Arts’ Garden Music Series, concertmaster of the Aspen Choral Society, collaborator with Dance Initiative and DanceAspen and participant in two VOICES projects — the Women’s VOICES Theater Project and The ARTery.

Last week, Carbondale-based arts nonprofit VOICES announced Wu will take the reins from current executive director Renee Prince on Nov. 1.

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Born in Taiwan, Wu moved to New York City at the age of 14 to study violin in the Juilliard Pre-college Program. She also spent five summers participating in the Aspen Music Festival and School (AMFS), a premiere school for young musicians. As Wu recalled, “I’m sure we came to play at the Carbondale library,” an AMFS concert stop in the Roaring Fork Valley, adding, “but never in my wildest dreams would I imagine back then that I would settle down here.”

She is the founder of the Sounds of Lyons Music Festival in Colorado and BenFeng Music Productions where she has served as producer and artistic director.

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In early 2018, Wu moved to Carbondale, with her husband, Jem Moore, a gifted musician himself, and their daughters, ages 10 and 12. She would travel back to Taiwan with her girls to work on summer and winter BenFeng Music Festival productions.

But when the pandemic happened, “it made me rethink things and gave me more time to really get in touch and grow roots here with my community.”

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She connected with VOICES in 2019, as an ensemble member with the Women’s VOICES Theater Project. Wu said during that production, “I could see what they were trying to pull out of me — as a mother, as a woman, as an artist — they were able to pull out something very new and very yummy through the process.”

Last summer, she and her daughters participated in another VOICES project, The ARTery. Wu explained, “They built this beautiful, tiny mobile theater stage so we could bring art to the community. And we got to do a couple of beautiful productions that were conceived, directed and performed by my girls.”

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When Wu heard about the executive director opening, she met with Prince “and she shared with me her story of why she wanted to go. Renee is not just about the numbers or workfiles but about the stories and connections,” said Wu.

After some deep soul-searching, asking herself what she really wanted to do, Wu found the answer: create community through art. She said, “I realized the things I created under the name of BenFeng are very similar to what has been created under the name of VOICES — that we are making art to create community.”

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An appreciative Wu said VOICES founders, Prince and Barbara Reese, “poured their heart and soul and resources into making sure that this organization is doing this kind of work in this community.”

VOICES Board President Iliana Rentería said they received applications from across the country and while “some were pretty great candidates, when MinTze came in, she spoke about our mission and her passion.”

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Rentería met Wu at English in Action’s annual “Immigrant Voices” fundraising event and recalled how Wu “told her story in such an authentic way and it was an inspiring story.

“I knew she was special, and since then, I have always been impressed by her great commitment to perfection in everything she does. She represents our values. I see her as an artist, but also as a leader and those are great qualities that are not easy to find — but we found them in her.”

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Wu concluded, “I came to see that VOICES is all about the process of relationship building — of you and yourself, of you and your tribe, and of you and your community,” a focus that she ensures will continue under her leadership.

To learn more about VOICES, visit www.voicesrfv.org

Tags: #Art #community #MinTze Wu #music #VOICES
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