It has been a longtime dream of mine to bring the musicians of Apple Hill to Newport so I wanted to share a few thoughts about how this concert came about. (Details of this weekend’s concert at Ochre Court can be found here.)
My connection with Apple Hill stretches back to when I was around the same age as our Newport String Project students. Apple Hill was touring - performing and teaching - in Ireland and Northern Ireland as part of their remarkable Playing For Peace program. For a whole weekend, myself and my youth orchestra friends were tucked away in an idyllic Irish manor in the woods of Donegal. All weekend we participated in masterclasses with the incredible musicians of Apple Hill, who coached us on the core skills of chamber music with patience, insight and humour. On a rainy Saturday evening, we gathered for the faculty’s concert. I remember being utterly mesmerized by the expressive sweep and the electric energy of their playing - a feeling of being transported far away and yet vividly present in the room. I also recall noticing how complicated the music seemed and that I didn’t really know how to make sense of it all, but that every moment was compelling. Getting to experience that music in our remote, wildly beautiful corner of the world - it seemed both totally unreal, and yet, completely natural. Home.
Needlesstosay, after that I was hooked, and sought out the chance to come to the Apple Hill’s Summer Workshop in New Hampshire as a participant. At the workshop, I joined a group of participants of all ages, all backgrounds, all playing levels, from all over the world. With the guidance of world-class faculty, we were supported to be radically expressive no matter where we were in our journey as musicians - all of this against a backdrop of a relentlessly supportive and inclusive community.
Many beautiful summers have passed and I now have the immense privilege of serving as a faculty member at Apple Hill’s summer workshop. Through Apple Hill, I have met treasured teachers, beloved friends and even met my husband (who will also be playing on this concert!). Through Apple Hill, I have discovered my most favorite composers, musicians and an art form that I am passionate about. Through Apple Hill, I have been able to travel and to make music with people from all over the world. Through Apple Hill, I am continuously learning how to be a better teacher. Through Apple Hill, I toured with an electro disco band… The list could go on and on and what is maybe even more remarkable is that I know my experience is not that unusual for Apple Hill alumni.
I am so thrilled that the Newport String Project will be introducing Apple Hill to Newport in more ways than one this month. This Sunday, Mike Kelley’s Five Animal Stories will feature both the resident artists of Apple Hill and the Newport String Quartet onstage together. Looking ahead to April 30th, one of Apple Hill’s founders Betty Hauck will give her presentation A Life in Music Lost and Found at the MLK Center. More info here. I believe that collaborations like this illustrate the strength of long-term connections made through music - friends, teachers, students, community. These connections are at the very heart of what the Newport String Project is about and our hope is to create spaces for our students and audiences that will allow these connections to unfold in their own unique ways.
We look forward to seeing you at Ochre Court this Sunday!