ClaverackLanding ends 3-year run on high note

Born from CFO, founded by conductor Gwen Gould 25 years ago

Posted: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 11:00 am
Hudson-Catskill Newspapers
By Karrie Allen

COLUMBIA COUNTY — On Saturday, ClaverackLanding will host its final concert. But not before giving the audience what they’ve come to expect for the last three years: great music in great spaces.

ClaverackLanding will perform its swan song with the premiere of award-winning composer Sheila Silver’s “Beauty Intolerable — A Songbook,” featuring 15 songs based on the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay, who called Austerlitz home. The performance will also include poems read by Emmy Award-winning actress Tyne Daly. (See sidebar for details.)

Before it was ClaverackLanding, it was the Columbia Festival Orchestra (CFO), founded by Gwen Gould in spring 1988.

Gould’s career in music actually started at age 13 as an organist in Dutchess County, where she grew up. After college in New York City, she served as music director for several churches and gave several recitals. This led to her founding the West Village Chorale in 1971.

“I discovered that I really loved conducting great choral works,” like Mozart’s “Requiem” and Bach cantatas, as well as premieres of works by American composers. She began to hire orchestral musicians to accompany the Chorale and found that she “really loved conducting orchestra as well.”

Gould and her husband, Ed Grossman, ran JSL Computer Services, which they founded together in 1978, and she also worked as a real estate broker, founding her own company in 1985.

But then the market crashed in 1987. Her husband told her, “I think you should find a way to do more conducting.”

Thus the birth of CFO. They had their first full orchestra concert in 1989 at the Hudson Middle School, thanks to the “enthusiastic support” of the late Principal Marilyn Barry.

Over the next 15 years, CFO presented chamber and orchestra concerts in many different venues in the Columbia/Berkshire region, as well as NYC. Columbia County venues have included: PS21 (Performance Spaces for the 21st Century), St. James Church and Columbia County Fairgrounds, all in Chatham; The Shaker Museum & Library (SML) in Old Chatham (at the time); Spencertown Academy; Taconic Hills Performing Arts Center; (formerly) North Pointe in Kinderhook; and Hudson Opera House (HOH), Christ Church Episcopal and First Presbyterian Church, all in Hudson; as well as area schools, Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood in Lenox, Mass. and Merkin Hall in NYC.

Gould noted that from 1995 to 2003, CFO presented an annual Independence Day concert at SML in Old Chatham, “my favorite time” because she got to perform “towering works of American composers.” Every concert featured the Columbia Festival Chorale, a community chorus of local singers.

She did admit that it was difficult to sustain programming like this and raise money and was ever so grateful to the board and those who contributed all those years. CFO held its (first) final concert in fall 2003 at St. James Church, featuring internationally-known violinist Ani Kavafian and her student.

“Nearly 400 people attended,” said Gould.

While CFO had ended its run, Gould did not. She was the founding artistic director of Hudson Chamber Opera, also known as Hudson Opera Theater, from 2004 to 2007. Now called the Diamond Opera Theater, it operates out of the Hudson Opera House.

The theater produced two fully staged operas at the Basilica, as well as mezzo-soprano Nina Fine’s performance of “I Remember,” based on “The Diary of Anne Frank” at HOH.

In 2007, Judy Grunberg established PS21. She wanted to celebrate the 50th anniversary of “West Side Story” — a favorite of hers and Gould’s, noted Gould — so the CFO was resurrected, with five professional singers and a 57-piece orchestra presenting excerpts from the musical.

Gould presented another concert at PS21 and also established Take a Seat…in the Orchestra, a student mentoring program, allowing area students to perform with professionals from the CFO. While CFO again disbanded, the mentoring program continued through ClaverackLanding.

Gould then had a new idea: “classical in a club” — and a new venue: Club Helsinki in Hudson. In 2010, when the club opened, ClaverackLanding was born. She presented six concerts there and then expanded to the First Presbyterian Church and the Armory.

During the holiday season, she conducted the annual Messiah Sing, in which the audience participated and Take a Seat students performed with CFO professionals.

In its three years, ClaverackLanding has presented tango, Gypsy music, opera, Tibetan Singing Bowls, string quartets and more. The performers have been many, some internationally known, others local, like East Chatham’s Lincoln Mayorga (who recently performed with violinist and good friend, Arnold Steinhardt). You can see the whole list of past performers at http://claveracklanding.org.

In the past 25 years, Gould has also had the privilege of presenting many premieres, including Silver, Mayorga, David Grunberg and Jonathan Talbot, among others.

In summer 2011, she brought together some CFO members in the Columbia Festival Ragtime Band for a “Celebrate America” concert at the Fairgrounds. “If I could, I would take that band on the road,” she commented.

Now Gould is ready to write poetry, which she has been doing for about seven years. She has also self-published a book, “Luminations,” and contributed to the collection “Java Wednesdays” by her Albany writing group, the Java Poets Collective. She’s had a few poems published in Chronogram Magazine and Our Berkshire Times.

In fact, Silver set one of Gould’s poems, “Black Beauty,” (about her piano) to music and Silver and Fine surprised Gould with it at the last concert at Club Helsinki.

Gould said she may begin playing organ and/or piano again — “a little Bach every day would be good,” she said. “It has been wonderful to present other ensembles, but I miss my participation as a conductor and performer.”

