Our Story

Founder Tom Clowes has been teaching cello and Western-style music in Haitian summer music camps since 2000. Over the years, he witnessed a country nothing like the Haiti he saw in the media – a country rich in art, language, culture, religion, history, storytelling, and, of course, music. When he learned of Haiti’s centuries-year-old classical music tradition, he was  captivated by its depth and breadth. So, he started putting on concert programs in the US so others could enjoy this virtually unknown side of Haitian culture and its touching music.

Crossing Borders Music’s founding board members incorporated the organization in 2011, when they produced its debut concert, “Beyond the Headlines: Haiti in Music.” The program was featured on ABC-7 Chicago News, WFMT’s Relevant Tones, WFMT’s Fiesta!, WBEZ’s WorldView, in the Chicago Tribune, on ChicagoMusic.com, and as a Critic’s Pick in TimeOut Chicago. Live recordings from this program became Crossing Borders Music’s debut CD. In the same season, Crossing Borders Music produced Celebrating Resilience: Music from the Unvanquished Bahá’í University of Iran, featuring composers and performers who risked their lives to study and teach music at the Bahá’í Institute for Higher Education, which was set up in response to the Iranian government’s ban on college admissions for members of the Bahá’í religion.

In each subsequent season, Crossing Borders Music has expanded the number of composers and cultural areas represented, and its reach. You can read more about our mission and impact, or about our more recent work.