To tone down my over-the-top enthusiasm for the concert on June 19th by the group we dubbed the "Silver Jubilee Chamber Ensemble," I waited a week to post this assessment. As a result there will be less gushing, but the people I spoke with who were there were equally smitten, so I still must say: This was our best concert ever! EVER!
If you read some previous posts you know I have a bad habit of proclaiming that each concert in succession is the best, ever. This speaks well of the quality of the performers who make the trek up to the hills for us, and after all it's a bit of comparing apples to oranges, or in our case Mozart to Barber, or Bach to Chopin. Folks who listen to classical music on a regular basis no doubt have their favorites as well as composers whose works they never listen to by choice, and how we react to a particular concert (based on our choice to attend it in the first place) has as much to do with the program as with the artists who perform it. Each performance, exhilirating and fresh in the memory seems impossible to surpass.
That said, it may not be possible for us to top this last one, not the least reason being we won't have the budget to engage such a large group again, at least not until another big anniversary milestone. By then this particular group will be too far-flung in their careers to journey back here. It was a very auspicious confluence of events: extremely talented and dynamic musicians, a varied and approachable program that resonated beautifully with the setting and with the audience, and an especially gorgeous day.
The tent was set up by the Morris Tent Co. on the lawn at the
Cyr Center during the week before the concert.
Though we'd hoped for a much larger audience, I'm happy to say there were new faces at the concert, including some folks who had never heard a live performance of classical music before. What a fabulous initiation; they were "blown away" and will no doubt come back for more. Gone were the "stuffy and boring" adjectives they had previously associated with this type of music.
Before the performance began I heard a woman remark, incredulously, as she read our flyer about the anniversary celebration, "They've been doing this for twenty-five years?! They should advertise more!" It's a sentiment we often hear. Two years ago we decided to try a print ad campaign. Money is tight of course and we were loathe to spend it when there was no assurance of any benefit. We polled the audiences to find out why people had come to each concert, and found ads in the local newspapers were the only ones sighted and cited, and then mostly as a reminder to those who already knew of the series. We truly can't afford radio or television ads so we still rely predominantly on word of mouth. The music is - and should be - our priority, yet after a quarter century Friends of Music of Stamford NY still has not entered the awareness of many in the area.
On Sunday June 19th one gentleman came all the way from Hudson for the performance; that's more than an hour's drive from Stamford. He'd heard about the event from a friend and had understood the high-level quality of the artists who would perform. He and another unknown visitor each commented that to attend such a concert where they lived, they would have to pay $100.00 or more, and were astonished that such an event could be offered free of charge (thanks to the generosity of our foundation donors).
Trumpeter Sycil Mathai, left, listens to comments from some new
fans inside the Cyr Center after the performance.
Attending the concert in Stamford, in this case, was free. Many chose to donate funds, and we are grateful, especially as the O'Connor Foundation grant will match those donations. If you would like the details of how I came up with these numbers, feel free to contact me. In my estimation the range of costs for most folks who attended on Sunday, including transportation, was from $5 to as much as $50 if they chose to go out for a meal and drinks at a restaurant afterwards.
A single ticket to the Mostly Mozart Festival costs $35, which is pretty reasonable by New York City standards. O.K., I understand we did not have a full orchestra or Joshua Bell performing on June 19th, but I'd be willing to bet Jesse Mills is every bit as talented and as charismatic as Mr. Bell is (no offense intended to either of them at the comparison). And several of the artists in the Silver Jubilee Chamber Ensemble will be in that orchestra. Figuring for transportation and meals but not counting time, I estimated a total cost, best-case scenario, of $128 if you take the bus and bring your own food and stay with friends or family to $500 and up depending on your choice of restaurants and a hotel.
Thanks to the Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation, and in this instance also thanks to the O'Connor Foundation, we have the chance to hear equally high-quality musical performance at the Cyr Center for very little money, or free of charge for those who truly can't spare the $5 or $10 (and there are quite a few in our region for whom $5 is unaffordable, sad to say). How fortunate we are to live in a place where some folks who did well for themselves felt the generous inclination to share their fortunes with their community, to help improve the quality of life for all of their neighbors and not just for their own families. And how fortunate we are that fate brought these gifted young musicians to our stage on the lawn of the former Rexmere Hotel on a perfectly beautiful day in June, 2011.