Strong start for new chamber music festival

Aug 9, 2019

Opening night at the first-ever Padanaram Chamber Music Festival had a little bit of everything: Foot stomping, Mozart, a violin strummed like a guitar, even a story about a whale.

Nearly fifty people came out to St. Peter’s church on Elm Street in Padanaram for the non-profit festival’s inaugural concert one of five free concerts that will be put on this and next weekend.

An ambitious program of music included a mix of modern and classic pieces by Mozart, Ravel, Robert Schumann, Claire Cowen, and Luise Adolphe le Beau. 

Executive Director for the festival Colin Roshak started off the evening with a story about an animal dubbed “the loneliest whale in the world,” a lone whale found by oceanographers in California that sings at a unique pitch.

“Sometimes we all feel like the loneliest whale,” Roshak said, explaining that Padanaram’s supportive arts community made the choice for a festival location easy for him. 

Six musicians took part in the opening concert, but only one played all five pieces of music: Pianist Evan Hines from Sugar Land, Texas, who graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in 2016 and now works there as a collaborative pianist.

Hines helped program the whole festival, and joked that he could have given himself more of a break.

“I did this to myself,” he laughed. “It’s like one of those things where you look at all these pieces that you want to play, and you really like, and then when you actually have to sit down and play them, you’re kind of like, ‘Hmm.’”

Hines’ program included a contemporary piece by Claire Cowen called wood:strings:hammers:flesh, in which four minuets are performed with sounds like foot stomping, plucking strings, knocking and tapping, and hitting piano wires in sync with more traditional melodies.

At one point violinist Chase Ward held his instrument like a guitar and strummed it.

Concertgoers gave everyone a standing ovation at the end of the night.

“It was wonderful,” said Dartmouth resident Fred Law. “It’s a small group, but they’re awfully powerful.”

Other audience members agreed.

“It’s fabulous,” said Mickie Rice. “It’s a great idea. To have a group of concerts like this, it’s really cool.”

“They did a terrific job,” noted her husband Cliff. 

“The musicians are all beautifully trained. Superb musicians,” said Dartmouth resident Manning Parsons, who said that the Mozart piece Piano Quartet no. 1 in G minor, K. 478 was one of the first LPs he ever owned. “[The concert] had all of my favorite composers.”

Audience members were able to thank the musicians in person at a reception after the concert.

The musicians had traveled to Padanaram just five days ago to meet each other and learn the pieces for the concert series in an intensive residency at their headquarters on Elm Street.

Ward seemed to enjoy the challenge. “I hadn’t played any of the pieces before, so it was fun to learn them in a short amount of time and just do it,” he said.

“It’s very nice to play in a more intimate, low-pressure setting,” noted viola player Chris Rogers-Beadle. “I think a lot of people were able to have more fun that way — both the audience and the performers.”

But luckily it wasn’t all work, as the musicians were able to get out for a sail in Padanaram harbor during the week.

“It’s so beautiful here,” Hines said. 

“I think it’s absolutely charming,” agreed Ward. “Everybody’s so welcoming.”

He added that being from Oklahoma, he’s not used to the sea. “Water! It’s so great,” he said with a laugh.

The music festival continues with a concert at Art Scapes gallery in New Bedford on Saturday, August 10 at 7 p.m. and one at the Olde Southworth Library in Padanaram on August 11 at 7 p.m.

Two more concerts will take place at St. Peter’s church in Padanaram on August 16 and 17.

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