But wait, you can see Gould in action at least one more time, as Grunberg has invited her to conduct a Summer Sing at PS21 Monday, July 15. Gould will conduct audience members in a community sing of Mozart’s “Requiem” and “Ave Verum” (visit www.ps21chatham.org for information and tickets).

In the meantime, “I may get my kayak out of dry dock on my lawn,” she said.

Release: Powerful Poetry – Powerful Music

EdnaPhotoin chairPHOTO CAPTION: Edna St. Vincent Millay received a Pulitzer Prize for her poetry in 1923.  She wrote for 4 hours each day, recording her thoughts, desires and loves – found loves, lost loves, even historical loves.  Inspired by Millay’s writing, award winning composer Sheila Silver has put together Beauty Intolerable – A Songbook.  The world premiere of these 15 songs will take place on Saturday, June 8th at 6:00 pm at the First Presbyterian Church, Warren and Fourth Streets, Hudson, NY.  For tickets, contact www.ClaverackLanding.org.

Powerful Poetry.  Powerful Music.

HUDSON – For 38 years, Edna St. Vincent Millay, whose middle name is in tribute to the hospital that saved her uncle’s life shortly before her birth, wrote poetry every day – from light hearted, playful sonnets to ponderous, heart-wrenching verse.  She was popular, too.  Before the invention of television, the American public could hear her reading her work over radio broadcasts.  And she is known to have sold out The Hollywood Bowl during a national tour.

Her popularity came about, in part, because her writing was accessible.  Scholars were overwhelmed with ancient Greek poetry and eager, during the early Twentieth Century, to let loose and live a simpler life.   Much of Millay’s work reflected that new lifestyle.  It could also be fun.

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends –
It gives a lovely light!

But it was the innate power of her writing that attracted composer Sheila Silver.  From her first introduction to the poems by a student in a music composition class she taught at Stony Brook, Silver recognized a strength that appealed to her.

Then, a year or two ago, Silver decided to honor a retiring mezzo soprano by writing a couple songs in her honor.   Millay’s works seemed perfect for the gig and she selected three of her “most happy and playful” poems.  The resulting songs were so well-received that it set her on a course that has resulted in the WORLD PREMIERE of Beauty Intolerable – A Songbook set to take place on Saturday, June 8th at the First Presbyterian Church, Warren and Fourth Streets in Hudson.  The performance, the final by ClaverackLanding, will begin at 6pm. Tickets for this premiere include general admission at $30.00, student entrance for $15.00,  $50.00 reserved seating with Artist’s Reception, and $150.00 including all the above along with a Private Tour of Millay’s residence, Steepletop in nearby Austerlitz.   Go to www.ClaverackLanding.org for reservations.

Three exceptional voices were selected to bring Silver’s work to life.  Lauren Flanigan, a soprano who has sung with the New York City Opera almost every year since 1990.   Opera News says, “Modern composers love her because of her innate musicality, dramatic power and lightning-fast skills and instincts.”   Deanne Meek, mezzo-soprano with a voice that “is smooth and velvety with a touch of resin in the tone.” (Opera Magazine).  And, finally, Risa Renae Harman, a soprano widely acclaimed for her technical virtuosity and communication skills as an artist.

The three exceptional singers will be joined by Tyne Daly who will recite the poems prior to the performance of the songs.  Ms. Daly, the recipient of six Emmy Awards, is best known to the public for her television work on Cagney & Lacy.   Less well-known is her interest in Millay.  She currently sits on the Board of the Millay Society – an organization dedicated to illuminating the life and writings of Millay and preserving the character of her home, Steepletop.

“I like the idea of having different voices sing Edna’s work,” says Silver.  “I created different sets for the different qualities of the singers.   And I purposely only let the voices come together at the outset and the conclusion.  Both times they sing a round using the same poem, First Fig, but I’ve written a different melody depending on whether the evening is starting out, or ending.

The composer says she had a hard time stopping.  “If I had had another six months, I probably would have written another ten songs.”  But finally, she selected what was, to her, the most difficult poem, What Lips My Lips Have Kissed, set it to music and stopped.  “It was so complete, says Silver, I didn’t feel like I needed to do any more.”

A similar thought process is going on in the head of ClaverackLanding’s founder, Gwen Gould.  After years of bringing music to the residents of Columbia County and the Hudson Valley, the classical music aficionado has decided to change her focus.  “I heartily thank everyone who has supported ClaverackLanding and Columbia Festival Orchestra and my other musical endeavors since 1988,” she says. “And, thanks to all those who have attended our diverse programs from full orchestra, to fully staged opera to intimate chamber music to tango and ragtime band!  It has been a joyful journey!  I am about to enact a plan for my next 25 years, which hopefully, like Millay, will include four hours each day dedicated to writing poetry instead of grant proposals!  I am spurred on by the fact that Sheila has set one of my poems to music, which, by the way, was a total surprise and a great gift!”

Beauty Intolerable – A songbook with music by Sheila Silver, takes place on Saturday, June 8th at 6pm.  The performance will be at the First Presbyterian Church, Warren and 4th streets, Hudson, NY 12534.  Tickets, including general admission, a reduced price student admission and special ticket packages, are available at www.ClaverackLanding.org.

Concerts and education programs of ClaverackLanding: Great Music in Great Spaces, are supported in part by Herrington’s, Hudson River Bank & Trust Company foundation, T.Backer Fund, JSL Computer Services, and many generous individuals and business sponsors.

