May 2019 Newsletter

Welcome to our May newsletter!

Our 2018-19 season comes to a close with “By Special Arrangement…”

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May 18th, 2019- 8:00pm
Harvard-Epworth Methodist Church, Cambridge

May 19th, 2019-3:30pm
First Parish in Lexington, Lexington

Throughout the ages, composers have borrowed or rehashed old ideas from previous pieces, giving them a new lease of life for a separate occasion. An arrangement of an earlier composition was also an invaluable way in which to disseminate a popular work more readily, and in turn, helped to facilitate more performances. Beethoven and Mozart each composed masterful quintets for piano and winds, presented in this program in their versions for piano and string trio.  Likewise,  the study of counterpoint of the old masters served to inspire young composers, such as Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms and Debussy, to find their footing in the art of counterpoint.  Here we include two string trios by Mozart based on original subjects composed by J.S. Bach, a fitting and circular end to our 2018-19 series! 

Maggie Cole, fortepiano; Susanna Ogata, violin; Jenny Stirling, viola; Timothy Merton, cello

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of our newest CD, Boccherini: Stabat Mater. We’ll be selling copies at both concerts, or you can buy it online HERE

An interview with Maggie Cole

In honor of Maggie Cole joining us in a few weeks, we thought we would sit down and ask her a few questions about her time with Sarasa, her love of keyboard instruments, her world traveling, and more!

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Sarasa is celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2018-19, and you have been performing with us since the beginning! How did your relationship with Timothy Merton and Sarasa come about?

Tim was invited to come over to England to participate in a Cornish festival that a bunch of us played in for about 12 years. He was a close friend already of two of our key players, Dick Earle and Alison Bury, became close to our festival director and dear friend Richard Campbell and instantly became part of the scene which was one of serious music-making mixed with all sorts of fun-- like throwing ourselves in the freezing sea at 7AM. When Tim formed Sarasa, it was natural somehow that many of us involved in the Cornish festival - myself, Dick, Ally and Richard would cross the ocean to participate in Sarasa concerts. Our friendship has grown through so many shared experiences. I can't really remember not knowing Tim!

What are some of the highlights you have enjoyed with Sarasa over the years? 

There are so many. What immediately comes to mind is being invited to the 92nd St Y in New York to play in their 9/11 memorial concert. We performed 'Ich habe genug' with our much loved colleague and friend, Sandford Sylvan - a musical memory that I cherish and a sense of being able to give when it was needed. 
I have many very powerful memories of outreach with Sarasa. Witnessing a young man's free rap on the subject of his mother and what she had given him. Responding to a young woman's overwhelming desire to come up and dance for us all to unaccompanied Bach on the violin. Whatever happens in each session, whether the energy is high or low, there is always a sense of connection brought about by simply all of us, the Sarasa members and the youth, sharing what we do.

And finally, I have to mention a favourite Sarasa moment - performing  the Popper "Requiem" on 3 baroque cellos and electric piano. Although this seemed a kind of funny thing to do, the result was beautiful and proof, to me at least, that our instruments are truly just vehicles for intention. I play a lot of different modern pianos these days, many of which are truly terrible, so it's good to have this reminder.

What is it that makes Sarasa special to you, and entices you to travel from London every time you perform with us?

Friendship, wonderful musicianship, varied programs that take us into lots of new musical territory, laughter, the chance to be back home in the States and be with family.

The Beethoven and Mozart piano quartets you’re performing on this upcoming concert are both transcriptions from their popular piano quintets with winds.  How do you approach the inherent differences when playing with strings as opposed to woodwinds and horn?

I don’t know…yet!! 

How does it feel to play the various keyboard instruments: harpsichord, fortepiano and grand piano?  Is there one that truly feels like “home” to you?  

The simple answer is that it feels like a constant challenge. The three techniques are so different and there are times when I question my decision to return to the modern piano after the many years of focusing entirely on the harpsichord and fortepiano. These two already ask for distinct approaches but they share a lightness of touch and and immediacy of sound production. When I'm in a phase of learning new pieces on modern piano, it's better if I have little or no performing to do on the early keyboards. There is the danger, or so it feels, that I'll end up sacrificing my early keyboard technique for the bigger instrument that requires so much muscle and will power! I am definitely most at home on harpsichord and fortepiano and probably have more moments of that ephemeral freedom that we're always chasing, when playing the fortepiano. However, I love the huge range of repertoire that I get to play through doing the three instruments so I'm going to keep taking up the challenge!

What pieces would you include on a dream program you would like to perform? 

This is hard - again there are way too many. Just thinking of pieces I have already played, I would want any of the Bach Partitas, Brandenburg 5, almost any Haydn trio, Beethoven's Archduke trio, any of the Beethoven cello sonatas, Schubert's "Winterreise" and finally (but really I could go on endlessly) a piece by Henri Dutilleux called "Les Citations". But I've left out songs by Irving Berlin and Gershwin, Faure and Debussy..... This is impossible!

How do you spend your free time?  

Walking, reading, swimming, having riotous times with our grand-god children, trying to create peace and productivity in my community garden and practicing life-enhancing Qi Gong. Travel with my husband Richard, which sometimes can include camping (discovered, for me at a very late age) is a big passion.

We understand you are a fabulous cook!  What is your favourite dish to prepare?

Eek - that's a very big compliment. I love to cook and yet I don't really do "serious" cooking except when we have guests over. What I love on a day to day basis, is improvising with whatever is around.  I'm very influenced by living in a pan-Arabic neighbourhood where I can walk to the corner and find date syrup, barberries, fantastic rice, nuts of every sort, huge bunches of herbs etc. But I'm also crazy about making my versions of Spanish and South Amercian dishes - variations on themes I guess I would say.

You have travelled to so many countries— is there a culture or place that stands out as one of your favourites and why?

There is a nomadic bit of me that usually feels like I'm living in a place after about 4 days. I feel attached to many countries that I've visited. Having said that, I have a strange deep affinity for Slovenia and find myself pulled back there with real yearning. It's a little country that is so aware of Nature and is doing well at protecting it. I feel very at home in Spain with all of its contradictions and a certain harshness that I'm drawn to.
The USA - my home even though I've lived abroad for so long. I still feel deeply connected to landscape, smells, the way the seasons present themselves in New England and even in these shocking times, the American open-heartedness and optimism mixed with a very particular sense of humor that I relax into when I'm there.

Drumroll Please… Our 2019-20 Season is officially announced!!!

We are delighted to present our next concert series to you. Subscriptions will be going on sale starting May 18th, so if you are interested in reserving your seats early, you can purchase in person at our concerts on May 18th and 19th! Forms will be available for registering. Also, purchase a subscription before June 1st and receive a special 10% early bird discount! Details coming soon. Single tickets will also go on sale starting August 1st.

Be sure to click the right arrow to read more details on all of our concerts

Lastly: Welcome to Spring! Enjoy some beautiful springtime flowers to get you in a colorful mood for our next concert!