Apple Hill

This summer, I had the opportunity to teach and coach chamber music at the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music in the town of Sullivan, New Hampshire. Just two hours from Rhode Island, Sullivan lies amongst the trees, hills and wildlife approximately ten miles northwest of Keene, NH, the closest town. The festival takes place every summer on a dramatically beautiful campus—the converted farmland boasts colorful flower gardens, an old-world gazebo nestling in the trees, a 1780 farmhouse which hosts the administrative offices and a red-roofed barn used as the concert hall. The festival, for chamber music enthusiasts of all ages, abilities and backgrounds, runs from mid June to mid August, in five ten-day blocks. 

Apple Hill is, in many ways, an experiment in social and musical communication. What happens when this astonishingly diverse group of people are brought together to live, eat and play together? Here it is common to see two hotshot 13-year-old violinists and two 65-year-old adult amateurs learning a Beethoven string quartet, or two participants from conflicting countries and cultures working on a Schubert four-hands piano piece. The results continue to come in beautifully year after year. Lines that are sometimes sharply drawn in our world blur and eventually dissolve over each session. Lifelong friends are made across these lines in the most organic way. 
Playing chamber music is the perfect vehicle for learning to listen to others, knowing when to step up and be a leader, when to follow without compromising oneself. Sports teams can still occasionally excel and win championships with selfish egomaniacs onboard (the L.A. Lakers and Kobe Bryant?)—but the chamber music process simply cannot work unless the musical work is placed above the individuals playing it. Composers often invest their most personal thoughts and ideas in their chamber works. Thus, while Apple Hillers are putting together transcendent works of Mozart, Messiaen and Mendelssohn, they are experiencing deep artistic, emotional and social growth. 

Coupled with this is an entirely supportive atmosphere. Artistic and technical excellence is encouraged in the coachings, which happen four times daily in one and a half hour blocks. In the weekend performances, communication, creativity and joy are the performance goals. If a group happens to hit all the notes, that is gravy! No matter what happens, each group and each participant are cheered as boisterously as if they just aced a performance at Carnegie Hall.

Since I did not have to practice this summer at Apple Hill due to an injured shoulder, I had a lot more time to simply observe and contemplate this wonderful kibbutz of a festival. I think it is extraordinary and one of the most powerful venues for artistic and human growth that I have had the privilege to be a part of.  If you play an instrument professionally, are a devoted amateur or have only been playing for a couple of years and are just starting your musical journey, there is a place for you up here. Even if you don’t play an instrument, you will be cherished as a valued member of one of the most attentive audiences around! Don’t miss out on a visit to Apple Hill some summer—undertaking the scenic two hour road trip from Rhode Island will yield rich rewards…

-Jesse Holstein, PSQ

A series on El Sistema USA

Jeremy Eichler, writing for The Boston Globe, has produced a wonderful three-part look at El Sistema USA, its roots in Venezuela, and its potential for changing the future of classical music and music education in America.

Ultimately, it is not only those
passionate about musical access and the plight of underserved youth who
will be invested in the success of El Sistema-inspired programs — and
their preexisting sibling efforts — in this country. It is also the
embattled classical music establishment itself. Whatever the market
research might be telling orchestra administrators, long-term solutions
to the problem of dwindling audiences will not come from singles nights,
video game takeoffs, or pop stars fronting orchestras. Gimmicks or
pandering will not work. Savvy would-be listeners can sniff the

These problems
will require fixes from many angles, but in the end, solutions cannot
come without a radical redrawing of the map of who has a stake in
classical music as an art form. El Sistema posed this challenge for
itself in its first 35 years, and it has produced some impressive
results, so much so that it set off a surge of international interest
that has officially arrived in this country. Now the challenge for this
incipient US-based movement is to harness the energy and excitement in
the air, but also to build wisely and organically. There is too much of
genuine value here to risk this work being mistaken for a passing fad.

Part I: There is Magic in the Music
Part II: "You're Part of Something Bigger"
Part III: Catching the Upbeat to a New Movement

CMW mission in visual form

I would like to share some good news with the CMW community. The series of 09-10 season postcards that many of you received by mail will be
published in an identity design book in Seoul, Korea. This is one of many
times that the work I have done for CMW has been published. But it is
the first time the work will be showcased in international catalog
dedicated to unique branding and identity design. This is the result of
countless hours of hard work collaborating with Heath to
translate the CMW mission into a visual form and the excellent photography of Jori Ketten.




I'm looking forward to
the next season and another great year of design. It is a pleasure to
be a part of your wonderful efforts.

Don Tarallo, graphic design consultant

Summer postcards

Several CMW staffers report on their summer adventures…

Carole is embarking on many adventures all over Canada this
summer. She'll be teaching fiddle classes in Brandon, performing in a
chamber festival in Victoria, BC, and touring with her folk trio, Ex
Pirata International Company
, all over Canada's beautiful West Coast.

Jesse: "I am getting my right wing fixed with some minor surgery so I have set the violin aside for a few weeks.
It is a very strange feeling not to be playing the violin, I feel like I have tremendous amounts of time now. In July, I will be coaching up at Apple Hill, and they gave me a narration part for the faculty concert. I think I am going to be a viking
or something that pillages and kills. Other than that, I will be
reading a lot. A summer project is to read the entire Richard Taruskin 6-volume set of the history of music from 9th century Rome to the present day. Have a great summer everybody!"

Jason is excited about "a great mix of teaching, traveling, and starting my new role as the violist in the Boston Public Quartet."

Aaron will be playing as part of the Red River String Quartet, the string quartet-in-residence for the Grand Teton National Park during July. "Each week we'll give roughly 15-20 free 30-minute outreach shows at visitor centers and lodges in the park. These performances will culminate in a main-stage performance as part of the Grand Teton Music Festival's chamber music series." As part of the residency, Aaron will be an honorary ranger for the summer. This position, alas, does not include the hat.

Heath is spending one July week totally "unplugged" on an island in Maine, and making shorter trips to upstate New York and Washington DC.

Sara is "driving across the country with baby, learning the Chacconne, spending time at the Oregon beach and Montana cabin,and slowing down!"

Rachel, along with Jason and Laura, will lead a week-long summer camp for 35 CMW students in pastoral Wickford. Many thanks to Mary Ann O'Halloran for making this beautiful location possible!