It was overwhelming to be back inside our home venue again for a live concert, after a summer of outdoor concerts – overwhelming in a wonderful way! All the key ingredients were there: superb artists; an exciting program; a great piano; the old country church’s charming atmosphere and fine acoustics; and a full house of keen enthusiasts. The “cherry on top” was the presence of Pulitzer Prize composer Lewis Spratlan, who gave a pre-concert talk about his two works being performed that afternoon, one of which was a premiere.
Dana Muller and Gary Steigerwalt had driven all the way from Tucson, Arizona to fulfill the engagement that had been cancelled twice since the start of the pandemic. During their week’s residency they not only holed up to rehearse for long stretches, but they reached out into the community to give a couple of mini-performances: Lake Forest Senior Living Community and a pop-up concert at the mall. Both were so warmly received.
Muller and Steigerwalt’s big program on Sunday afternoon was truly BIG, with five significant works: Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune; Mendelssohn’s Andante und Allegro assai vivace, Op. 92; Spratlan’s Dreamworlds and Fantasia; and Ravel’s La Valse. And their playing is BIG, considering their physiques appear rather small and delicate. But they made it look like a mere bagatelle and positively balletic. Their movements were so graceful and in sync, they were mesmerizing to watch and to hear. Fascinating and wonderful concert!
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Amazing concert by Cantrip on Labor Day at Weatherwatch Farm. Again rain played havoc and we gathered snug under the tent for an intimate sharing of some wonderful Celtic music. The guys first seduced us with tales told in their lilting brogue; and then the music poured out of them in song and on fiddle, flutes, guitar, and even bouzouki. Eventually the sun came out and folks were inspired to get up and dance; a Scottish conga line formed and weaved around the back. Great turnout with many newcomers. Slàinte Mhath! (pronounced slange var) in Scots Gaelic that’s “Cheers”!
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Rain began at showtime and soon became torrential and continued thus unabated for the duration of Sunday’s concert – gadzooks! We had a great crowd nevertheless, with few cancellations and only a few early departures at the half – 125 under the tent – very cozy and intimate. Ah, the vagaries and challenges of show biz during covid!
The Tim Collins Jazz Quintet, an ad hoc ensemble of A-list players (and good old friends from way back) assembled expressly for Hill and Hollow Music, gave two shows, both excellent. Although it was basically the same set-list twice, each performance was quite different and distinctive. Saturday’s drive-in show at Curbside in Plattsburgh featured the extraordinary John Ellis on tenor sax, while Sunday’s show at Weatherwatch Farm featured the superb Ingrid Jensen on trumpet. But of course, everyone got to shine with ample solos: Tim Collins on vibes, Marcos Varela on bass, and Jon Wikan on drums. They played mostly original compositions by Christine Jensen, (Blue Yonder, Swirlaround, Margareta) and Tim Collins (Down the Old Road, North Country, Crazy Cat, The Other Side, Valcour). Great stuff and first rate playing!
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David Krakauer assembled an international all-star cast of high-octane musicians for his newest band, Mazel Tov Cocktail Party. The project was conceived and developed with his principal collaborator – pianist-composer Kathleen Tagg – in multiple extended Hill and Hollow Music residencies during the pandemic. The ensemble features Krakauer on clarinet, Tagg on keys and cello, Sarah MK on vocals and rap, Yoshie Fruchter on guitar and oud, Jerome Harris on bass and vocals, and Martin Shamoonpour on daf (Middle Eastern hand-drum) and jaw harp. Additionally, layered beats produced by Jeremy Flower and Selwa Abd (aka Bergsonist) are integral to the sound of the band.
Mazel Tov Cocktail Party gave two sensational premiere performances July 17-18: at Plattsburgh’s City Stage, as part of the Curbside at Harborside drive-in concert series; and at Weatherwatch Farm in Saranac, as part of the Hill and Hollow Music summer lawn concert series. The program included contemporary world-music settings by Krakauer and Tagg of the traditional dance forms of polka, square dance, hornpipe, calypso, and hora – infused with klezmer, jazz, rock, and funk. Insane! There were some exquisite quiet moments, too, with transparent renditions of Poor Wayfaring Stranger and Street Singer (Gasn Nign). The band‘s next move is into the recording studio to lay this program down and produce a new CD, which will be released in October 2021. Mazel Tov!
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Kathryn Sloat’s harp concert was pure delight. Her program had the theme “Moon and Stars” and was performed outdoors on the lawn of Weatherwatch Farm on a lovely summer solstice evening. It was an adventurous program, challenging and bold, and Kate met its demands with exquisite playing, power, and panache. All the works she chose were composed during the 20th and 21st centuries – some within the most recent decades. Tournier’s “Clair de lune sur l’étang du parc,” Britten’s “Nocturne,” Salzedo’s “Chanson dans la nuit,” Debussy’s “Clair de lune,” Mancini’s “Moon River,” Ruby Aspinall’s Night Dances, Salazar’s “I See Stars in Your Eyes,” and Caroline Lizotte’s Suite Galactique were among the works we heard. The weather cooperated magnificently and we had a fine turnout just shy of 100 – an auspicious beginning for the new concert series!
