Ashuelot Concerts promotes live, classical music as a powerful force that inspires positive change. Using concerts, school performances, talks & outreach, Ashuelot Concerts seeks to grow the audience for classical music while inspiring learning, achievement and well-being in our local community.
Ashuelot Concerts exists to bring some of the world's leading chamber musicians and ensembles to the Monadnock Region to perform for the community and inspire the next generation. In our short history, Ashuelot Concerts has presented dozens of chamber music concerts in the Monadnock Region and beyond, performed for thousands of school children in dozens of local schools and visited many local retirement communities with lecture series. We have even performed for babies and their parents in the first few months of life! We are continually amazed by the profound effect that live classical chamber music has on people in every walk of life, at every stage of life, irrespective of that person’s age, background, beliefs or previous experience. This music has special power when it is experienced live; it has settled fretful babies, silenced a noisy Gym packed with 350 energetic elementary school children, moved young men in high school to tears and piqued curiosity even amongst the most wise and experienced in our retirement communities.
Despite all of this, in 2022 classical music made up only 1% of all the music bought, downloaded or streamed in the US and it is easy to imagine why. Live classical music of the highest calibre is usually reserved for a very small group of people who are within easy reach of major metropolitan cultural centers. There are vast swaths of the United States where the local population are too far away to hear this incredible music live. In addition, this music is almost impossible to fully capture in a recording, it is a phenomenon that needs to be experienced live, up-close in intimate spaces with excellent acoustics such as our three wonderful, local venues. Only then can you feel the magical vibrations that are created from famous instruments by Stradivari, Amati, Gagliano, Vuillaume or Steinway. When a live performance is taking place, the vibrations of the instruments are mirrored by the movement of our ear drums, we literally become one with the music and share a unique experience together. As the music industry moves ever further into digital formats using wireless audio equipment, indeed as the wider culture embraces algorithms and AI, we are proud to present a unique cultural treasure that can only be experiences fully offline. There is nothing synthetic about the music we present in our program. The instruments are the finest in the world, the performers operate at the top of their profession and abilities, the concert halls are as acoustically attractive as we can find and the music is selected to be as pleasurable for the audience as possible. Ashuelot Concerts' program is designed to be real, no electronic enhancements or microphones, no synthetic ingredients at all, just physical vibrations that have the power to move the human spirit very deeply and transport us closer to some kind of truth.
One of the joys (and challenges) of being a professional concert performer is that you never stop learning. You are constantly reminded of your own shortcomings and how much more there is to learn about the process of learning itself. Each new piece is like starting anew on your chosen instrument. There are many, many days when the task of preparing for a concert feels impossible, and yet the practice and rehearsal process somehow soon turns the impossible into something joyful and rewarding.
Musicians have valuable insights into how to learn and we are honored to be joined this year by so many internationally renowned chamber musicians who are enthusiastic about sharing their experiences with local school children.
If we can leave children both amazed by the music and inspired to try that little bit harder in class today, then we have a chance of truly living up to our mission of promoting live classical music as a powerful force for good in this community.
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 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.