2021 Summer Festival Program
The History of Monadnock Music
Our Fifty-Sixth Season!
Excellence and accessibility—the best in music made available to everyone—these were the ideals that motivated conductor-composer James Bolle and the founding trustees of Monadnock Music, and they continue to be the organization’s driving inspiration.
In 1966, Bolle brought musicians from various cities to make recordings and play a few concerts in the Nelson Meeting House. The budget was $5,000. People who happened to hear a concert enticed 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 fourteen 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 56th 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.
Monadnock Music is built on the belief that live music meets a fundamental human need, that people in rural areas as well as in large urban areas deserve to have access to the best of our musical heritage, and that classical music is a vital and universal part of contemporary life. Classical music is in fact the original “world music.” The works of Beethoven, Bach, Mozart and many others have penetrated every continent (Antarctic research stations must have great CD libraries!), reaching through time and across boundaries. A couple of historical examples bring the truth of this home: the electrifying impact that the Texan Van Cliburn’s triumph at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in the Soviet Union in 1958 had at the height of the cold war; or in 2004 in post-apartheid South Africa, when Cape Town Opera mounted a production of Beethoven’s only opera Fidelio (about oppression, resistance and the fate of a political prisoner) on infamous Robben Island, Nelson Mandela’s prison for 18 years.
Monadnock Music is dedicated to the following purposes: to first-rate professional performance of music representing the widest possible repertory ranging from solo performances through chamber music, choral, orchestral, and opera productions; to making the finest music accessible to the people of the Monadnock Region, and to nurturing future generations of musicians and music-lovers through education, outreach, and community partnerships.
Monadnock Music is further distinguished by our exceptionally close audience-performer relationship, due to our ethos, the character of our performance spaces, the fact that we perform in the smallest of villages, and because our organization is so deeply rooted in the region. Our administrative staff are members of the community, and a substantial network of local volunteers support fund drives and other events. Incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1968, Monadnock Music has been fortunate in its strong and active Board of Trustees, many with distinguished backgrounds in business, the arts, and the professions.
Monadnock Music makes exceptional music accessible to all in intimate and informal settings in the towns and villages of the Monadnock region and beyond. Through a commitment to varied and imaginative performances and teaching, Monadnock Music keeps a sense of daring and discovery alive.