The Rocky Hill Ramblers gave a pair of really fun shows July 11 and 13 at the Saranac Fire Hall. Folks do seem to enjoy the laid-back, sorta-scruffy atmosphere of this man-cave. The three-piece band was oh-so-much more than the sum of its parts, with Andrew O’Connor on guitar and vocals, Jennifer Hayden (Kellum’s daughter!) on fiddle and vocals (some delicious vocal harmonies going on there), and Steve Hayden (Kellum’s son-in-law!) on bass and guitars. Steve is a tremendous player, whose modest and nonchalant style subtly energize the Ramblers’ style. Their program was a sweet little stroll down Memory Lane with 60s and 70s folk and rock, country and blues, plus some ancient traditional English and Irish songs. A couple of Andrew’s originals were warmly received as well. Many friends commented on Jennifer’s banter in between songs – her informative and witty (frequently irreverent) remarks are definitely part of the act!
After two recent high-profile triumphs in New York City, the Lavrova-Primakov Piano Duo conquered Saranac! They came on a retreat with South African composer Braam van Eden to prepare several of his new works for performance and later recording. Being a trained classical pianist himself, van Eeden’s writing is idiomatic, fully exploiting the instrument’s sound palette and power. His compositions are grand, colorful, and expansive in a manner reminiscent of Franz Liszt. One of the works, Allegory, was dedicated to Hill and Hollow Music and received its world premiere – terribly exciting for us! A theme and variations, it was based on a melody by Tchaikovsky. The program followed a Russian theme mainly, the Duo also performing Arensky and Rachmaninoff.
Making the event even more special, the artists wore the most elaborate and glamorous costumes that have ever been seen north of Albany – the creations of NYC designer Madeline Gruen, a recent graduate of Pratt Institute, whose senior collection received the Liz Claiborne Award – and they changed costumes after intermission! A couple days before the concert, the Duo and Braam had given a live hour-long performance and interview on Walter Parker’s show on Vermont Public Radio, which surely helped bring in a full house. The enthusiastic audience generously rewarded the musicians with several standing ovations.
Bonfiglio Trio performance at the Saranac Fire Hall; photo by Gabe Dickens, courtesy Press-Republican
Harmonica virtuoso extraordinaire Robert Bonfiglio is a TOWERING artist and a grand showman in the classic tradition. Supported by Steve Benson on guitar and Joe Deninzon on violin, mandolin, and vocals, The Bonfiglio Trio gave two memorable performances May 24-25, each tailored to the particular venue and audience: Saturday night at the Saranac Fire Hall, packed to capacity with an animated hip crowd, rocked the rafters; Sunday afternoon at the Methodist Church, while not exactly worshipful, was just a wee trifle more tame. But there were some poignant, reflective interludes in both well-paced shows. A rollicking good time was had by all, not soon to be forgotten.
- George and Elizabeth Cordes
We were delighted to present George and Elizabeth Cordes on Sunday April 13 at the Saranac “Church in the Hollow” in a collaborative concert with High-Peaks Opera, their organization in the Tri-Lakes region. They were joined on-stage by cellist Jonathan Tortolano and pianist William Tortolano in a fascinating program, in which even the instrumental numbers were derived from opera or literary sources.
Highlights were the rarely heard baritone arias “True is All Iagoo Tells Us” from Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s cantata-trilogy The Song of Hiawatha, based on Longfellow’s epic poem, and the “Stranger’s Song” from Lukas Foss’s one-act opera The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, after the short story by Mark Twain. Another standout was Beethoven’s Seven Variations in E-Flat, for cello and piano, on a theme from Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Other high points included “Tristesse de Dulcinée” for cello and piano from Massenet’s Don Quichotte, King Philip’s aria “Ella giammai m’am” from Verdi’s Don Carlo, and Billy’s “Soliloquy” from Richard Rodgers’ Carousel.
Spring cannot be far off. We just brought home a dozen baby chicks from our general store and set them up in the garage in a cozy cardboard box fitted out with layers of newspaper, a mini-feeding trough and water fountain. They scurry about, peeping loudly and pecking the walls of the box. Then suddenly exhausted, they fall asleep in a huddle under the warm-spot of a light bulb. We will graduate them to larger boxes as they grow, placing a few dowels to satisfy their instinct to roost. As soon as it warms up enough, we will transfer them to a large indoor/outdoor pen at the barn. By August these cute Rhode Island Red pullets will begin to lay their lovely brown eggs. When we are convinced that they have learned to use the laying boxes, we will to reward them with true “free-range” privileges!
We are reminded of one of Soovin Kim’s residencies. The timing worked out so that he and his ensemble-mates were able to witness the hatching of a clutch of eggs we had incubated in our kitchen pantry. It was a revelation for those urban musicians: first to hear the chicks peeping while still encased within the eggshell; then to watch them peck themselves out to freedom – sometimes falling asleep in exhaustion before the job was done. To behold such a miracle is a perk of a rural retreat with Hill and Hollow Music!
