In its 20-year history, Saranac’s Hill and Hollow Music has brought over 100 professional chamber music ensembles to the Adirondacks. Their community outreach has included over 1,250 presentations in schools, churches, senior residences and community centers. For founders Angela Brown and Kellum Smith the vision has grown to include a year-round Rural Retreat Program for professional musicians and the Northern Adirondack Vocal Ensemble (NAVE).
NAVE debuted in December 2011 and currently Conductor Drew Benware continues to work with Hill and Hollow to fill a distinct niche with this a cappella choir. According to Brown, by keeping this vocal ensemble small, NAVE is able to focus on a musical repertoire that enhances the goals of Hill and Hollow.
Trustee, Founder and Executive Director Angela Brown says, “At Weatherwatch Farm we offer artist retreats to musicians. As an artist you can get stuck in the urban jungle. Most artists make little money, making it difficult to find time to get away and get into nature. The farm is 370- acres and gives artists the opportunity to renew themselves in nature. That is what can motivate us. It allows us to decompress and create.”
The visiting professional musicians are then asked to play a concert from their new work or from existing pieces. Through their retreat program, Hill and Hollow is able to glean from the top professional chamber ensembles and have them perform locally. Some concerts will showcase new CDs that have been mastered and recorded in Hill and Hollow’s professional studio or an arrangement prepared for an international competition. Some performances include dinner while others just feature the beautiful chamber music.
The upcoming Hill and Hollow summer schedule offers a buffet for the music lover in all of us. Some concerts are free while others have a modest fee.
“We present the concerts in an informal manner allowing the audience to meet and question the visiting artists. The musicians connect with the audience, sharing information regarding the composers and musical themes,” says Brown. “It is a very intimate art form. That conversation helps create a relationship. The performances become social occasions.”
Most concerts take place at either the Saranac United Methodist Church (the Church in the Hollow) or at Weatherwatch Farm. Sonic Escape‘s husband and wife team of Shawn Wyckoff and Maria Millar will bring their award-winning violin and flute chamber music to Weatherwatch on June 15. Touted as “a force of epic proportion,” their performances are a fabulous blending of folk, classic and world music with improvisation, conversation and storytelling. Other artists coming this summer will be the Kaganovsky Duo on July 7, Duo FAE on August 4 and Primo Trio on August 25. Enjoy!
Photo of the Johannes Quartet, with violinists Soovin Kim and Jessica Lee, cellist Peter Stumpf, and violist C.J. Chang. Photo by John Eldridge used with permission.