Release: Wanting More – A Poet and a Composer

Sheila SilverPHOTO CAPTION:   Guggenheim recipient and award- winning composer Sheila Silver(left)  has created a songbook based upon the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay.  Beauty Intolerable, developed with the support of American Opera Projects, the Millay Society, ClaverackLanding and Symphony Space, will have its world premiere on Saturday, June 8th at 6 pm.  The presentation, with special appearance by Tyne Daly, will take place at the First Presbyterian Church, Hudson, NY.  For tickets go to www.ClaverackLanding.org or call 518.828.7513.  Photo credit: Metsha Renois

Wanting More – A Poet and a Composer

HUDSON – In spite of living less than ten minutes away from Steepletop, home of the Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay for most of her adult life, composer Sheila Silver came to be involved with her work quite late in life.  That’s not to say she was unaware of the poet.  In fact, in the early 1980s, she served on the panel that reviewed and selected applicants to stay at the Millay Colony, a retreat for artists.

“I probably worked on that panel for 5 or 6 years,” she says.  “They kept offering me a chance to take up residence there myself, but I never did.  It never quite worked out.  Little did I know I’d be buying a house so close (Spencertown) 10 years later.”

Fast forward to Silver’s work with a young composer, a student in one of her music classes at SUNY, Stonybrook.  “She was setting a Millay poem to music,” the Professor explains.  “But she was having kind of a tough time because she was so young and the poem, about love, was so powerful.”  The result was a struggle for the student, but an awakening for the teacher.

“That poem got me interested in Millay,” Silver says.  “I read two of the most comprehensive biographies (one of which is entitled, Beauty Intolerable) and by the time I shut the last book, I’d decided Edna St. Vincent Millay would be the subject of an opera.”

But the fates had other ideas for Silver.  Instead, she composed The Wooden Sword, an opera that received the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in 2007, then The White Rooster (performed in Hudson during the 2011 ClaverackLanding season), a piece that includes percussion and 6 Tibetan singing bowls.

It wasn’t until she ran into ClaverackLanding’s founder, Gwen Gould, in the company of Millay Society Director, Peter Bergman that the “bug” bit again.  With the encouragement of these two colleagues, Silver set about learning all she could about Millay

The result, Beauty Intolerable – A Songbook, based on the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay, will be presented by ClaverackLanding on Saturday, June 8th at 6 pm at the First Presbyterian Church, Warren and Fourth Streets in Hudson.  It is the world premiere of this work and will feature Lauren Flanigan, soprano, Deanne Meek, mezzo-soprano and Risa Renae Harman, lyric soprano.  Poems will be recited by Tyne Daly, known to television viewers for her work on Cagney & Lacy and recipient of six Emmy Awards.  Tickets are available at www.ClaverackLanding.org.

“Millay led an incredible life,” Silver says.  ““I didn’t have an angle on how to present her life in an opera.  But once I started setting her poems to music I was so delighted with the result that I thought the songs said enough.  I felt satisfied.  Enough so that I could step away.” “

At least, for a while.   Silver is about to leave for India where she’ll be studying Hindustani music in preparation for beginning her new opera, A Thousand Splendid Suns based on the internationally best-selling novel by Khaled Hosseini .  She’s been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to help in that pursuit.

“I’m going to move into a completely different kind of music,” the composer concludes.  “Then, when I’ve finished, if Edna is still lingering on the outskirts of my mind, I’ll get back to her opera.”

Beauty Intolerable will be the final presentation by ClaverackLanding.  It takes place on Saturday, June 8th beginning at 6 pm at The First Presbyterian Church, Warren and Fourth Streets, Hudson.   In addition to $30.00 General Admission tickets, $15 for students, the organization is also offering a $50.00 Reserved Seating and Artists Reception ticket, and a $150.00 ticket that includes the above along with a Private Tour of Millay’s Steepletop in nearby Austerlitz.  The historic site has only been open to the public since 2010.  Tickets can be purchased at www.ClaverackLanding.org.

Concerts and education programs of ClaverackLanding: Great Music in Great Spaces, are supported in part by Herrington’s, Hudson River Bank & Trust Company foundation, T.Backer Fund, JSL Computer Services, and many generous individuals and business sponsors.

Release: Millay’s Life through Song

PHOTO CAPTION:  Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay (Vincent to her friends) toured America during the Depression reading her work at sold out stadiums including the Hollywood Bowl and on nationwide radio broadcasts.   On Saturday, June 8th, ClaverackLanding is presenting the world premiere of Sheila Silver’s “Beauty IntoleraEDNA reads on NBCble”, a songbook of 15 songs based on Millay’s poetry.  The performance, with special guest Tyne Daly, will take place at 6:00pm at the First Presbyterian Church, 4th and Warren Streets, Hudson New York.  Advance tickets can be purchased at www.ClaverackLanding.org.

Millay’s Life through Song

HUDSON – Composer Sheila Silver, a resident of Columbia County, has been writing music her entire life – most recently devoting herself to the voice and opera.  Her work is critically acclaimed (she won the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in music in 2007 for her opera The Wooden Sword), and she has tackled a cross section of cultures (The White Rooster is accompanied by Tibetan singing bowls) and eras (The Thief of Love is based on a classic 18th century Bengali court tale).

For her most recent work, Beauty Intolerable, Silver needed only a short car ride and a library card. Silver’s Songbook of 15 Songs is based on the poetry of Columbia County’s own Edna St. Vincent Millay. “Her poetry is honest, romantic, whimsical and deeply American,” says Silver.  “It suits me perfectly as a composer.”

