in: News & Features

May 23, 2014

Eclectic and Electric Musics in Monadnock Region

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Jaffrey Centre Meeting House

Jaffrey Centre Meeting House 

Electric Earth Concerts of Jaffrey and Peterborough NH will be shifting to high gear in a couple of weeks, offering a mini-festival ‘June in Jaffrey’ featuring musically various events in and around the beautiful town of Jaffrey—a stone’s throw from Mount Monadnock.

Nicholas Kitchen’s solo Bach concert on June 13th is the first event in the series. Those familiar with Kitchen know that his abilities extend beyond the violin, and beyond speaking eloquently about the music he performs. He is also a bit of a tech wizard, and his show will include a projection of Bach’s beautiful manuscript to accompany his performance. Having toured the world’s musical capitals as first violin of the Borromeo Quartet, Kitchen brings a communicative approach to performing Bach that combines insightful comments and visuals to enhance his meaning. The composer’s six Sonatas and Partitas for violin repay Kitchen’s in-depth approach, with a narrative that connects the various selections with insight born of his many years’ playing the works. The program will consist of a generous helping taken from Bach’s six solo violin works.

The home base for five events which follow Kitchens opening night, The Grand View, is a venerable inn that was the residence of writer Willa Cather for a time (she is buried nearby). Musicians will be in residence for about three weeks, enabling Electric Earth to function as a festival that includes outreach events as well as public concerts. In addition to the inn at Grand View, there is an acoustically wonderful barn with comfortable seating and a stage that will house 4 of the 5 concerts, as well as a gala fundraising dinner on June 21st. The fifth event will take place at two of Jaffrey’s other fine venues: the First Church and the old Meetinghouse (1775); the concert begins at the church and moves across the green at intermission to the meetinghouse. Concertgoers will have a chance to sip refreshments and take in the beautiful surroundings before hearing the finale.

In response to BMInt’s query about the extreme eclecticism, Electric Earth’s Artistic Directors, flutist Laura Gilbert and violist Jonathan Bagg, assert that the programming recognizes that great music making exists wherever fine musicians gather to share their gifts—be they of classical, folk, or any other of the world’s ilks. Bagg says “The hope is that by now the audience trusts we’ll give them high-quality experiences no matter the genre, and they’ll take the opportunity to explore the variety of these closely-packed concerts, even if they are not normally folk music fans, or classical fans, for that matter. Stellar musicians do the same things any genre: they shape phrases beautifully, react intelligently to their band-mates, and they create intense and meaningful musical moments. They do the things that classical, folk, and jazz audiences all want to hear.”

‘June in Jaffrey’ exemplifies their approach, and Bagg and Gilbert hope people will come more than once. “The music is great, and I can’t imagine a better place to spend a June afternoon and evening”, says Gilbert. Audiences are encouraged to bring picnics for before or after. The Grand View has ample lawns that are perfect for eating al fresco, and picnics can be ordered from Sunflowers, a Jaffrey Restaurant, for pick up at the events (details at electricearthconcerts.org).

June in Jaffrey

On Tuesday, June 17th, folksinger Tim Eriksen will take the Grand View stage with a program of American ballads & love songs. Described by the Toronto Star as “among the world’s finest folk practitioners”, Eriksen presents a high energy show which demonstrates his skills as a vocalist and multi-intrumentalist, while engaging the audience so that they become part of the show as well. In his wide-ranging musical life Eriksen has played everywhere from rock clubs as the driving force behind the folk-noise band Cordelia’s Dad, to jazz clubs in collaboration with master musicians like Latin great Omar Sosa, to major concert halls like Carnegie Hall. He’s appeared on both Prairie Home Companion and the Academy Awards, and may be one of the only musicians on earth to have shared the stage with Doc Watson and with Kurt Cobain (not on the same night).

The concert on Sunday, June 22nd is in two locations, starting at the First Church and concluding at the Old Meetinghouse. This event features the red-hot young Horszowski Trio, with NY-based Jared Egan, bassist and Owen Dalby violin; Jonathan Bagg, viola, and Laura Gilbert, flute. Franz Schubert’s Trout Quintet and Antonin Dvorak’s jovial Quintet for bass and strings will be featured, with Concertino for bass, flute, and viola by Erwin Schuhoff, and a world premiere for piano trio by composer Eric Moe, of whom the NY Times says that he “subversively inscribe[s] classical music into pop culture”. Although the surfaces and genres are varied, Moe’s works share a concern for rhythmic propulsion and a disregard for stylistic orthodoxies.

Bagg and Gilbert (file photo)

Bagg and Gilbert (file photo)

On Friday, June 27th it’s back to the Grand View for a concert and contra dance with the local band Trip to Nelson. The concert will feature traditional New England dance tunes as well as Irish and French Canadian fiddle tunes. Eventually the music will reach such a pitch that the audience will be compelled to dance! Under the direction of dance caller Lisa Sieverts the chairs will disappear and dancing will begin. All dances will be taught, and the event will be open to all comers, both new and experienced.

Two supreme works from the Romantic era make up the finale to June in Jaffrey on Sunday June 29th at 4pm, at the Grand View. Johannes Brahms’ Quintet in F, Op 111, written at the peak of his maturity and one of his final pieces, will be paired with the youthful Quintet Op. 18 of Felix Mendelssohn.  Each work exemplifies perfectly the strengths of these two composers: Mendelssohn’s uncanny ability at the age of 19 to write music so exuberant and so perfect that one wants to shout, in contrast to the aging Brahms, steeped in poetic nostalgia and in absolute command of the grand tradition he so revered. Heard together they are a powerful musical experience. Performers are violinists Adela Pena, formerly of the Eroica Trio and Lilit Gampel; violists Stephanie Fong, (Simrock Quartet, Boston) & Jonathan Bagg; cellist Gregory Hesselink, well known at Apple Hill, based in NY.

Tickets may be ordered through the Electric Earth website:ElectricEarthConcerts.org/, or by calling 646-522-3352.

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