Amateur Musicians Work With Pros at Play Weekend

Two concerts feature coaches and workshop participants

By Christine Simek

Play Weekend Hudson Valley is an amateur chamber music workshop that will take place in and around Cold Spring next weekend, Friday, Sept. 7 to Sunday, Sept. 10. This first-ever Play Weekend Hudson Valley will offer two public concerts at Our Lady of Restoration Chapel on Market Street as a part of their schedule of events.

Founded 25 years ago in Princeton, N.J., Play Weeks and Play Weekends provide adult musicians the opportunity to expand their musical horizons with concentrated ensemble playing and personal, intimate coaching from members of a renowned faculty.

Rachel Evans, right, and Arlene Metrick rehearse for the upcoming Play Weekend Hudson Valley. (Photo courtesy of Rachel Evans)

This weekend features co-directors and coaches Rachel Evans, a Juilliard graduate and Beacon/Garrison resident who has toured around the world with various ensembles; Cortlandt Manor resident and pianist Cynthia Peterson, also a Juilliard graduate and a former faculty member of CUNY and SUNY who has made appearances at the American Academy in Rome, Canada and at Yale; Play Week Director and cellist (and a founding member of Brooklyn Baroque) David Bakamjian; and guest violinist Sebu Sirinian, who performs with the American Symphony Orchestra and the Brooklyn Philharmonic.

Evans and Sirinian are also members of the Meridian String Quartet, a group that recently played a reunion concert at the Philipstown.info office at 69 Main St.

According to Evans, chamber music differs from orchestral or solo music in that, as its name implies, it is music often more suited to informal surroundings and impromptu gatherings, and the reward for the years of practice and patience required to develop the necessary skills to participate in a group experience. “Amateur musicians — as well as many professionals — gravitate to chamber music like fly-fishermen to rivers and streams. It’s where all the goodies lie!”

Continuing Evans said, “The greatest Western composers wrote some of their most intimate music for their patrons to play informally at home. For amateur players coming to an event like Play Weekend Hudson Valley, they have an intense chamber music experience, offering them an opportunity to continue to develop skills and discover insights that ideally bring perception and inspiration to a deeper level.”

Historically, music has been about community-making, and Western chamber music is a formalized version of that idea. People gather to listen and play, to learn from one another and, as Evans’ student Arlene Metrick said, “to be in the joy of total immersion in a musical experience with other people who love it.” Play Weekend Hudson Valley was conceived on these very ideas: to offer local amateurs a chance to meet other amateurs and to provide players with an opportunity to gather and make music together in a beautiful setting like Cold Spring.

Before sessions begin for Play Week participants, students fill out questionnaires, and faculty members assign each musician to a trio or quartet based on their skills and experience. Each musician is assigned a piece of music and is scheduled for personal coaching sessions with each of the coaches.

Peterson says that Play Weeks and Weekends are wonderful occasions for professional and amateur musicians to work and learn together. “It is pure joy for all of the musicians involved to be together,” she said. “We are all still learning, and we support and encourage one another. That support is a really special thing.”

A faculty concert will be held on Saturday, Sept. 8 at 8 p.m. at the Chapel Restoration in Cold Spring and will feature Bach’s accompanied Violin Sonata in C minor, Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio in D minor, Beethoven’s Serenade Op. 8 for String Trio, and a Dvorak Bagatelle for piano quartet. The workshop-participant concert will be held on Sunday afternoon at 1:45 pm, also at the chapel, and will include Vivaldi, Mozart, Zemlinsky, Albrechtsburger, Ravel and Dvorak. Both events are free and open to the public.


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