On Saturday, June 8th, ClaverackLanding is presenting the world premiere of Sheila Silver’s Beauty Intolerable – A Songbook based on the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay. The concert takes place beginning at 6 pm at the First Presbyterian Church in Hudson, New York.  Poetry will be read by special guest, Tyne Daly.  Tickets for this premiere, the final presentation of ClaverackLanding, are available at www.ClaverackLanding.org.

Millay was an extremely prolific poet who was dedicated to her art and spent much of her life touring in the United States, reading her work to large audiences.  She appeared before a sold out crowd at the Hollywood Bowl and frequently read aloud on radio broadcasts.  In 1923, she was a recipient of the Pulitzer Prize and in 1927 was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera House to write a libretto for an opera composed by Deems Taylor.

Her appeal came, in part, because of her wit.  A population schooled on The Odyssey found relief and joy in her simple rhymes and clear expressions.

My candle burns at both ends;

It will not last the night;

But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends –

It gives a lovely light!

            “First Fig” from A Few Figs from Thistles (1920)

Silver was one of those smitten.  “I became passionate about the poetry of Millay just a few years ago,” she says.  “I contemplated writing an opera about her, but eventually, because I was so thrilled and excited by her poetry, I decided to compose an entire Songbook based on her work.” She’s not the only one who feels strongly about the writing.  Silver’s songbook was developed with the support of American Opera Projects, the Edna St. Vincent Millay Society, ClaverackLanding and Symphony Space.  In addition to $30.00 General Admission tickets ($15 for students), the organization is also offering a $50.00 Reserved Seating and Artists Reception ticket, and a $150.00 ticket that includes the above along with a Private Tour of Millay’s Steepletop in nearby Austerlitz.  The historic site has only been open to the public since 2010.

“I had private tours several times,” says Silver.  “I’ve seen her extravagant and petite gowns, her private pictures, her bedroom where she entertained many a person, the private cabin in the woods where she diligently wrote for 4 hours a day and even her private library where she stayed up late reading.  I feel like I know her well.”

Songs will be sung by three esteemed sopranos including Lauren Flanigan, an award recipient for her commitment to performing the works of living composers, Deanne Meek, a fellow at both the Tanglewood and Revinia Music Festivals, and Risa Renae Harman, Artist-in-Residence with the Bay View Music Festival in Michigan.

TyneDaly

Poetry selected for the songbook will be recited by Tyne Daly, winner of six Emmy Awards and a Tony for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical (Gypsy).  Television viewers will probably remember her as Detective Mary Beth Lacey in the television series Cagney & Lacy and as Maxine Gray in Judging Amy.

“This is a celebration of Millay’s poetry through music,” concludes Silver.  “She was a powerful and romantic figure – an idol in her day (before the days of TV).” Cited as a visionary herself, Silver seems to be the perfect composer to take on this project.

ClaverackLanding, closing down at the end of this season, is presenting this world premiere as its final presentation.  Beauty Intolerable – A Songbook begins at 6 pm on Saturday, June 8th.  The performance takes place at the First Presbyterian Church, corner of Warren and Fourth Streets, Hudson, NY.  General admission tickets are $30.00, students are $15.  Tickets with additional benefits are either $50.00 or $150.00.  All can be purchased in advance at www.ClaverackLanding.org.  For additional information, call 518.828.7513.

Concerts and education programs of ClaverackLanding: Great Music in Great Spaces, are supported in part by Herrington’s, Hudson River Bank & Trust Company foundation, T.Backer Fund, JSL Computer Services, and many generous individuals and business sponsors.

Music from (and for) the Heart

Arnold Steinhardt  Lincoln Mayorga

CAPTION:  Lincoln Mayorga (tuxedo) spent most of his life composing, conducting and arranging music in Hollywood – soundtracks, TV scores, pop and rock-n-roll.  Names like Johnny Mathis and Disney Studios show up on his resume.  Arnold Steinhardt (sweater) took the multi-cultural exposure of his childhood in LA to heart.  He co-founded The Guarneri String Quartet, a group that re-defined classical string music during the 45 years they performed together.  ClaverackLanding is presenting these childhood friends in Arnold Steinhardt and Lincoln MayorgaFrom 0 to 75 in 60 Minutes for one night only on Saturday, May 11th at Club Helsinki, beginning at 8pm.  Tickets are $30.00 and can be purchased through www.ClaverackLanding.org  or at the Helsinki Box Office – 518.828.4800.

Music from the Heart

HUDSON – “I think people are longing for more feeling in their lives,” says pianist, composer and arranger Lincoln Mayorga.  “People are being ruled by their analytical minds.  The relationship to digital machines is a little crazy.”  – Not that he hasn’t had his own lapses: session musician and arranger for Frank Zappa comes to mind.

Mostly, though, Mayorga, an East Chatham resident, has been working hard to keep the feeling in his music.  From a close musical relationship with singer Phil Ochs, to heavily emotional soundtracks for such movies as The Rose and Ragtime, to tracks for seventies television classics including Bonanza, Dallas, and Little House on the Prairie, Mayorga has been demonstrating his love of music.

In the 1970s, he set up his own record label, TownHall (sic) Records that specialized in historical reissues and comprehensive collections of jazz and classical music.  And, just to keep things interesting, the pianist was invited to perform with the Moscow Philharmonic at their first concert devoted to American music.  He played Rhapsody in Blue and I Got Rhythm Variations.