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Thank you for checking in here! Some great live music is coming your way soon!! We have planned several outdoor concerts this summer, and hope to be back in our regular indoor venues by autumn. An exciting array of artists and ensembles will perform a wide variety of music genres: classical and contemporary classical; early music of the renaissance and baroque; Scottish and French-Canadian traditional roots music; and improvisatory jazz, klezmer, and world music.
For schedule, artist, and venue information, please visit the CALENDAR page (click above). Make sure you are on our e-mail list to receive up-to-the-minute concert announcements with more details, possible change of venue or cancellation, and occasional news featuring Hill and Hollow Music artists: To sign up, just scroll down to the bottom of the page OR drop an e-mail to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll gladly bring you on board. See you soon in Saranac!
We had three streams over Thanksgiving Weekend of a “virtual house concert” by our favorite Hall of Fame fiddler Gretchen Koehlerand her dynamic jazz piano partner Daniel Kellyto celebrate the release of their new CD “Live from Hill and Hollow.” The one-hour concert was filmed at Harvey House, while the CD was recorded in the beautiful acoustics of the historic Saranac Methodist Church, all when Gretchen and Daniel were with us for a whirlwind residency in early October. A brief “Meet the Artists” interview with Gretchen, Daniel, and Angela – plus extra footage and photos from earlier Hill and Hollow concerts – immediately follows the show! You can watch Koehler & Kelly’s concert any time, at your convenience: CLICK HERE!
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Israeli pianist Alon Goldstein gave solo recitals at Weatherwatch Farm on three consecutive days. Because of safety concerns during the pandemic, attendance was limited to only 12 masked guests at each performance. It was truly amazing to have an extremely intimate musical encounter with this powerful artist who has performed in major concert halls around the globe. The programs included J. S. Bach English Suite No. 2 in A minor; Beethoven Sonata in E flat major Op. 27, No. 1 and Sonata in C sharp minor Op.27, No. 2 (Moonlight); Debussy Estampes; Florence Price Sonata in E minor (2nd movement); Bernstein “Masque” from Symphony No. 2; Chopin Scherzo Nos. 1 and 2; Chopin Waltzes Op. 64. For encores Alon played some Scarlatti Keyboard Sonatas that are featured on his latest CD.
Alon was accompanied by his teenage son Matan, who was able to keep up with his online schoolwork during the 10-day residency. Alon spent his days practicing intensively and developing new repertoire. In the afternoons they explored the Adirondacks with scenic drives to Lake George and Lake Placid; hikes around Point au Roche, Silver Lake, and Weatherwatch Farm; and a paddle down the Saranac River. Alon Goldstein is scheduled to return next season to perform Mozart/Lachner Piano Concerti with string quartet and double bass. We hope that by then we will be able to gather again safely in our lovely, spacious venue, the historic Saranac Methodist Church on Route 3.
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The blended sonorities of Patti McCarty’s lush dark viola and Bill Zito’s crystalline ringing guitar are gorgeous! They have been playing together for a couple of years and have achieved an intense musical rapport. Perched together quite snug on an elevated platform under the tent, they were nicely visible to the crowd that spilled onto the lawn at Weatherwatch Farm. And the afternoon was glorious! Safe practices were followed, with all wearing masks and maintaining distance.
The duo’s program was a thoughtful and excellent selection of periods and moods, starting with Locatelli and Paganini sonatas. Of particular interest was a newly discovered work attributed to Beethoven and a premiere of a work composed for the duo by John Hawkins. And what’s not to love about the Spanish flavors of Ravel, Ibert, and Albeniz! Light refreshments were served under the big shade tree following the music. Folks explored the gardens and ultimately peeled off, having enjoyed a rare social gathering during the “Summer of Covid.”
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We were very happy to be invited to participate in “Curbside at Harborside,” the eclectic drive-in concert series curated by Benjamin Pomerance. An empty parking lot behind the train station becomes a happening place every Saturday night throughout the COVID-19 Summer of 2020. Our event featuring the superb champion fiddler Gretchen Koehler, paired with jazz pianist Daniel Kelley, was the perfect choice for a lively outdoor concert. The duo blends the raw energy of traditional fiddle and dance music with the nuanced lyricism and irresistible rhythms of jazz piano to create a unique soundscape.
Conceived to be a safe, socially distant way to enjoy live music, vehicles are parked in every other space. From inside their cars audience may tune in to 95.3 FM radio to hear the concert broadcast. Alternately, they may sit outside their cars to hear the music coming directly from loudspeakers onstage. About 35-40 cars turned up, most with two or more occupants; we figure around 100± attended the event. Audience showed their appreciation by honking their car horns liberally and loudly after each number. Gretchen and Daniel had never experienced anything quite like it, but said that they really felt the love! All in all, a different sort of experience, but wonderful!
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