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Newtown Friends Of Music Continues Preparing For Its 33rd Season



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Newtown Friends Of Music

Continues Preparing For Its 33rd Season

Preparations for the 2010-11 season of concerts sponsored by Newtown Friends of Music got underway while there was still snow on the ground last winter. Hard to believe during the recent heat wave, but that is how early busy musicians need to be lined up in order to pay a visit to Newtown this fall and next spring. Careful consideration has to be paid to holidays and school vacations, and to various other important events in the calendar of Edmond Town Hall. 

Since there are a great number of talented musicians, well recognized young, and graduates from the various music schools around the country and overseas, members of the NFoM Program Committee like listen to ensembles in person before talking to them about an engagement in Newtown. That is how the 33-year tradition of “exquisite music – superbly performed” has stood the test of time.

Newtown Friends of Music has garnered a reputation for superior artist and program selection. Reviews have been overwhelmingly positive by concert audiences and music critics alike. However, this also puts considerable burden on the organizers to continue to select only the best artists they can inveigle to come to the stage of Edmond Town Hall.

Live “On Stage in Newtown,” the motto of this year’s Labor Day Parade, happens to also be the leitmotif of the Newtown Friends of Music organization. Radio broadcasts, CDs, MP3s, YouTubes, etc, may all be very well, but there is simply nothing more electrifying and gratifying than attending a live music concert and watching musicians interact with one another, interpret the music in their own particular style, and finding satisfaction of just having undergone an unbelievably moving experience that makes the hairs on the back of one’s neck, or even on one’s arms, stand up.

Ticket prices are intentionally being kept low so that all who love classical music are able to attend. On occasion, NFoM will have a special fundraiser concert or apply for a grant from an organization that promotes the arts in Connecticut.

While carefully perusing the annual report and financial data of the organization, directors also mull over the possibility of bringing artists to Newtown schools, in what is called the NFM School Outreach Program and are deliberating whether or not to offer a small scholarship to a senior who wishes to study music at the college level. 

With the help and cooperation of Michelle Hiscavich, music teacher and director of the music department in Newtown Public Schools, these School Outreach Programs are arranged on a rotating basis, so that all grades in all schools have the opportunity to interact and learn from world class artists. As always, Newtown school children are invited to attend the Sunday afternoon concerts free of charge. The School Outreach Program itself is of no cost whatsoever to the school system or to the Newtown tax payer.  NFM absorbs all the costs associated with this worthwhile endeavor.

A recent addition to the public concerts is an effort to include volunteer music students to perform for about 20 to 30 minutes in the lobby of Edmond Town Hall. Last year’s debut quartet was enjoyed by many and much appreciated by the waiting public.

The Schedule

Concerts are presented on Sunday afternoons at 3, as always, children are invited to attend for free, with a ticket holding adult.

In an effort to continue the high level of musical presentations and endeavoring to provide a mixture of artists and a variety of music, the NFoM Program Committee has engaged the following artists for the 2010-11 performance season:

The American String Quartet will open the season on September 19 with a program of “Ars Longa, Vita Brevis” (roughly translated as “we won’t live long enough to get to perform all the beautiful music that has been written”). Currently they are celebrating their 35th year of playing together and are considered the premiere string quartet in the United States.

On October 17, for a change in pace, a younger group consisting of the Escher String Quartet plus the well-known classical guitarist Jason Vieaux will perform music by Haydn, Bach, Boccherini, Vivaldi and Piazolla.

Then, on November 21, prize-winning young pianist Vanessa Perez will take her seat at the venerable Knabe concert grand on Edmond Town Hall’s stage, gifted to the town by Elizabeth Hawley, and will showcase her nimble fingers, her deep understanding of the emotional impact of the music, and her graceful comportment, in a piano recital of music by Brahms, Albeniz and Chopin.

Newtown Friends of Music usually leaves the months of December and January to others, who will dance, carol and chorister for the holiday season.

On February 13,  just in time for a festive St Valentine’s Day celebration, a return engagement by Walden Chamber Players will bring a Beethoven serenade and Schubert’s beloved Trout Quintet as well as a little more rarely heard Schubert piece of music. If the school calendar allows, the Walden Chamber Players will present a school outreach program in the Newtown schools on the Monday morning following the concert.

On March 20, another return engagement by a well received younger group of musicians, The Hugo Wolf Quartett from Vienna, will recapture the magic they wove the last time they appeared in Newtown to unrestrained applause. The program has not yet been announced but hopes run to Dvorak and Hugo Wolf.

And, finally, for the concluding concert of the season, NFoM will present The Antares Ensemble, together with the soprano Sarah Wolfson, on April 10, in a program of works for clarinet, piano and strings. There are hopes to also have these musicians remain in town for the following day, to offer a School Outreach Program at Newtown High School.  Ms Wolfson will sing two short numbers accompanied by the clarinet and piano.  Also on the program is the music of Schumann and Brahms. Season tickets are an especially good bargain value and are available by writing for a free brochure to Newtown Friends of Music at PO Box 295, Newtown CT 06470-0295, or by printing out an order form from their website (NewtownFriendsOfMusic.org. Additional information is also available from NFoM President Ellen K. Parrella, who can be reached by calling 203-426-6470.

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