Arnold Steinhardt, who grew up less than a mile away from Mayorga in the Los Angeles of the 1950s, took a completely different musical path.  His neighborhood was “intensely Jewish”, filled with European émigrés, and his parents had no use for popular music at all.

Instead, Steinhardt received early violin training from Iranian-born Ivan Galamian and made his debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of 14.  From there he studied at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and, in 1958, won the Leventritt International Violin Competition.  No longer extent, the contest was known to have set among the highest standards and produced more outstanding musicians (pianists and violinists) than any competition since.  Steinhardt’s winning prompted him to search for a new and better violin.  With a prize that included 6 solo performances, he needed a world-class instrument.  Years later, Steinhardt told the story of that quest in his book Violin Dreams (Houghton Mifflin, 2006).

With stops in between as second chair in the Cleveland Orchestra’s first violin section, faculty member of the Curtis Institute and, later, faculty member at the Colburn School in LA, Steinhardt is best known as co-founder and first violinist of The Guarneri String Quartet.  A staple among string performance groups for more than 40 years, the group made numerous recordings during its long history, including some of the most important works in the string quartet and chamber music literature.  They disbanded in 2009.

Between the two of them, stories abound.  Steinhardt and Mayorga grew up together.  They attended school together.  They both played in the Bancroft Junior High orchestra.  And, they’ve kept in touch since 1949.  Including a few pieces recorded together, these two old friends have a lifetime of musical memories to talk about.

Arnold Steinhardt and Lincoln Mayorga – “From 0 to 75 in 60 Minutes” is slated for Saturday, May 11th at Club Helsinki in Hudson.  The show starts at 8 pm.  Tickets are $30.00 and can be purchased through www.ClaverackLanding.org or at the Helsinki Box Office – 518. 828.4800. By making pre-show dinner reservations, seating in the club in guaranteed.

The evening, a one-of-a-kind reminiscence, should actually be titled “From 0 – 76 in 60 Minutes” as that is the current age of these two gold-standard musicians.  Along with plenty of talk and laughter, the twosome will be playing the Brahms Sonata in A Major, the Grieg Sonata #3 in C Minor (recorded together in 1985), and Mayorga’s composition West Hollywood Rumba (created at the request of Steinhardt). “For any audience that comes,” says Steinhardt, “there will be stories and beautiful music.  We have a long history together.”

A musical force in her own right, the performance will be followed by a celebration of ClaverackLanding founder Gwen Gould’s 25 years producing concerts in Columbia County.

Concerts and education programs of ClaverackLanding: great music in great spaces, are supported in part by Herrington’s, Hudson River Bank & Trust Company foundation, T.Backer Fund, JSL Computer Services, and many generous individuals and business sponsors.

For the Audience: Stories and Beautiful Music

ArnoldLincoln

PHOTO CAPTION: Lincoln Mayorga (left) was staff pianist for Walt Disney Studios and contributed to the soundtracks of such motion pictures as “Chinatown”, The Competition” and “Ragtime.”  Arnold Steinhardt (right) was a founding member of the internationally acclaimed Guarneri String Quartet – recipients of dozens of awards for excellence in string playing.  ClaverackLanding is presenting these two in concert: “Steinhardt/Mayorga – From 0 to 75 in 60 Minutes” at Club Helsinki on Saturday, May 11th beginning at 8 pm.  For tickets ($30.00 each) go to www.ClaverackLanding.org or call Club Helsinki directly at 518.828.4800.

For the Audience: Stories and Beautiful Music

HUSON – In 1952, two young boys from Bancroft Junior High School in Los Angeles played in the orchestra together, played in their backyards together, and played at being grown-up impresarios.  For youngsters, it was a time when arts education was at its peak.  The school had a senior orchestra, a junior orchestra, senior and junior choirs, a patriotic bugle corps and even a class for “remedial” instrumentalists.  Those were the days….

For these two, at least, all that training paid off.  After making his solo debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of fourteen, Arnold Steinhardt went on to be a founding member (1964) and first violinist of the internationally acclaimed Guarneri String Quartet.  The group criss-crossed the globe and made numerous recordings, many of which are considered the most important works in string quartet and chamber music literature.

Mayorga took a different route to success entirely.  While his training was as a classical pianist, he began his career as an arranger for his high-school friends, The Four Preps.  He went on to be part of several rock and roll groups, segued to work with Phil Ochs, and released the first single ever on Frank Sinatra’s Reprise record label in 1961.  He became staff pianist for Walt Disney Studios and contributed to the soundtracks of Chinatown, The Rose and Ragtime.  He also worked on the music for familiar TV series Bonanza, Dallas, Little House on the Prairie and Highway to Heaven.  Not one to be pigeon-holed , he spread his wings as a  session musician and arranger who worked on recordings with Sam Cooke, Dory Previn, Johnny Mathis, Barbra Streisand, Mel Torme and Frank Zappa.

On Saturday evening, May 11th, beginning at 8 pm, these two extraordinary personalities will be sharing memories of over 75 years in music, during their performance: Arnold Steinhardt and Lincoln Mayorga – “From 0 to 75 in 60 Minutes”.  Presented by ClaverackLanding, the show takes place at Club Helsinki, 405 Columbia Street in Hudson.  Tickets are $30.00 and can be purchased online at www.ClaverackLanding.org or by calling Club Helsinki at 518.828.4800.

