Avaloch Music Institute brings classical music, young musicians to Boscawen
Sam Post, from Washington D.C., looks over at Tara Lynn Ramsey, of Cleveland, OH, as they rehearse at the Avaloch Farm Institute in Boscawen on August 20, 2013. Post, Ramsey and Josh Paulus, of New Orleans, who was also rehearsing with them, formed The Purple Line Trio while they were studying together in Chicago. They've all moved to different places since graduating but came to the Avaloch Farm Institute to just focus on making music together again during their stay.
(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
Yoon Jin Park, of New York City, practices with her colleagues Grace Wollett, on the violin, and Young Park, on the piano, at the Avaloch Farm Institute in Boscawen on August 20, 2013. The three musicians formed Trio Venia in New York and will be staying at the farm for a few weeks.
(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
Avaloch Farm Institute in Boscawen is a residency program for classically trained musicians who stay for a few weeks and spend all day practicing their craft.
(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
The sounds of Johannes Brahms’s “The Horn Trio” fill a small and simple practice suite on Boscawen’s new Avaloch Farm Music Institute. Sam Post’s fingers run across the keys of a piano, while Tara Lynn Ramsey moves with her violin and Joshua Paulus joins in on his French horn. They’re known as the Purple Line Trio, and after leaving Northwestern University in 2011, they’ve had few chances or reasons to play together.
That was until they landed a spot at Avaloch, an artists’ community for classically trained musicians that opened Sunday. Here, they’ll have two weeks to do little but play music together. They hope their recordings will lead them into competitions and recitals, giving them an opportunity to play together again.
“Just because we like playing together doesn’t mean we can always come together to play,” says Paulus, who traveled here from New Orleans. “Ideally, someone will want to hear more of us.”
Avaloch opened its inaugural season Sunday and will run through Nov. 1. Once ensembles earn a spot at Avaloch through a competitive application process, they come to Boscawen and stay for anywhere from one to three weeks. Everything, including food and a place to sleep, is provided for them, meaning the only thing they have to focus on is playing music. Aside from a small application fee and travel expenses, attending the institute is free. The operation is being funded
through a charitable organization run by Fred Tauber, who owns the Avaloch Farm property.
“The idea really is to give support to musicians so they can come and do their work unfettered by the world,” said Deborah Sherr, executive director.
Avaloch Farm, located on Hardy Lane off Water Street, is a combined vision of Sherr and Tauber. He and his wife, both professors, purchased Avaloch Farm in 1995 and own about 120 acres in Boscawen. They moved there permanently when they retired in 2008, and it’s been Tauber’s goal to give something of lasting cultural significance to Boscawen. When he shared his idea with Sherr, a cellist, she suggested creating an artists’ community specifically for chamber musicians.
Avaloch is unique in that it’s the only artists’ community in the country designed specifically for classical musicians, Sherr said. On Sunday, the institute will host a grand opening ceremony from 1 to 5 p.m. with a concert from the four ensembles currently there.
Initially, some abutters were concerned about traffic and noise Avaloch might create, and Sherr hopes to show the community the value the musicians and the institute can bring to Boscawen. Starting next year, the season will run from June 1 to Nov. 1.
The 10 artists already there said Avaloch offers a setting unlike any place else. The buildings are new but look like old farm houses. There are seven practice rooms and each ensemble has laid claim to one. Aside from structured meal times, the artists are free to do as they please and practice as much as they want. The Purple Line Trio plans to spend mornings on individual work, then do two group sessions between lunch and dinner and another after dinner.
The two weeks they’ll spend at Avaloch will be the most time the trio has spent practicing together since leaving school.
“We really loved playing with each other at Northwestern so we wanted a chance to play together again more seriously for a longer period of time,” said Post, who plays piano and heard about Avaloch through a family connection.
Another ensemble at Avaloch this week is Trio Venia, a violin, cello and piano trio. Unlike the Purple Line Trio, they practice together frequently as all three members live in New York City. On Monday, their first full day at the institute, the group practiced for 10 hours, said pianist Young Park.
“We don’t have to clean, we don’t have to cook – just focus on music, and that’s what this place is for,” she said.
A composer who recently wrote a piece for the trio will also be joining them at Avaloch later this week, she said.
Although Avaloch is focused on chamber musicians, there is one jazz ensemble that received a spot. The duo, called tooQ, is made up of recent Oberlin Conservatory of Music graduates Matt Gold, on guitar, and Nate Friedman, a percussionist. Sherr said the group’s talent, shown through their admissions DVD and recommendations, convinced her they would fit into the mission of Avaloch despite their jazz background.
The practice studio they’ve claimed is in its own small building, slightly away from the main building and under a gathering of trees. They are spending three weeks at Avaloch during which they hope to write and record enough new music for an album. The peacefulness of rural Boscawen is proving a good setting so far.
“It’s a very, very special place and a special concept,” Gold said. “I think it’s a very important opportunity to be in a very peaceful environment like this and not really have any other responsibilities than to focus on our work.”
This is just the type of environment Tauber and Sherr envisioned when they dreamed up Avaloch. Tauber hopes that for years to come, the institute will provide young musicians with a chance to grow and the community with an important cultural resource.
“I think it’s important to emphasize that we see ourselves as supporting the next generation of accomplished musicians and contributing to the long tradition of cultural music,” he said. “It’s not clear to me that people 200 years from now will be listening to the Beatles, but we’ll still be listening to Bach and Mozart.”