Working at Monadnock Music is a rewarding job – or should I say, jobs. Yes, not only drafting marketing campaigns, measure ROI’s (Return of Investments) and creating Facebook ads, I also load chairs, music stands, outdoor signs, and assembled six foot lamps in my car; carry 500 lbs. of tables up and down the Peterborough TownHall stairs; a page turner for pianist who need one; coordinate volunteers; and running the box office. Other MM staff members have multiple job titles as well, including production, bookkeeping, maintaining the festivals website, and many more!
I’ve started my journey at MM in 2014 as a box office intern. First of all, I had no idea that this festival existed until my flute teacher, Sarah Brady, mentioned that MM offered summer internships. I needed to find an internship that would not only complete my Music Business degree from UMass Lowell, but also to experience the administration side of running classical music festivals. I’ve learned that not only does MM offer high-end performances, but also unifies the Monandock community and reminiscing the history of old churches and meeting houses. Now, coming back in my third season with Laina Barakat as our new manager, I have a feeling that the festival is in great hands.
Saturday was our grand opening of the 51st season, with music dedicated to iconic choreographer and dancer, Martha Graham. Ryleigh Lorimer (Office Assistant and Production Lead), and production interns, Ruzzel Zullo and Caitlyn Brown, were in full gear moving risers, chairs, stands, and the shell on stage. Laina and I strategized on setting up the pre-party for members and did three trips back and forth from the office to the town house, loading tote-bags, lamps, ladders, front-of-house equipment, and more to count!
After sweating buckets from moving heavy equipment in the humid heat, the night was about to start. Members and Volunteers were treated with delicious treats made by Laina and suave table displays provided by board member, Deborah Waldo. Members and Volunteers were also treated with tote bags filled with exciting items.
Around 8pm, audience members took their seats and were greeted by William Fregosi (President of the Board). Laina also made opening remarks by introducing MM’s picnic basket auction, in which will be held August 13th. She also mentioned the significance of becoming a member to MM.
Gil Rose, conductor and Artistic Director, took the stage and introduced each piece, with B.M.O.P. preparing for some technically-challenging works.
The orchestra started with Errand Into the Maze, composed by Gian Carlo Menotti (1911-2007). This piece depicts the story of the labyrinth from Greek mythology. The labyrinth was a maze-like structure built for King Minos to contain the minotaur, a half-man, half-bull monster. Prince Theseus killed the minotaur with the help of Minos’ daughter, Araidne. Next up was Embattled Garden, composed by Carlos Surinach (1958 – ). The work represents dancers on a colorful set unfolding and erotic story of the seductiveness of temptation. The music grows in volume and intensity as the dancers continue to resist temptation. One can hear Surinach’s occasional Spanish influence which Graham’s choreography encompasses with a brief flamenco style. Lastly, the orchestra preformed The Witch of Endor by William Schuman (1910-1992). This evocative piece is derived from a biblical story, that of King Saul, Prophet Samuel, and the infamous Witch of Endor. Saul seeks guidance from God and as a last resort calls upon a medium (a person who practices in communication between the dead and living). The medium, The Witch of Endor, summons the spirit of the Prophet Samuel who predicts Saul’s defeat and death.
After a standing ovation from the crowd, it was time for the MM staff to spring into action by breaking down the stage and front-of-house, with myself taking three trips to the office. It was an exhausting day, walking about 16,000 steps and not arriving home until midnight. Nonetheless, opening night became a success.
The next day, I had some leftover energy to drive almost two hours to Keene. I met up with Michael Dell’Orto, board of trustees and Caitlyn at the Congregation Ahavas Achim. All three of us prepared for a light reception for our audiences and staged the synagog for the performers. Not only was I suppose to prepare the venue, but also to turn pages for pianist, Vivian Choi. I previously turned pages two years ago, and let me tell you – it was the most nerve-wracking thing I’ve ever done. One might view it as something easy. However, page turners need to be full-alert of what is going on in the music and turing the page at the exact moment. It can be the most frightening thing in the music world. In retrospect, it is something that I will probably be doing for the rest of my life.
Since the internet is full of content, I thought that I would search of Dvorak’s “Dumky” Trio and study the piece closely visually and auditory. Having a great ear and somewhat gifted with a photographic memory, page turning became a profession for me.
Rafael Popper-Keizer initiated the performance with a composition titled The Cresset Stone, written by Hillary Tann. Tann was present at the event and briefly described the inspiration of writing the piece. The trio then performed Copland’s (1900-1990) Vitebsk: The Study on a Jewish Theme, followed by Erwin Schulhoff’s (1894-1942) Duo for Violin and Cello, in which both Sarita Kwok and Popper-Keizer gave a stellar performance. The trio concluded with Dvorak’s Trio in e minor (and personally my favorite piece of the event).
As I conclude this blog post on a Sunday night at one in the morning, I am looking forward to this season, including more performances (and page turning) with the MM Piano Trio in Deering and Milford, with Grand Harmonie in Jaffrey and the season finale with an all Beethoven program.
As a full time grad student and a freelance musician, my time at MM is well spent with outstanding musicians and staff that I can call my friends.
– Alex Avery is the Marketing Coordinator for Monandock Music.
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