Arts and Entertainment Editor
CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. -- Lila Brown, the founder and artistic director of Music from Salem, not only trusts the music but she also trusts the audience. Not only does the chamber music group feel confident enough to offer its audiences a wide spectrum of "chamber music," it also offers "pay what you can" admission to its concerts at Hubbard Hall and invites the public into its inner sanctum, its rehearsal hall, at the Brown Farm in Salem.
So while the public can enjoy actual concerts at Hubbard Hall this week and next, Aug. 4 at 8 p.m. and Aug. 12 at 2 p.m., it can also take a peek at the musical process in action at open rehearsals today, Aug. 2, as well as Thursday, Aug. 9, both at 4 p.m.
"We have always been very careful that we present great music, no matter how foreign," Brown said this week, moments before rushing off for a rehearsal. "We hope we have built up a feeling of trust. There is not only a high standard of playing but we offer a high standard of music selections. I like to do things that are not done at every festival. People are not disappointed. They come back."
The open rehearsals, especially an interactive one in an intimate space as MfS offers, are also not done at every festival.
"We are not the only ones, but we are different, here in the studio -- we do it partly because we have that ideal space," she said. "It is intimate. ... Rehearsal in the concert hall is different. That serves a purpose too. The key is that we are not on stage. ... the difference from stage is (the audience) can’t hear you talk. Here they can hear you and you can hear and see them."
"We explain a little bit about what we are saying to each other. It is sounds like code, there is a whole way of speaking of music. We talk about structure of the bars. We explain, and have fun and ask the audience to have fun with us. It is very informal, usually between 15 and 30 people. People are encouraged to ask questions."
This week’s concert is titled "Northern Lights: Brahms/Chardon/Hovhaness/Onslow," with a program expected to include George Onslow’s "Piano Trio in D minor", and Brahms’ monumental "Piano Quartet in A major"; the group will be rehearsing the program today. Next week, the program is titled "Contours: Cage/Debussy/Mozart/ Ravel," and will feature Ann Hobson Pilot, recently retired harpist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and subject of an upcoming PBS documentary; she will joining MfS on the "Introduction and Allegro" by Maruice Ravel and a "Melody" by John Cage.
Also on the Aug. 12 program are two masterpieces of the string quartet literature by Debussy (in celebration of the 150th anniversary of his birth) and Mozart. Flutist Anouvong Liensavanh and clarinetist David Dziardziel, both recent Conservatory graduates, appear with MfS for the first time, as well as Sharan Leventhal, long-time violinist of the violin/marimba duo "Marimolin." Violinist of the Eroica Trio, Susie Park, returns, and will be joined by cellist Paul Wiancko and Brown on violin.
You can bet that talk of Debussy and his anniversary, as well as why Ravel and "early" Cage are not that different, will be topics of discussion at the open rehearsal next week.
"It is fun for us too, the musicians just love it," Brown said. "It is an interesting set of interactions. It heightens the interest for us. It is also just a lot of fun for us."
Children’s program hosted
Associated with the concert, on Thursday, Aug. 9, MfS will host a Children’s Workshop at 1 p.m., and its open rehearsal at 4 p.m.
The Children’s Workshop is a lively introduction to music-making and listening for children ages 6-12, led by the musicians from Sunday’s upcoming concert. It will be held at the Bancroft Public Library, 181 S. Main St., Salem NY, and is free.
Now in its 26th season, Music from Salem is a chamber music series that brings together musicians of international reputation to lead educational workshops and seminars and prepare chamber music in the peace and beauty of rural Washington County, New York.
Contact K.D. Norris at email@example.com.
Admission to the concerts is pay what you can. For advance tickets and information call 518-677-2495 or visit hubbardhall.org. The open rehearsals take place at the Brown Farm, 154 Priest Road, Salem, N.Y. (For reservations and directions call 518-854-7246.)