Heart- and Mind-Opening Music & Stories with Journey West

It was an incredibly moving weekend with the superb world music ensemble Journey West. Spending time together, learning about personal histories of band members from the Middle East, and experiencing their wonderful music was shocking, touching, and ultimately uplifting. Seven guys on violins, saxophone, clarinet, flute, penny whistle, mandolin, guitar, oud, bass, accordion, and all manner of percussion took the audience on an exotic voyage, performing music from the Middle East, Balkans, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, and ultimately arriving in North America.  It was particularly meaningful, in that these concerts were for the benefit of Plattsburgh Cares, a nonprofit organization providing humanitarian aid for asylum seekers and refugees traveling through our community on their way to Canada, and UNHCN, the United Nations Refugee Fund. Two excellent concerts were well attended and $3000± was made for the good cause.

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Catharsis: Soovin Kim & Gloria Chien Violin-Piano Concert

Violinist Soovin Kim and pianist Gloria Chien gave an extraordinary duo recital on October 8.  Of course we knew this was going to be a wonderful concert, but it surpassed all expectations.  Those lucky enough to be present were witness to a perfect musical union of prodigious technique, profound intellect, deep wells of emotion, and the power to communicate.  Transcendent perfection.  It is mind-blowing to consider that mere humans, through art, can create and share such a euphoric experience.  Add to this the personal relationship, the long history of friendship in our community.  We feel an overwhelming deep happiness for Soovin that he has found an ideal partner in Gloria.  She is truly his musical and artistic match, and their deep love for the music and one another radiates from them.  The duo played Robert Schumann Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano in A minor, Op. 105; Charles Ives Sonata for Violin and Piano, No. 2; Richard Strauss Sonata for Violin and Piano in E-flat Major, Op. 18; and four short charming works by Fritz Kreisler.  The church was full – and the music and love soared to the heavens.

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Lofty Program Divinely Performed by the Olympus Trio

Regi Papa, Ben Capps, Konstantine Valianatos

Olympus Piano Trio – Friday, September 15, 2017 –  Three young men with Greek heritage, exceptional talent, and an extraordinary rapport in bringing music to life, the Olympus Piano Trio are violinist Regi Papa, cellist Ben Capps, and pianist Konstantine Valianatos.  The dynamic ensemble formed at Juilliard in 2010 to celebrate and explore their shared passion for chamber music; they perform a repertory of classical masterpieces as well as the music of native Greek and diaspora composers.  The trio had a retreat to prepare a new program for upcoming  concerts and competitions: Brahms Piano Trio No. 1 in  B Major, op. 8); Ravel Piano Trio in A Minor; and Greek-Canadian contemporary composer Christos Hatzis Odd World – which they tried out in the living room at Weatherwatch Farm.  We had a great turnout because folks remembered this trio’s superb concert last summer.  Here again several audience members pronounced it the best concert they have ever heard!  We feel that way about all of our concerts, but truly, there is indeed something extra-special about experiencing live music in such close proximity to the artists as a house concert offers.

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In the Wake of Passion (for Percussion) – Passepartout Duo

Nicoletta Favari, piano, and Christopher Salvito, percussion, of the PASSEPARTOUT DUO

Passepartout Duo performances demand a different kind of listening, of active concentration and imagination.  Yes, you can let waves of sound wash over you, but it’s more like a tsunami – you’re gonna get clobbered!  If you are looking to grab hold of a beautiful melody, fuhgeddaboudit.  Better get used to slamming layered tone clusters, piercing rhythm patterns and ostinato chords, polyrhythm pile-ups. In extended periods of sound decay you can hear overtones ad infinitum swirling overhead.  Moments of silence become colorfully alive and as important as the sounds themselves.  Frighteningly fascinating.  About 90 people turned out for our annual free concert by the Passepartout Duo on Sunday July 9 and only a few left at intermission, ha-ha!  I say “hats off” to our devoted audience for being curious and opening themselves to a totally different sonic experience outside of their comfort zone.   After all, this type of contemporary music is definitely out there on the scene – these 25 year-old adventurers are causing ripples in far corners of the globe.  In the next six months they are touring and participating in contemporary music and film festivals in Cuba, UK, Germany, Denmark, and Iceland.

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Meaty and Moving Performance by the Davydov-Fanning Duo

Cellist Dieuwke Davydov and pianist Diana Fanning, both longtime Affiliate Artists at Middlebury College, performed their celebratory 40th Anniversary Concert program on Sunday, April 9, 2017 at the Saranac Methodist Church.  The performance was one of several stops in the Northeast before taking it on tour in Europe.  Forty years’ playing together!  The inexpressible luminous rapport between two old friends married with a profound depth of musical comprehension, intense emotional expression, and pure technical skill all comes together in a suspended moment in time, a glimpse of eternity. The substantial program featured Beethoven Cello Sonata No.2 in G Minor, op.5, Hindemith Fantasiestück, Brahms Cello Sonata No.1 in E Minor, op.38, and Camille Saint-Saëns Allegro Appassionato, op.43; plus Chopin “Berceuse” and two Debussy Études for solo piano.

