Ashuelot Concerts was created in order to grow the love of classical music and show how it can be used as a powerful force for good in our community. Music heals, it challenges, it stretches our brains and it touches even those who are least expecting it. We believe classical music can make a real difference and so we are setting out to remove the barriers that prevent people engaging with music: In 2017 in the US, classical music made up only 1% of all the music bought, downloaded or streamed. It is up to us, concert-artists and music-lovers alike to work together to change this situation. Why? Because classical music has so much to offer future generations and it cannot be allowed to be marginalized further.
In Year 1 our goal was to establish a world-class chamber music concert series here in Keene, build a loyal audience and create a path to financial security. We aim to bring some of the world's best musicians here in the future. We have succeeded in attracting a wonderfully devoted and enthusiastic audience, so now the real work begins to grow that audience beyond those who already love classical music. We want to encourage people to be curious, welcome them to our events and make sure that every performance cannot fail to leave a positive, permanent impression.
All of our performances are introduced from the concert stage so our audiences get to know the background of each piece and are given a way in, a narrative to follow, while they are listening. We choose the music carefully so that each program is balanced, emotive and inspiring and the musicians are always available to meet and greet the audience at the end of each concert. We want to become the gateway to a life in music.
We are passionate about the power of the music we play, but we also realize it was written for another time, in many cases for an audience who knew a great deal about music already. These days we feel it is unrealistic to expect the un-initiated to sit silently, in relative discomfort, for up to two hours(!) and enjoy what we serve up in a concert program! We believe we must offer multiple ways to enter in to this incredible world, starting with our children, but also opening the door to any adult who is curious to find out more about music and what life is like as a touring musician.
School Workshop Performances
This year we are aiming to take all of our concert programs into our local schools. Why? Because we believe that learning an instrument is one of the most beneficial tools in education and step one of encouraging more kids to take up and persevere with instruments is to give them access to powerful live performances in a small space. Most children are totally entranced by live music if we just give them the chance to hear it.
Each workshop will select age-appropriate excerpts from our concert programs and present the music in a workshop settings where each performer speaks about their instrument, their life as a professional musician and why they love the music so much.
Talks on Music
Last year we began a series of Talks about music that aims to explain exactly how the language of music works. Each talk begins with a complete performance of a classical work before offering a 30-40 minute lecture about aspects of music that aims to draw people into and give them a hunger to want to find out more. Each talk concludes with a second performance of the opening work, offering listeners a transformative listening experience.
There are many, many people in our community who are unable to attend our concerts due to ill health, family commitments, financial constraints, the list goes on. We believe it is essential to make our performances available to those who cannot attend. Before each concert we will be taking our performances to the Keene Senior Center and we are actively seeking out other communities where we can take our music to them. If you would like us to bring our music to your community please:
We are working hard to make sure that there are no financial or physical barriers that prevent people from experiencing our concerts
Concerts for Babies
We know what an impact music can have on the very young as parents of two pre-school boys. Our 4 year old is totally convinced that Brahms composed only 'dinosaur music' and our 6-month old enjoys nothing more than listening to his mommy practice her violin, often falling asleep after playing happily on a rug! Music speaks to them in a very special and direct way and has a transformative effect on their mood and behavior. We want to share this experience with other parents of young children as it can be nothing short of magical. This Fall we will be launching a regular series of special concerts where babies and young children are free to enjoy the music as noisily as they like! Details coming soon...
- Cost. Weekly private music lessons are prohibitively expensive for most parents and if there are fewer children learning there are by extension less teachers living locally available to teach them. We would like to establish a Foundation where it is possible to sponsor a child's musical education. We would like to provide the funds to hire an instrument and help with the cost of tuition. In many cases, instrumental lessons are delivered in groups due to cost and there is a limit to what can be achieved in those circumstances. We want to position our organization to support and help the many incredibly talented and dedicated music teachers we already have living here.
- Dedication. Learning an instrument requires daily, disciplined and dedicated practice. There is no other subject or activity in school that places such a huge burden of responsibility on the very young to practice daily in exactly the right way. If you pursue sport at school, practice is a term that refers to organized, supervised training. Ashuelot Concerts wants to establish a similar mentorship program for young musicians where we can offer support to parents and students in their daily practice. We want to share with them the benefit that children from musical households receive from parents who play instruments. We want to establish a center where children can come after school and get help making progress every day. Where they can hear how we rehearse, where we can have teams of helpers ready with words of encouragement and practical tips to help them constantly progress. If kids make progress it becomes inevitable that they will succeed.