Music and Much More in Our Museum

By Barry Kempton

Over the past few days, it has dawned on me that we are nearing the end of our season. On Thursday of last week we had both our last lunchtime Courtroom Concert and our final Live at the Museum event. Yesterday was the last of the regular Music in the Park Series performances and tonight is Accordo’s final concert for 13-14. It’s a time for reflecting on what has worked well and I propose to air some thoughts over the coming weeks.

I’ll start with our Live at the Museum series since this is a relatively new series, though The Schubert Club has of course presented a variety of performances in the Museum here in Landmark Center since the Museum first opened in 1980. We had seven evenings over the course of this season – mostly in our own Museum Recital Room but occasionally in the larger third floor Courtroom. Featured musicians this year have been Ora Itkin, Karen Kim, Tom Rosenberg, Scott Winters, Skip James, Vern Sutton, Michael Sutton, Maria Jette, Don Livingston, Henry Lebedinsky and Stephanie Wendt. That’s an impressive line-up of some of our community’s many interesting musicians.

Stephanie’s program last Thursday evening serves, I think, as a good example of what we are trying to achieve with the series. She played and talked about music by three Swedish composers. None of them are composers of major renown. Some of us knew music by one or maybe two of them, but you’d have to be a serious Swedish music fanatic to know music by all three – Johan Helmich Roman, Carl Jonas Love Almqvist and Wilhelm Peterson-Berger. Stephanie played music of these three musicians – beautifully I might add. She also shared some biographical commentary about each – these were colorful characters indeed, particularly Mr Almqvist. But what made it special for me (and I think for the rest of our audience) were the personal touches she brought: stories and insights from her recent time living in Sweden and a selection of her own photographs from Sweden which were projected concurrently with the music. It was her personality and humor alongside the music in an intimate setting (50 is a sell-out crowd for this series) which made the evening memorable.

The performers in the other Live at the Museum evenings lit up their music too with their own stories and interests. Without meaning to single out one performance over others, Vern Sutton’s excitement about bringing composer letters from our manuscript collection and Ora Itkin’s passion for Goya’s paintings are also memorable.

We’re in the final stages of putting together next season’s Live at the Museum series. There will be four programs and I hope each will continue to bring together excellent music making, interesting connections with our Museum exhibits and insights into the personalities of the performers themselves.