When this project was in the planning stages, I spoke to my colleague Paul Orgel to get his feedback. He asked if I knew about pianist and Vermont native Adam Tendler’s similar endeavor in which, fresh out of music school, he played a program of 20th-century American piano music in each of the 50 states. I did not, so Paul lent me Adam’s excellent book about his adventure, 88x50: A Memoir of Sexual Discovery, Modern Music and the United States of America.
Then Paul told me that Adam was curating the inaugural concert season of the Frank Suchomel Memorial Arts Center, a series of solo piano recitals featuring Vermont pianists, and that I should ask to be on it. Which I did, and Adam and the Suchomel board were graciously accommodating, and this concert was booked.
Adam, who spends most of his time in NYC, could not attend, but he sent his mother, who is still in the area.
The road to Adamant
The Adamant Music School main building
Frank Suchomel was first a student, then eventually principal benefactor and president of the Adamant Music School, which has been hosting intensive summer piano workshops since 1942. The school is so called because it is in the village of Adamant, home to granite quarries that remained active until the mid-20th century. The village of Adamant is so called because some of its residents were unhappy with its original name of Sodom. The village of Sodom was so called, some say, because it had no church. I find this hard to believe. Even in the much churchier Vermont of the nineteenth century, a name as trenchant as Sodom must have been based on what was going on there of a Sunday (not hard to imagine given the population of mostly single granite quarry workers) rather than on what wasn’t. Anyway, in 1905, residents petitioned to change the name to Adamant, after the granite quarries and the hardness of their stone; as was supposedly said, “A name perhaps as hard but not as wicked.” The village is also noteworthy for the oldest (and smallest) still-active cooperative store in the state, the Adamant Co-op, established in 1935.
Frank passed away in October 2021 and the concert series (which is independent of the school) was initiated in his honor.
Granite sculpture in the sculpture garden
Adamant is big on granite
Even a granite doghouse; Stella grudgingly models
Jean Palmisano fills in Calais
As this was part of a solo piano series, I did not seek a local collaborator for this program. Though small (capacity ca. 50; attendance for my concert ca. 30) the venue was lavishly and expertly staffed with a tech/support crew of three plus Adamant Community Cultural Foundation/Suchomel administrator Jean Palmisano.
The Suchomel Center made its own professional recording of the entire concert, which will be on YouTube (I'll add a link when it’s up).
Sonata in G minor, no. 12 (preceded by 12 ii-V-I’s)