The 2015 Avaloch Farm season will be remembered as the “tilting point.” It marks a transition from a hope into a vibrant reality. Deb and I thought at least 5 years would be required for the Avaloch idea to take hold. Success for us was that news of our venture would effectively spread through the music community as a sanctuary for musicians and their composers. After two and half seasons we have seen that idea emerge fully realized. This year we achieved the numerical parameters of nearly full occupancy and a waiting list to participate. But numbers are only part of the story. We hoped that the Avaloch experience would capture more than the traditional concert spectrum of classical chamber music, but would also include the best in new music. Again, our aspirations were fulfilled. This year we heard exciting newly commissioned works, as well as innovative projects with pre-20th century compositions sprinkled with representation from the world of jazz. Outstanding performances of re-discovered early 17th century manuscripts, newly transcribed pre-20th century music, and works from the folk genre broke the mold, so to speak. I suppose the last concert of the season captured it all. As Deb reported, “It was an extraordinary evening that turned into a “jam” of sorts when one of the singers couldn’t contain herself and sang one of the Schumann songs they had transcribed for cello and piano. Then another, and another, and another cellist joined in, and then we were all singing!” And that is what Avaloch Farm has become. Thanks to all for your support and appreciation. We are building a community and to that end, our success is yours as well.
Those of you who have been residents at Avaloch know the drill when you leave: 1. linens in the laundry room, 2. keys in the bowl outside the office, and 3. SIGN THE BOOK!
Nearly everyone who has joined us has added a comment to the guest book, and the feeling seems to be unanimous. There is nowhere else for musicians to accomplish so much, while feeling so relaxed and cared for. Everyone mentions the fabulous food, the gorgeous surroundings, and especially, the wonderful connections and relationships formed with the musicians outside one’s own ensemble. What fun it was to attend a concert by Avaloch musicians in New York, and see a number of other Avaloch alums there to support their friends! The community is a strong and powerful one, which came to life the moment the first musicians stepped on the grounds on August 18th, 2013. We now know that it will continue to grow and flourish.
Fred and I could not be more thrilled. It is a dream come true, with a depth and diversity beyond our expectations. We thank everyone for being part of making Avaloch a unique, vibrant, essential resource.
I first learned about Avaloch Farm Music Institute from a friend and fellow cellist. She described it to me in such a way that I went home that night and googled it to be sure this was real. Had I heard right? A residency program for performers? Indeed this was the case, Avaloch Farm exists and it is, quite literally, heaven on earth for musicians.
As a free-lance performer of contemporary music, I spend most of my year on the road, bouncing from city to city and learning music at a rate that echoes that kind of lifestyle. Somehow there’s never enough time for everything, including giving oneself that much needed space to just think.
I would have conversations all the time with composer friends who would gush about the eight weeks they spent at Yaddo or the MacDowell Colony. These places sounded amazing, only problem being that they were: a) only accepting a handful of people each year by application or nomination and b) predominantly geared towards composers, writers, and visual artists, not performers like myself playing other people’s music.
Then came Avaloch Farm. I have been twice now for a few weeks each time to workshop different projects. The first was time was in 2014 as a chamber music duo with pianist David Kaplan where we focused on a combination of new and old repertoire forming two concert programs. This past summer I came under the New Music Initiative, a program which encourages performer/composer combinations to come and develop their collaborative works. My proposal included several new commissions by composers whom I brought to the farm at different junctures of my stay.
When my studio was not Grand Central Station for composers, I accomplished so much of what I had put off for the entire season.When I left the farm I felt refreshed, restored and ready to enter a new season prepared and full of energy. Before Avaloch, that wasn’t something I could say.
Beyond the work we do individually during these residencies there exists a strong sense of community at Avaloch. From the moment I first pulled up to the compound I was greeted with smiling faces and welcoming arms. We are fed like kings and queens, three square meals a day (and dessert which you think you won’t eat every night but always do) and we eat those meals together. In the evenings we have listening sessions, impromptu performances, discussions and good old fashioned hangs on the porch. The music world is quite small so invariably you’ll bump into someone you know but you’ll also form new friendships and collaborations that will take you to all sorts of exciting places.
Each ensemble or individual is also invited to participate in an outreach event during their stay which may include visiting a nearby hospital, retirement community, elementary school or community function such as Old Home Day in Boscawen(that was mine!). Fostering those relationships is as important and valuable as fostering the ones we are creating with each other as artists.
I cannot imagine my summers without Avaloch, and I am excited to see how it will grow.
The first annual Avaloch Farm New Music Initiative brought a wave of creative energy to the campus in July and early August. Curated and hosted by Hannah Collins and Michael Compitello of New Morse Code, this year’s edition featured a total of 15 ensembles and 20 composers teaming up on new works throughout the course of five weeks. Projects came in all shapes and sizes, with instrumentation ranging from one half of a clarinet to mixed septet with electric guitar solo. Works developed during the New Music Initiative have since been premiered in Los Angeles (HOCKET playing works by Kettle Corn New Music), Chicago (Andy Costello playing Kurt Isaacson), St. Louis (New Morse Code playing Chris Stark), Fairbanks (Concert Black playing Molly Herron), Boston (Transient Canvas Playing Stefanie Lubkowski), and New York (New Morse Code playing Matthew Barnson), with many more premieres on the way. The New Music Initiative sparked a special kind of collaborative and contagious energy among the ensembles, inspiring musicians to mix and join forces for jam sessions, listening parties, and impromptu performances. With so much new material being generated, sharing sessions took place nearly every night! Other highlights included a visit from our composer-in-residence, Andy Akiho, a zumba class led by Concert Black flutist Domenica Fossati (in addition to her great playing), and a solo set by Bang on a Can All-Star cellist, Ashley Bathgate.
Several of the projects were commissioned by grant giving organizations such as Chamber Music America (TAK ensemble commissioning Mario Diaz de Leon and New Morse Code commissioning Christopher Stark) and New Music USA (Ashley Bathgate commissioning Sleeping Giant).
Christopher Stark, Assistant Professor of music composition at Washington University in St. Louis, described Avaloch as “the ideal environment for creative work: full of musical energy, engaging conversations, mixed perspectives, and ample time and space to think and write. It’s a special place.”