Redefining chamber music

Saturday July 6, 2013

CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. -- Almost three decades ago Lila Brown and Judith Eissenberg (now Gordon), had an idea: To revamp chamber music, polish off its stodgy image and introduce it to a new generation of music fans. Next all they needed was a home, which they found in Hubbard Hall in Cambridge, N.Y. Brown and Eissenberg (Gordon) met with the Hall’s executive director Benjie White, everything clicked, and Music from Salem found a place of its own.

"We just walked in the door and it was perfect timing," Brown said. "We started with one concert, and then we started playing for grants Š We’re still going strong."

During its 27th season, Music from Salem will host 22 events including concerts, open rehearsals, children’s workshops, listening clubs, and cello and viola seminars. The first concert is tonight, July 6, at 8 p.m. at Hubbard Hall. The concert, "Britten, Influences & Intimacies," is based on and explores the works and influences of contemporary English composer Benjamin Britten (1913-1976). It includes pieces from Britten, Frank Bridge (1879-1941), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1765-1791), and Henry Purcell (1659-1695).

The show features Sharon Roffman, on violin, Rhonda Rider on cello, Gordon on piano and Brown on viola.

"It’s been fascinating rehearsing it," said Brown, who teaches viola at Boston Conservatory.

Brown, who lived in Europe for 24 years but still maintained Music from Salem the entire time, hopes to change people’s opinion on chamber music; she’s even been developing a new name for the genre.

"I wish chamber music had a new name, because people think it’s something old fashioned. And it isn’t," she said. "It doesn’t do service to the vitality of the music Š It’s just a magical atmosphere. It’s a wonderful musical experience."

The following Sunday, July 14, at 2 p.m. at Hubbard Hall, Music from Salem presents "Fantasy, Serenade, Romance," a selection of four pieces featuring Jacob Barton on udderbot, a homemade instrument of his own design made from a rubber glove and a bottomless glass bottle. Since the instrument’s reveal in 2005 it has taken off in popularity on the Internet and was featured in an article in Mental Floss magazine. The instrument produces a haunting sound which Brown compared to that of a theremin.

"He’s really practiced it so he can play like a singer," Brown said. "That’s going to be a lot of fun."

On Sunday, July 7, there will be an encore performance of "Britten, Influences & Intimacies," at the Sembrich Museum in Bolton Landing, N.Y. at 7:30 p.m.

For more information visit or call 518-232-2347, tickets are available by donation.

About Hubbard Hall

Hubbard Hall is non-profit arts center in Cambridge, N.Y. It was founded as a not-for-profit corporation in 1978, and it located in an opera house built in 1878. For more information go to

Andrew Roiter can be reached at, follow him on Twitter @Banner_arts


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