It’s been a crazy, yet fun-filled summer at Monadnock Music!
I came back with a new position: a Public Relations Coordinator and a Box Office Manager. After being accepted to Southern New Hampshire University, I was very excited to start off in the Public Relations field.
Monadnock Music was established in 1965 by a composer, James Bolle and co-founded by his wife, Jocelyn Bolle. James needed space to record his new compositions in Nelson, NH’s meeting house. People who have heard these live recordings started to bring their friends and relatives to make these recording sessions into concerts. After this initiation, it was decided that these shows would create a music festival: Monadnock Music. The festival hosts classical music concerts in old meeting houses and churches across the Monadnock Region of New Hampshire. Monadnock Music continues to strive in their home location, Peterborough, New Hampshire. The festival has hosted over 100 musicians in the past 50 years. Locations include Keene, Wilton, Sullivan, Temple, Milford, Greenfield, Francestown, Washington, and more!
As you can imagine, the festival has been going out big to celebrate its birthday this year. Not only have we hosted many concerts, but there were also special guests and special events planned.
In June, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, Jane Chu, visited the Monadnock Music office with Ginnie Lupi, the director for the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. She was greeted by members of the Board of Directors, Artistic Director, Gil Rose; Managing Director, Chris Sink; and press from the Monadnock Region. The meeting discussed MM’s history and mission. After the meeting, Cellist, Rafael Popper-Keizer performed two pieces by composers who were affiliated with MM. Jane says “Arts bring vitality to a community; it embodies that,” she said about Peterborough. The visit was very well planned and couldn’t have been better. With a musical background, Jane understands how small music festivals can bring the local community together with tourism and locals.
Weeks went by, and by then, we were ready to start off our 50th season! I will be reviewing each concert below in this post.
Concert 1 – Complete Beethoven Symphonies No. 1 and No. 3.
This concert was hands down, my favorite of the season! The Orchestra filled up the Peterborough Town House will warm-filled sounds and incredible energy. Although, I did not catch No. 1 since I had to run the Box Office down stairs, but from what I heard it was a knock out performance. Symphony No. 3 was the cherry on top to end this night. The first movement had strength and energy like electricity running through your body. The second movement represents the “Hero” falling to his death. Jennifer Slowick (Oboe), gave a haunting impression of a funeral march. The third movement was bright and fun followed by the epic win of the fourth movement. I’d say, this was my favorite performance of the festival.
The Monadnock Music Piano trio performed in Keene and in Milford. Keene’s performance had a great turnout with audience members, but Milford, was disappointing in numbers; less from last year. Members of the trio included Grace Park on Violin, Rafael Popper-Keizer on Cello, and Elizabeth Schumann on Piano.
Keene’s program included Rachmaninoff’s Trio Elegiaque no. 1 g minor, Tower’s For Daniel, and Schubert’s Piano Trio in B-flat major. I wasn’t a huge fan of Tower, but in all, the group performed in unison and stellar expression.
Milford’s Concert included pieces by Haydn, Zallman, Honegger, and Foote. The Haydn was really sweet and calming. The other three pieces were very interesting to hear. A-tonal music can be harsh to hear for 30 mins, nevertheless, it was a great concert.
Concert 4 – Boston Modern Orchestra Project featuring Donald Berman (Piano)
Monadnock Music is made up of mostly BMOP musicians. Artistic Director, Gil Rose, believes to challenge the audience by not only listening to the classics such a baroque, classical, romantic, or early 20th century pieces, but to expose new modern music to the Monadnock region. The concert included pieces by W. Shuman, G. Perle, C. Fussel, and Samuel Barber.
Donald Berman stole the spotlight that evening in Peterborough. His technique in Perle’s Serenade no. 3 was impeccable and was very communicative in an abstract way with Gil Rose. Oh, and we found a bat on the stage floor. I saved it by wrapping a towel around it and putting him on a tree. Phew!
Barber’s Medea was very interesting to hear. Barber gives new colors I have never heard of in sound production and writes in a mysterious way. The concert was not well with a full audience, but attendees who were there loved it.
Concert 5 – Zaira Meneses, Guitar
If you know how it feels when a person is late for a rehearsal, well thats what happened in Deering’s Community Church. It was a struggle to communicate with Zaira with her busy schedule. Luckily, she arrived and was ready to give Deering a concert that would be well talked about.
Zaira performed pieces with a variety of western culture and south american music, such as Bach, Piccini, Tarrega, and a traditional piece – Malaguena. It was a surprise that she sang some of her music. Some audience members were disappointed that they did not have a translation sheet for some of her songs since she was singing in Spanish. But overall, the audience and myself were impressed with Zaira’s performance and art.
Concert 6 – NPR’s Christopher O’Riley
If I could pick the top 3 performance of the season, this concert was one of them. I usually don’t see that many audience members for a piano recital that is charged by the festival, but, this night was very special for a reason. Christopher O’Riley is the host of NPR’s From the Top. Not only is he a radio host, he is also an accomplished pianist. He has performed with MM’s in the past 50 years. I don’t remember which year he came to MM. Anyways, O’Riley gave a performance by Bach, Schubert, Scriabin, and Rachmaninoff. Bach’s Partita No. 6 in e minor was very well executed and well with Schubert’s Sonata in D major. After the break, O’Riley returned to perform Scriabin’s Black Mass Sonata No. 9. The piece was haunting, yet mysterious. The piece then was juxtaposed to Rachmaninoff’s Sonata No. 2. After that, people believed that the Scriabin was the same as the Rachmaninoff’s sonata, making a lot of people and myself confused. O’Riley might had to re-arrange the program order after he came back announcing that the last “piece” was Rachmaninoff. Whoops. But in the end, it was a great performance!
