Ashuelot Concerts was created to enrich our community by making world-class, live music available to all. Music heals; it challenges; it stretches our brains and it touches even those who are least expecting it. It brings people together in a unifying and uplifting shared experience.
Ashuelot Concerts believes classical music can make a real difference to people's lives. We are setting out to remove the barriers that prevent people engaging with this incredible music: In 2018, in the US, classical music made up only 1% of all the music bought, downloaded or streamed. It is up to the concert-artists and music-lovers alike to work together to change this situation. Classical music has so much to offer future generations and cannot be allowed to be marginalized further.
Over the last two years, we have succeeded in attracting a wonderfully devoted and enthusiastic audience. Now the real work begins. We want to grow our 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 leaves a positive, uplifting and enriching first impression.
Each of our performances is introduced from the concert stage so the audience gets to know the background of each piece. We choose the music carefully so that each program is balanced, emotive and inspiring. After the performance the musicians are always available to talk with the audience over refreshments.
We want to be as approachable and inviting as possible, encouraging audience members to come back time and time again.
While we are passionate about the power of the music we play, we also realize it was written for another time and in many cases for an audience who knew a great deal about music. Classical music is complicated, but incredible. It is almost impossible to capture the essence of this music from a recording. It is something that must be experienced live and familiarization with the language makes a huge difference to the impact the music can have. We want to share our love of this music with the wider community and make it so enticing that everyone will feel welcome at our events.
We are working hard to make sure that there are no financial or physical barriers that prevent people from experiencing our concerts
Our plans do not stop there. We have further ambitions and longer-term dreams, especially for our schools program. We see two main barriers to musical achievement in this community:
- 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 very young children to practice daily, on their own, 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.
Music is an essential part of a good education, it is at the very core of how we communicate. Every language is built on the musical ingredients of pitch, tempo, rhythm, articulation, tone: The music inherent in our speech has a much greater effect on how people respond to our behavior than the actual words we use. We know this from countless studies. We know that music leaves a unique, deeply profound and lasting impact on our brains, so much so that it is increasingly used as a therapeutic tool for severely ill patients in varying degrees of unconsciousness. We know that music is one of the last ways of communicating to patients with degenerative brain conditions such as Alzheimer's and Dementia. We also know that engaging with music has a hugely positive impact on the human brain. In an educational environment almost every metric improves with the serious study of an instrument. Children exposed to a musical education have shown improved IQs, concentration, working memory, fine motor control, empathy, academic performance, the list goes on.
Here in Keene we are incredibly fortunate to have easy access to some of the best Summer Music Festivals in the world, but just what proportion of our community is currently engaged with classical music? What proportion of our children learn music throughout the school careers? We know that there are significant barriers that prevent the vast majority of our community from accessing and engaging with classical music. Ashuelot Concerts has been conceived to remove those barriers, working step-by-step so that the good that music brings can be fully felt by every member of this incredible community.