“The program will be like a meal,” says Steinhardt.  “There will be several courses with lots of variety.  We’ll be playing the Brahms Sonata in A Major; a piece we put on CD years ago, The Grieg Sonata #3 in C Minor, and, for the ice cream course, a rumba that Lincoln wrote for me years ago.”  Interspersed will be stories from each of them – “talk of how our lives have intertwined over the years” as well as ways they spun off in independent directions.

“We’ve each had different experiences in music,” adds to violinist. “But, it’s bringing those two viewpoints together that has been so influential for each of us.  My classical music is interpreted differently because of my exposure to Lincoln’s style and approach.”  Mayorga, too, has taken his film and rock background and played a series of solo classical concerts that are deeply affected by his commercial ventures.

Together, these two childhood chums, now both 76 years old, will be spending an evening “schmoozing” as Steinhardt puts it.  “It should be an absolutely delicious evening.  We’ll give the audience something classical and something popular.  For anyone that comes, it’ll be an evening of stories and beautiful music.

Arnold Steinhardt and Lincoln Mayorga – From 0 to 75 in 60 Minutes” takes place on Saturday, May 11th beginning at 8 pm.  The show will be at Club Helsinki, 405 Columbia Street, Hudson.  Tickets are $30.00 and can be purchased at www.ClaverackLanding.org or by calling Helsinki at 518 828.4800.

Concerts and education programs of ClaverackLanding, great music in great spaces, are supported in part by Herrington’s, Hudson River Bank & Trust Company foundation, T.Backer Fund, JSL Computer Services, and many generous individuals and business sponsors.

 

Review: ClaverackLanding “Two Geniuses”

by John Paul Keeler
for Hudson-Catskill Newspapers

ClaverackLanding brought young musicians from the Bard College Conservatory of Music to perform two quartets by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) along with readings by poet Kate Light on both Mozart and Albert Einstein (1879-1955) titled “Two Geniuses” at the Presbyterian Church.

Kate Light read with delight her words and poetry celebrating Einstein and Mozart between the movements of the two quartets.  Her celebration of Einstein was particularly grand and the Mozart was fine but he spoke so eloquently of himself in the two quartets.

Hansegger portrait_Einstein_1

The great painter John Hansegger (1908-89) who lived in Columbia County for over a quarter century painted Einstein from life at Princeton in 1953.  Hansegger said that the sessions with Einstein were the most memorable of his career.  Hansegger and Einstein conversed in their Swiss-Deutsch dialect.  Hansegger remembered that Einstein told delicious Swiss Jokes and even played on the violin for him.  Hansegger reported “Einstein loved classical music and said that Mozart’s music could be a proof of God and that perhaps by the next century science and religious belief might actually converge.”

The young Bard musicians played magnificently.  This writer in a long life has heard all the famous Quartets way back to the Lowenguth Quartet that came from Paris in 1949 to play Mozart’s Quartets dedicated to Haydn.  These young musicians matched the best of one’s memory.

The program began with Mozart’s “Quartet No 21 in D Major K575″. Composed for King Frederick of Prussia who was an excellent cellist caused Mozart to write a cello part that deferred to the “royal virtuosity”.  It is a brilliant melodic miracle pulsing with joy and optimism.  The fine artists Scott Moore and Reina Murooka, violins, Rosemary Nelis viola and Stanley Moore cello reached lyric heights through the magic of their playing.

After intermission Jiazhi Wang and Jiamin Wang violins David Toth viola and Rylan Gajek-Leonard cello played the last of the Mozart Quartets dedicated to Joseph Haydn “The Quartet in C Major”, “The Dissonance” K 465″.  At the premier performance Haydn told Mozart’s father “I tell you before God, and as an honest man, your son is the greatest composer known to me by person or reputation.  He has taste, and what is more, the greatest skill in composition”

The quartet is known as the “Dissonance Quartet” because of its mysterious discordant beginning that sets the mood for this unique masterpiece.  It shocked the public and those complaining to Haydn about it heard the old master, “Well if Mozart wrote it, he must have meant it”.  Heightened expression and rhythmic spice brings the work into ecstatic wonder and the elegance of the minuet is only surpassed by the final movement which goes like the wind bringing down the house by the brilliance of the young artist.

Bard at the Landing…poetry and music

Bard-Quartet-photo-by-JanosPHOTO CAPTION: Students at The Bard Conservatory of Music will be playing Mozart’s String Quartet in D major, K575, at an upcoming presentation by ClaverackLanding.  The evening, with original poetry by Kate Light, is called Einstein’s Mozart: Two Geniuses – a Bard at the Landing presentation. Pictured here (from left) are Scot Moore – violin, Rosemary Nelis – viola, Reina Murooka – violin and Stanley Moore – cello.  The concert takes place on Saturday, April 13 beginning at 6 pm, at the First Presbyterian Church in Hudson.  Go to www.ClaverackLanding.org for tickets and information.
photo credit: Janos Sutyak

Two Geniuses Celebrated in Poetry and Music

HUDSON – In 1905, Albert Einstein published five papers and introduced his revolutionary Theory of Relativity.  Almost two-hundred and fifty years earlier, Wolfgang Mozart, a genius in his own right, was born in Salzburg, a city in what is now Austria – then part of the Holy Roman Empire.  In 2005, Kate Light, a librettist, lyricist and poet was commissioned by the Colorado Chamber Players to commemorate the close convergence of these two greats.