Nelson NH is where it started. This was going to be “the” concert this season. But, preparing for this special event was a nightmare, and the result of the concert was atrocious. The event started with a nice lunch with special guests who have been affiliated with MM for years, even decades. It was great to talk to people who have been with MM from the very beginning, even before I was born. After the Lunch, musicians from the past 50 years of MM came to rehearse, and boy let me tell you, it was a train wreck. Musicians were frustrated with how the rehearsal schedule was. However, some musicians cancelled or did not show up to their appointed time of rehearsing. I could tell that the production team shared their frustration with these musicians. We had about over 150 people in Nelsons Congregational Church, more than expected. Before the concert, James Bolle gave a remarkable speech on how MM changed his life and career with music. The concert began with chamber music, duets, quartets, and solos. Although this was a concert for past musicians to perform and celebrate, the concert became a disappointment to me. A cellist was out of tune most of the time, there were too many oboe pieces, and most of the music selection was not my cup of tea. The only piece I loved was a bassist who performed a piece by Elliot Carter. It was very whimsical and animated with narrations and singing.
Concert 8 – New Zealand Quartet featuring members of the MM string quintet.
As if this weekend couldn’t change the programming. It was announced in the season that the New Zealand String Quartet would perform at Harrisville’s Community Church. Well, that didn’t go as planned during the season. Two members of the quartet were denied work visa’s here in the United States for some odd reason. A lot of people called about what was going on, to see if the concert was cancelled or a complete change in the program. Luckily, Gil Rose did not panic and was very smart into how we could incorporate the other two members of the quartet into MM. The two violinists performed with three other members of the MM string quintet. The program dramatically changed to Mozart’s string quintet in D and Brahms String quintet in G, and let me tell you, it was a treat! Helene Pohl and Douglas Beilman expressed themselves lyrically with a warmth in sound. The crowd exceeded to over 200 people in a small church. Overall, the concert was a success and hopefully next time the quartet will perform all together.
Concert 9 – New Thread Saxophone Quartet
The New Thread Saxophone Quartet came to Jaffrey’s Center Meeting House for an evening of complex pieces. The quartet is the first saxophone quartet to perform at MM. The quartet demonstrated not only lyrical expression, but new modern techniques.
Concert 10 – F.A.E. Duo
The next week involved a fortepiano built in the 1800’s and a violinist. If you have tried to lift the heaviest fortepiano into a tiny church, its difficult! Thank goodness I go to a gym. The All Saints Church in Peterborough was beautiful and stunning with its architecture and acoustics. I was able to walk down to a tomb, which was cool, but yet creepy. The concert began with pieces by Beethoven, Joachim, Brahms, and Schumann. The pair did a great job with communication and inspiring the audience with awe.
Concert 11 – String Trio of MM
This concert was all about today’s modern composers and old ones too. Charles Dimmick (Violin), Shira Majoni (Viloa) and Rafael Popper-Kezier (Cello) performed at Wilton’s Center Unitarian Church. The pieces by Kodaly, Martino, Francaix, Zwilich, and Dohnanyi. I felt that these pieces were too modern for my taste. The Martino was a world premier after it was written in the 1930’s. An audience member came up to me and said “no wonder the Martino piece was premiered then.” The trio did perform the music well, but it might have been too modern for the audience’s taste.
Concert 12 – String Quartet of MM
The quartet performed in Greenfield’s Meeting house, with compositions by Mendelssohn, Shostakovich, Lerdahl, and Sibelius. This was a great venue to host our event, although the chair lift to the second level was down, so people who could not get up the stairs were listening down stairs. Mendelssohn’s piece was sweet, and Shostakovich was haunting, like all of his music. Lerdahl was interesting to hear, and Sibelius’ piece was a grand slam to end the night.
This concert was the season finale of the festival. Before the concert took place, people were invited to a reception with yummy treats from local bakeries and restaurants! The concert started with Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Bluewith guest Alan Feinberg. I thought the piece was great and Alan nailed it. Alan then performed Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F, which was okay, but awkward. During the piece, Alan stopped playing and lost his place, looking to Gil Rose for help. Gil stopped the ensemble and directed them back to a couple of sections. Alan picked himself up and ended the piece. It’s hard to memorize complex pieces, but Alan did the same thing in rehearsal. It is still a question if he prepared for this concert. After his solos, members of the audience were invited to dance with selections by Paul Whiteman orchestrations.
Overall, it was a successful season and it was great to reminisce with old staff and audience members and meeting new faces to the organization. I’ve learned a lot of how to be in the public relations part of a music festival and how to maintain relationships with press and news outlets. It was disappointing that there were not many receptions after each concert. But in all, it was a memorable season and MM will continue to share great music with the Monadnock Community.
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