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Editorial: Young musicians aplenty; what’s needed are young fans

When renowned pianist Richard Goode took the stage in Marlboro, Vt., Sunday afternoon, he was joined by what looked like a cast of thousands: two soprano soloists, a mezzo-soprano, two tenors, a baritone, a 52-piece orchestra and an enormous chorus. Most of the musicians were in their 20s, and their youthful vigor showed: The concert, a performance of Beethoven’s Fantasia for Piano, Chorus and Orchestra, Op. 80, was raucous, joyful and triumphant. The timpani tore through the audience the way the boom of Fourth of July fireworks vibrates inside your rib cage. The soloists hit impossibly high notes – and held them. The double bass players rocked, if you’re allowed to say “rocked” when discussing Beethoven, working up a sweat even as a cool breeze wended its way through the hall. When they were through, the audience – happy and vicariously exhausted – was left wishing they would hit rewind and play it all over again.

These young musicians, who had been studying their art all summer in the idyllic surroundings of Marlboro College, are in training to become the next generation of leaders in classical music. On their own, they give you faith. But a quick glance around the audience at most of their concerts this weekend was disquieting: Young people – heck, even middle-aged people – were nearly nowhere in sight.

If classical music performance has a future, musicians, educators, established orchestras and parents will need to do all they can to encourage kids to love listening to such music as much as the Marlboro musicians clearly enjoy playing it. Fortunately, there are ample opportunities for young people around here to hear professional musicians and serious students perform. For instance:

∎ Tonight at 8, the New Hampshire Music Festival’s chamber music series continues at the Smith Recital Hall in Plymouth. Among the pieces on the program: Trilogy for Clarinet, Basssoon and Piano by Gernot Wolfgang.

∎ On Thursday at 8 p.m., the New Hampshire Music Festival performs Beethoven and Berlioz at Plymouth’s Silver Center for the Arts.

∎ On Friday at 8 p.m., the New Hampshire Music Festival performs at the Capitol Center for the Arts. The concert features Berlioz’s Summer song cycle and Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony No. 3.

∎ On Sunday at 6:30, Symphony New Hampshire performs a free concert at Holman Stadium in Nashua. The concert includes Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man.

∎ On Aug. 24, an unusual concert called “Music in Every Sound” will combine the words of Henry David Thoreau with music including Charles Ives’s “Concord” sonata performed by acclaimed pianist Randall Hodgkinson. It will take place in at the Monadnock Center for History & Culture in Peterborough at 7:30 p.m.

That’s just a taste. The Concord Community Music School is home to classical concerts galore during the academic year, as well as its long-running Bach’s Lunch series of music and lectures. And with luck, the Granite State Symphony will return to the City Auditorium soon.

At Marlboro this weekend, many of the artists on stage were tagged early in life as child prodigies. Today they’re trying hard to make a living as professional classical musicians. As it turns out, the talent might have been the easy part. Making sure there’s an audience for them into the future is in everyone’s best interest.

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