The concert is warned
Church, Grange, Garage...and now Arts Center
The Seven Stars Arts Center is in the former Baptist Church. There are lots of disused or converted church buildings in Vermont, which with neighboring Massachusetts and New Hampshire is one of the three least religious states—though ironically Sharon is the birthplace of Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism, the fastest-growing religion in the US.
Seven Stars sounded like a promising venue. Passing through in the first summer of the project, we stopped by unannounced in the early evening and explained our mission to the woman watering the flowers. This was Anne Mapplebeck, an artist and the event organizer for Seven Stars, who told us she’d heard about the project and hoped we would play there. It was in the stars, so to speak.
Prior to Sharon we’d played in 11 churches, 2 current or former Grange halls, and one school. In its varied history Seven Stars has been all of these. It was also an automotive shop for a while, making this our first garage concert. Anne and ceramicist Michael Barsanti, president of Seven Stars and Anne’s husband, did a fine job promoting the event and presented us with a full house of 60 enthusiastic listeners.
Scarlatti Sonata in F minor, K.19, preceded by 19 ii-V-I’s
Chris Rua plays Schumann Romances 1 & 3 for oboe
“Evening” from Eight Czech Duets (Karel Husa) with Annemieke McLane
Liszt, Five Hungarian Folk Songs
Meanwhile I was graced with multiple local collaborators. Chris Rua teaches oboe at Seven Stars and played two of the darkly passionate Romances op. 94 by Robert Schumann. Chris is active in the local chapter of 350 Vermont, the beneficiary of the afternoon’s donations, and spoke about their activities. I also reprised the Eight Czech Duets of Karel Husa with Annemieke McLane, who had joined me in Strafford in August. (Annemieke lives in Sharon but was music director at the Strafford church, so we got to count her in two localities.) I chose the Five Hungarian Songs of Liszt because of another local connection. Richard Bush is a volunteer at the therapeutic riding center High Horses and had asked if he could say a few words about the operation, and if I could play something horsey to lead him in. (The fourth of the Liszt songs is a jaunty gallop about a peasant who outsmarts the commissary whose horse he has stolen.)
Our recording M.O. is high-tech lo-fi: a stationary iPhone set up in the back of the room. For the Sharon concert we were lucky to have Chad Finer volunteer his much fancier services. CHad a prolific recordist of the music of the Connecticut upper valley which he posts to his dedicated YouTube channel. All clips here are from Chad’s video, and the complete concert is on his channel.
Chad Finer sets up his mics
Audience and historic curtain
Anne Mapplebeck “finally makes use of that art degree...”
...as one audience member wisecracked