The result is Einstein’s Mozart: Two Geniuses a combination of music and poetry that is being presented by ClaverackLanding on Saturday, April 13th beginning at 6 pm.  The event takes place at the First Presbyterian Church on the corner of Fourth and Warren Streets in Hudson.  Tickets are $20.00 each and can be obtained on-line at www.ClaverackLanding.org.  Two string quartets, made up of students from the Bard Conservatory of Music will be playing works by Mozart.

“This is National Poetry Month,” says ClaverackLanding’s founder, Gwen Gould.  “We wanted to make sure to celebrate poetry in some way as part of our chamber music series.  The opportunity to have Kate Light come and perform her own compositions is a special treat.  Kate played in the Columbia Festival Orchestra for many years, but more recently, has been working extensively on original pieces.  To be able to present this convergence of chamber music by Mozart and Kate’s readings is like offering the best of both worlds.

Scot Moore, a Bard student and violinist, has his own take on the musical selections.  During the first half, the String Quartet in D major, K575 will be played in conjunction with readings in observation with Einstein. “To my  knowledge,” says Moore, ”this isn’t a very progressive piece in terms of melody and tonal development.  In fact, its nickname is The Violet.  But there are clever inner workings and rhythmic integrity, and a devilish cello part (played by Moore’s brother, Stanley).  I equate it with Einstein’s internal thought process.”

Part two, featuring the String Quartet in C Major, K465Dissonance” brings different thinking into play.    Says Moore, ”I think that Mozart was pushing his skills and intellect in order to impress Hayden, his idol.  Since it is Hayden who is attributed with the invention of the string quartet, Mozart wanted to push the boundaries of the new form.  Including a long dissident line is one way of stretching the definition of the string quartet.”  Bard’s Jiazhi Wang- violin, Jiamin Wang – violin, David Toth – viola and Rylan Gajek-Leonard – cello will be playing this piece.

In this original presentation, the two men “meet” through the imaginations of both and through the magic of Mozart’s music. The performance will alternate movements with poetry and readings meant to emphasize the similarities of the two geniuses;  Mozart, with over 600 works created during his brief life and Einstein, named “Person of the Century” in 1999 by Time Magazine.   Light captures the similarities in her poetry and draws upon the emotions captured in the two string quartets to round out the lives of these extraordinary men.  Cho-Liang Lin, Music Director, Summerfest LaJolla described Einstein’s Mozart as an “informed, insightful and heartfelt tribute to two giants of mankind.”

Bard at the Landing: “Einstein’s Mozart: Two Geniuses begins at 6 pm on Saturday, April 13th at the First Presbyterian church in Hudson.  Tickets can be purchased online at www.ClaverackLanding.org and cost $20.00 each.  For more information, go to the website or call 518.828.7513.

Concerts and education programs of ClaverackLanding, great music in great spaces, are supported in part by Herrington’s, Hudson River Bank & Trust Company Foundation, T. Backer Fund, JSL Computer Services, and many generous individuals and business sponsors.

 

 

 

 

Celebrate Poetry Month & Two Geniuses April 13!

kate LightPHOTO CAPTION: Kate Light, a librettist, lyricist and poet will be performing her original work, Einstein’s Mozart: Two Geniuses, in conjunction with Bard at the Landing – part of ClaverackLanding’s spring chamber music series.  This presentation includes two of Mozart’s string quartets interspersed with poetry and readings linking the life of the composer to that of 20th century genius, Albert Einstein. The evening is timed to occur during National Poetry Month and will take place at the First Presbyterian Church, Warren and Fourth Streets in Hudson on Saturday, April 13th beginning at 6 pm.  For tickets, go to www.ClaverackLanding.org.

National Poetry Month Inspires Classical Music Presentation

HUDSON – In 1996, President Clinton declared the first National Poetry Month with these words: “[It] offers us a welcome opportunity to celebrate not only the unsurpassed body of literature produced by our poets in the past, but also the vitality and diversity of voices reflected in the works of today’s American poetry…”  The resulting spotlight has brought some welcome exposure to the vast creativity shown by the country’s poets.

On Saturday, April 13th beginning at 6 pm, Kate Light will be adding her own poetic and narrative voice to the innovative works of 21st century poets when ClaverackLanding presents: Bard at the Landing: “Einstein’s Mozart: Two Geniuses”.  The performance, including two student string quartets as well as Ms. Light, begins at 6 pm and takes place at The First Presbyterian Church, Warren and Fourth Streets in Hudson.  Tickets are $20.00 each and can be purchased at www.ClaverackLanding.org.

Both men were creative and led extraordinary lives.  Einstein is even known to have played Mozart’s works on his violin in order to clear his mind.  So Light allows them to “meet” through the imaginations of both and through the magic of Mozart’s music.  String Quartet in D major, K575 will be performed by Scot Moore and Reina Murooka – violins, Rosemary Nelis – viola and Stanley Moore – cello, students in The Bard Conservatory of Music. The “575,” as violinist Scot Moore calls it, will serve as a backdrop for poems about Einstein. Here is an excerpt from Light’s “From ETHER, OR…?”

Excuse me, dear physicists,
please make a note of this;
I have a radical theory of light:

If I may articulate:
it’s both wave and particulate.
You’ll want to debate, so I’ll wait, for I’m right.”

In the second half, students Jiamin and Jiazhi Wang – violins, David Toth – viola and Rylan Gajek-Leonard – cello, will play Mozart’s String Quartet in C major, K465 “Dissonance”.  This piece will act as a counterpoint to Light’s narration about Mozart.   Included will be this excerpt from Light’s TRAVELING IN COACH.