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Beyond Heavenly! Contemporary Harp Duo, Lilac 94

The retreat of the contemporary harp duo Lilac 94 was a satisfying and productive success from all angles.  Their over-arching need was to rehearse in-depth the intensely challenging work Pentacle of Carlos Salzedo and to prepare a “conversation piece” around it to demonstrate the various extended techniques Salzedo employed in its composition.  After first giving their spiel, which involved the audience (of about 95) in a thoroughly enthusiastic Q & A, Christina Brier and Kathryn Sloat delivered their first complete performance of the work in its entirety on Sunday, January 22.  It was revelation!  After the concert there was a veritable “petting zoo” with dozens crowding in to learn more about the pedal harp and its sonic capabilities.

Lilac 94, contemporary harp duo

No time to rest on their laurels, however!  The following day Mountain Lake PBS sent a team out to Saranac to film the duo at work in the music room of the guest house.  Ultimately a full day’s footage will be edited into a brief  ten-minute segment to be aired on Spotlight, an award-winning show that highlights arts and culture in our region.  We’ll get the word out to you regarding the schedule of Lilac 94 featured on Spotlight – stay tuned!

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Delmoni-McCarty-Thomas Trio Triumphs

Ronald Thomas, cello; Patricia McCarty, viola; Arturo Delmoni, violin

Ronald Thomas, cello; Patricia McCarty, viola; Arturo Delmoni, violin

An early-season blizzard cruelly interfered with the Delmoni-McCarty-Thomas String Trio’s concert Sunday, November 20.  However, the 75 stalwart Adirondackers who braved the weather were richly rewarded by an exquisite program of mature Mozart (Divertimento in E-flat Major, K563), early Beethoven (Trio in C minor, Op. 9, No. 3), and youthful Dohnanyi (Serenade in C Major, Op. 10).

Arturo Delmoni on violin, Patricia McCarty on viola, and Ronald Thomas on cello played with deep camaraderie – theirs is a longstanding friendship – as well as deep comprehension of and affection for the music.  What an outpouring, what a love-feast, what sublime beauty!  This is a trio that should be touring everywhere and heard by everyone, but alas!  Individually they’ve been there, done that – making the rare occasions when they play together all the more to be cherished.

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Gloria Chien Plays Favorites from the Glory Age of the Piano

Gloria Chien, piano

Gloria Chien, piano

Pianist Gloria Chien shared some of her personal favorites in her solo recital at the Saranac Methodist Church on Sunday afternoon October 16.  This was a most fitting introduction to the Hill and Hollow Music family, not only in purely musical terms, but as the wife of our own beloved Soovin Kim.  Gloria chose beautiful and familiar works of Mendelssohn (Songs Without Words), Chopin (Nocturne, Barcarolle), Liszt (Venezia e Napoli), and Debussy (Suite Bergamasque) that exemplify and epitomize the great age of pianism and piano composition.  In her pacing of the demanding program Gloria showed herself to be a seasoned mature artist.  She met all challenges with sensitivity and strength, passion and precision, delicacy and grandeur. The audience of 125 welcomed Gloria warmly and responded effusively to each work. For an encore she offered Scriabin Nocturne in D-Flat Major for Left Hand, she said, “to give her right hand a rest”!

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Diderot String Quartet Charms and Astonishes

Adriane Post, Paul Dwyer, Kyle Miller, Johanna Novom

Adriane Post, violin; Paul Dwyer, cello; Kyle Miller, viola; Johanna Novom, violin

The Diderot Quartet is one of the most imaginative young string quartets out there. Straddling two worlds, their collective feet are planted firmly in both the early music movement and the classical period.  Johanna Novom and Adriane Post, violins; Kyle Miller, viola; and Paul Dwyer, cello bring an exciting fresh approach to familiar works as well as those less-known. They delve into the abundant string quartet literature of the 18th and early 19th centuries filtered through the lens of early music sensibility and perform in historically informed style on historical instruments.  The DSQ spent a week with us on retreat expressly to explore and rehearse new repertory. On September 11 they offered us the fruits of their labor: Mozart’s String Quartet in G Major, K387, “Spring” and Burgmüller’s String Quartet No. 1 in D minor, op. 4.  Their performance was remarkable – elegance, passion, sensitivity, exuberance, daring, and precision all coming together in a perfect synthesis.  The rapt audience recognized that they were participating in an extraordinary music experience. Over 100 attended our annual free concert, a memorable occasion in Saranac!

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Music of the Gods by the Olympus Piano Trio

OLYMPUS PIANO TRIO: Regi Papa, Ben Capps, Konstantine Valianatos

Regi Papa, Ben Capps, Konstantine Valianatos

And they played like gods, too!  During their week-long retreat at Weatherwatch Farm, the trio prepared the huge new program for the upcoming concert season:  Rachmaninoff Trio No. 1 in G Minor, Élégiaque; Brahms Piano Trio No. 2 in C major, op. 87;  and Tchaikovsky’s monumental Piano Trio in A Minor, op. 50We were privileged to hear their first public performance of the new program on Sunday, August 21st at the Saranac Methodist Church, with its splendid acoustics and fine piano. The ensemble had obviously delved deeply into these rich and complex works. They were keenly and passionately committed to each other and to the music, which was note- and phrase-perfect, in full comprehension and context of the overall arc.  Each musician a stunning virtuoso in his own right, the whole was far “greater than the sum of its parts.” The audience sensed that they were witnessing something rare and exciting – the energy was palpable, exhilarating. After a moment of stunned silence at the conclusion of the Tchaikovsky, they jumped to their feet in a thunderous eruption of applause, an acknowledgment of their appreciation and affirmation of the power of live performance.

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