The Hippo


Nov 21, 2019








Southern New Hampshire residents get a chance to hear what all the fuss is about during a New Hampshire Music Festival string quartet concert this Friday, July 18. Courtesy photo.

New Hampshire Music Festival’s 603 Series Concord concert

Where: Concord Community Music School, 23 Wall St., Concord
When: Friday, July 18, at 8 p.m.
Admission: $20

Passionate players
Traveling from afar for the New Hampshire Music Festival

By Kelly Sennott

 The Montblanc String Quartet doesn’t get a great deal of rehearsal time — the four musicians live on opposite ends of the country.

Yet Julie Fox Henson (violin), Kathy Langer (violin), Bernard DiGregorio (viola) and Andrea DiGregorio (cello) still perform together every summer, and have ever since they met at the New Hampshire Music Festival 27 years ago. When it works, it works.
“The DiGregorios [who are married] come from West Virginia. Kathy is from Utah and Julie from Iowa. They play together only in New Hampshire every year for six weeks,” said Brad Dumont, NHMF operations manager, in a phone interview. “Something about them being away from one another the other 46 weeks of the year makes it more exciting.”
It’s not unheard of, chamber musicians from across the country performing together, but it’s a unique thing, Dumont said, for a quartet to brave the distances 27 years straight. Every time they play together, it’s in New Hampshire.
“Here in New Hampshire is the only time you’ll hear that come together,” Dumont said. “I think a lot of quartets find residencies together in the same cities and then build up. It’s interesting, that this group of musicians has maintained their kind of cohort for such a long period.”
The Montblanc String Quartet performs as part of the 62nd New Hampshire Music Festival’s 603 Music Series Friday, July 18, at 8 p.m., at the Concord Community Music School. 
The music, chosen by the musicians, follows this year’s theme, “The Romantic Spirit.” It’s comprised of Mozart’s “Divertimento” in D Major, KV 136; Turina’s “La oración del torero” and Mendelssohn’s String Quartet in D Major, Op. 44, No. 1.
The concert is sponsored by the Lincoln Financial Foundation and meant to be a teaser for the NHMF concerts in Plymouth, which began July 8 and continue through Aug. 14.
Every year, more than 80 musicians travel to Plymouth, sometimes from across the country, to perform in the festival. All of these musicians perform in weekly orchestra concerts, and scattered between are smaller chamber events, whose musical groups are comprised of orchestral members.
“It’s huge. This is an orchestral organization that has been around for 62 years. It was born in the Lakes Region, and it’s become absolutely critical to the culture of the community. More than 5,000 people look forward to the New Hampshire Music Festival every summer,” said Deborah Leonard Kosits, the new NHMF executive director. “We’re having events in Waterville Valley, in Concord, in Meredith, Plymouth. … We have an audience who travels from all over the country, people who live here and who have second homes here.”
Full orchestral performances occur Thursdays and Saturdays, and chamber performances are on Tuesday nights. Each week has a theme; Week 1 was “The German Romantic;” Week 2, “A Musical Cornucopia;” Week 3, “Composer Portrait: Nathaniel Stookey;” Week 4, “The Russian Soul;” Week 5, “Verdi’s Requiem;” and Week 6, “Latin Love.”
It is, needless to say, no small feat, organizing the six-week series of events every year, particularly one that’s been going through major changes as of late; Donato Cabrera is in just his second year as NHMF music director, taking experience from working as the resident conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, music director of the Las Vegas Philharmonic Orchestra and California Symphony. 
Every year, audiences want to see something new, different and exciting, which means collaboration behind the scenes and creativity in developing new programming. (This year, for example, there’s a family-friendly concert July 24 in Plymouth, called “The Composer is Dead.” It contains a murder mystery theme.)
Putting it all together requires passion.
“We have to be inspired to play the music with passion, and then audiences, no matter where they are, will love it,” Cabrera said. 
As seen in the July 17, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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