Could he play with a cloth totally covering the keys?
Could he improvise fugues with astonishing ease?
Could he make up an aria with pure melodies?
And a text as well? As quick as you please.

Did he ever get tired; did he ever feel pain?
Did he once say, Please, don’t put me through this again?
Did he say, Couldn’t somebody else entertain?
He was such a good boy. He would never complain.

Student Moore observes: “I think with “Dissonance”, Mozart was pushing his skills to impress his idol, Hayden.  We know Einstein was constantly pushing himself, too.  It seems reasonable that there is a parallel between the two.”

Light found commonalities, too.  Einstein, a physicist and creative thinker, published five papers in a single year – including his revolutionary Theory of Relativity.  Mozart, a child prodigy, wrote and performed nearly 600 musical works in his brief life – becoming one of the most widely played composers in the world.  To her, it seems like a natural connection.  “This is an exploration of two creators who left indelible marks on our world,” she concludes.

The poet is leaving her own indelible mark, too.  Her work includes the libretto for The Life and Love of Joe Coogan, an opera adapted from an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show; Metamorphoses, a musical-in-progress based on Ovid’s life and work and the lyrics for the song “Here Beside Me” heard in Disney’s Mulan II.  Her poetry has appeared in The Paris Review, New York Sun, Feminist Studies and has been featured four times on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac.  Keillor edited her book Good Poems for Hard Times.  During 2011 – 2012, Light was Resident Artist with American Lyric Theater’s Composer Librettist Development Program.  She has also been Visiting Professor at Cornell and Musashino Art University in Tokyo.

The performance, part of ClaverackLanding’s “Bard at the Landing” series, takes place on Saturday, April 13th beginning at 6 pm at The First Presbyterian Church on the corner of Warren and Fourth Streets in Hudson.  For more information and tickets, go to www.ClaverackLanding.org.

Concerts and education programs of ClaverackLanding, great music in great spaces, are supported in part by Herrington’s, Hudson River Bank & Trust Company foundation, T.Backer Fund, JSL Computer Services, and many generous individuals and business sponsors.

Music and Poetry – Combined at the Speed of Light

EinstMoz

PHOTO CAPTION: Albert Einstein is half of the brilliant combination that inspired poet, librettist and lyricist Kate Light to create her music and poetry compilation Einstein’s Mozart: Two Geniuses.   On Saturday, April 13th, Light will read her poetry and act as historical narrator while students of the Bard College Conservatory of Music play string quartets written by Mozart.   The event takes place at the First Presbyterian Church in Hudson beginning at 6 pm.  For information and tickets, go to www.ClaverackLanding.org.

HUDSON – Fans of chamber music would probably never find a commonality in the lives of W.A. Mozart and Albert Einstein.  But Kate Light, a violinist for many years with the Columbia Festival Orchestra and New York City Opera, a lyricist and poet, saw something more.

“The two men were both definitive geniuses of their ages,” she says. The parallels seemed obvious.  Mozart was a child prodigy who wrote more than 600 musical works.  Einstein, at 26, published 5 definitive papers in a single year (1905). Each was singularly creative.  Together, their stories inspired Light to write some ”information-packed” poetry and prose about the two men’s extraordinary lives and creative work.

Light will be reading the result in company with the students of the Bard College Conservatory of Music on April 13th beginning at 6 pm when ClaverackLanding presents Bard at the Landing: “Einstein’s Mozart: Two Geniuses” at the First Presbyterian Church in Hudson.  Tickets are $20.00 and can be purchased online at www.ClaverackLanding.org.

Two Mozart string quartetswill act as a landscape for Light as she “fills in” the details of the two geniuses.  In the first half of the performance, the String Quartet in D major, K575 will be performed in alternate movements with poems about Einstein.  Performers for this portion of the program, all students at the Bard College Conservatory of Music, include Scot Moore and Reina Murooka – violins, Rosemary Nelis – viola and Stanley Moore – cello.

After the intermission, Light will read pieces inspired by Mozart “somebody I’ve spent a lot of time with over the years.”  His String Quartet in C major, K465 “Dissonance” will be performed by Jiamin Wang and Jiazhi Wang, violins, David Toth, viola and Rylan Gajek-Leonard, cello.

The program, premiered in 2006, has been called “a landmark of artistic synthesis” and “an informed, insightful and heartfelt tribute to two giants of mankind.”  It was chosen specifically by ClaverackLanding’s founder, Gwen Gould as part of the celebration of National Poetry Month. “I write poetry myself,” she says. “This event combines two creative arts that are very close to my heart.  And it’s a great way to support the national efforts to expose more people to the vitality and cultural diversity of poetry.”   The Hudson Area Library will be including all publicity for this ClaverackLanding event in its bulletins in hopes that card holders and library patrons will become aware of this opportunity to explore poetry and its relationship to music.

Bard at the Landing: “Einstein’s Mozart: Two Geniuses” begins at 6 pm on Saturday, April 13th.  The performance is at the First Presbyterian Church on the corner of Fourth and Warren Streets in Hudson.  Tickets are $20.00 and can be purchased at www.ClaverackLanding.org.   To view a trailer about this work go to: www.katelight.com/emtrailer.html.

Concerts and education programs of ClaverackLanding, great music in great spaces, are supported in part by Herrington’s, Hudson River Bank & Trust Company Foundation, T. Backer Fund, JSL Computer Services, and many generous individuals and business sponsors.