We are launched into a new cycle of artist residencies and concerts, thanks to a generous response to our recent appeal. Now with a positive cash-flow again, exciting plans are in the works! But also with an eye toward long-term financial stability, we committed an amount equal to half of those contributions to the “Hill and Hollow Music Fund,”our endowment at the Adirondack Foundation. We established our fund in 2006 and add to it whenever possible. It is quietly growing and we are able to draw grants from the interest, if needed.
You are invited to browse the Adirondack Foundation’s interesting website, where we have our own page with a description and history of our activities. It a great opportunity for us to become more widely known in the region. Click on the following link and learn more: https://www.generousact.org/funds/hill-and-hollow-music-fund
On a recent Saturday evening in late November, snow swirling wildy outdoors, Russian Duo lived up to their reputation as an ensemble of “explosive talent (Hartford Advocate). Oleg Kruglyakov, a balalaika virtuoso from Siberia, and Terry Boyarsky, an American concert pianist of Russian-Jewish heritage, performed to a rapt audience at the Saranac Methodist Church. Their artistic collaboration, born from a shared love of traditional folk culture and classical elegance, has led them to create captivating programs that feature Russian folk music, lyrical romances, rhythmic dances, classical music favorites, gypsy melodies, and Russian popular songs. The sheer variety of music is astonishing as they express the full range of human emotions – alternately soulful and humorous, restrained and vigorous, mischievous and passionate – and guide their listeners on a fascinating journey across the span of Russian culture through the ages.
- Pianist Martin Söderberg
On a gloomy October afternoon Martin Söderberg bathed the room in warm sunshine with his all-Spanish solo piano program “A Musical Journey Through Spain.” Martin’s nordic surname belies his Spanish ancestry and, having grown up in Spain, a thorough absorption of that culture. Now living in New York City, he continues to be surrounded by “new world” Spanish culture. Martin performed a range of colorful evocative works by Soler, Albéniz, Granados, Mompou, Infante, and De Falla, alternately tender, fiery, poetic, passionate, intimate, and epic. Never has our Steinway concert-grand sounded more eloquent. Demonstrating deep understanding of a rich musical legacy and style, Martin’s consummate skill and virtuosity expressed the essence of each vignette and mood. One friend in the audience – actually a Spanish lady – gave Martin the compliment of saying that he captured “el duende” – the mysterious power that a work of art has to deeply move a person. High praise indeed!
Anastasia Dedik, Boris Allakhverdyan, Gulia Gurevich
Prima Trio had a dynamic and productive week with us. It is particularly pleasing when visiting musicians are able to have an “Adirondack Experience.” The Trio structured their time in a way that allowed them several long and lazy afternoons at Chazy Lake. Boris even took up fishing, catch-and-release! Their retreat project was to prepare new material for the 2013-14 concert season. The principal works they focused on were Mozart’s Kegelstatt Trio (clarinet, viola, piano) and Bartok’s Contrasts (violin, clarinet, piano), both big, important works, each challenging in different ways. At the conclusion of their stay they performed both pieces in a free public concert at the Saranac Methodist “Church in the Hollow,” adding also Srul Glick’s Klezmer’s Wedding to round out the program. We had a turnout of about 120, considerable for a summer Sunday afternoon, and they were unanimous in expressing their appreciation for this superb ensemble. The trio then rewarded us with an encore, Piazzolla’s Otono Porteno, which elicited in another standing ovation!
The beautiful young women of Duo FAE launched their two-week retreat with a house-concert at Weatherwatch Farm. Violinist Charlene Kluegel and pianist Katherine Petersen performed selected movements from three important sonatas for violin and piano: Brahms No. 3 in D Minor; Janacek, and Franck in A Major. It was breath-taking to experience such playing – big and energetic, yet refined and sensitive – at such close range! Because they live rather far apart during the academic year (they are pursuing DMAs at Indiana and McGill Universities), their time spent together in a Hill and Hollow Music retreat is precious. They are rehearsing repertoire for a pair of concerts to be given in Montreal, as well as material to be presented at the Brahms International Competition in Austria. Good luck, ladies – we know you will perform wonderfully in these projects!
The husband-and-wife Kaganovskiy Duo began their residency with a superb concert, free and open to the public, at the Saranac United Methodist “Church in the Hollow.” Artur and Eszter Kaganovskiy performed Pleyel’s Grand Duo No. 1 for Violin and Viola, Leclair’s Sonata No. 1 for two violas op. 12, Kelsh’s Saranac Sketches for Violin and Viola (official public premiere), Moretti’s Golá (from Twelve Jewish Songs), and the Handel-Halvorsen Passacaglia for Violin and Viola. They then spent the rest of the week holed up in the studio recording this program with sound technician Joel Hurd. They promised to do their “homework” before leaving for their concert tour in Hungary and Romania: a time-consuming and intensely focused job of listening critically, selecting the best takes, and submitting them to Joel for mastering. We’ll keep you posted as this exciting project develops!