It was in 1966 that James Bolle brought musicians from the big cities to make recordings and play a few concerts in the quiet Nelson Meeting House. People who happened to hear a concert dragged their friends to the next one or one the next year. No one could quite believe that musical performance of such high caliber was flourishing in this rural corner of New Hampshire. Astonishingly it did, and this season, dozens of musicians from all over the country will perform in twelve concerts in towns around the Monadnock region.
A strong commitment to the performance of contemporary music, particularly by young American composers, met at first with resistance from audiences but has won ever-increasing acceptance. Composers Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, Frederic Rzewski, Tobias Picker, Sheree Clement, Joan Tower, John Adams, Roger Sessions, Marilyn Ziffrin, Louise Talma, Charles Fussell, Elliott Carter, Mark Kuss, José Lezcano and Charles Wuorinen are among those who have been on hand to hear, play, coach and/or conduct their works.
In 1985, Monadnock Music embarked on Monadnock Music in the Schools (fomerly Lend An Ear!), an innovative project which brings small ensembles of brass, string and woodwind players to children in as many schools in the region as possible on a regular basis. These programs are aimed at developing the audiences of tomorrow. Monadnock Music in the Schools is funded by a Community Impact grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation as well as support from Putnam Foundation, The Frederick Smyth Institute of Music, and from numerous businesses and individuals. Monadnock Music in the Schools has served over 25,000 children in the Monadnock region since its inception.
Monadnock Music has been lead by a succession of talented professionals: Alan Feinberg, Jonathan Bagg and Laura Gilbert, and William Chapman. Gil Rose assumed artistic leadership in 2012, followed by Rafael Popper-Keizer in late 2019. He is currently supported by general manager, Laina Barakat.
Monadnock Music continues to develop and expand its artistic and educational programs in keeping with its dedication to the region and the many communities that it serves. Now in its 55th season, Monadnock Music has been a stable and integral part of the cultural life of the New Hampshire and the Monadnock region and has remained firmly attached to its original goal of combining music of the highest quality with community service.