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Summer Orchestra in the woods

June 29, 2014

It’s the start of the 2014 Summer season at the Pierre Monteux Music School for Conductors and Orchestra Musician. If you’re anywhere near its campus in Hancock, Maine and you love classical music, now is the time to start making your plans to attend one of their amazing concerts. Don’t let the fact that the musicians and conductors are still students in their craft—I couldn’t tell any of them from seasoned professionals of many years’ experience.

Tonight’s concert was full of adventure and surprises, about the best I have seen, and Monteux’s grandson Gerard shared that opinion. The show started with the Overture from Carl Maria von Weber’s Euranthe. Apparently this 1823 opera’s failure to find a following can be blamed on its weak libretto. The score is lively, full of joy and plenty of surprises.

Next four Symphonic Sketches from George Whitefield Chadwick, composed between 1895 and 1904, combined to make a symphony. The aptly named Jubilee was much like its predecessor in the night’s offerings, full of excitement and surprises, followed by the beautifully lush and flowering Noel, and the witty Hobgoblin and A Vagrom. It’s no accident that I use words like “witty” and “surprising.” Many of these pieces jumped from one time to another, with quick-paced twists and turns that had to make one laugh.

After intermission, we were given Sibelius’s Symphony No.l in E minor. The introductory clarinet solo gave a haunting theme that built and evolved into a powerful and moving piece, moving into a familiar melody with its own repetition and power, that ended with a perfectly timed, perfectly executed single note.

Most of these pieces each had its own conductor. These young men and women were a delight to behold as they led their full orchestra with grace and power, animated as much by the music as the orchestra was by them.

The Monteux School is located in the woods just off Highway One in Hancock Maine. The concert hall a big barn-like building deep in the woods, seats about 225. You are never more than 13 rows from the stage, It’s too bad that tonight’s concert, one of the best, was played to about a 2/3 house. Really, the whole experience is unique. There’s a whole summer of fresh offerings ahead. If you’re nearby, take advantage of it.

Website: Pierre Monteux School for Muscians and Conductors
Summer 2014: Concert Schedule

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