Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music

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Apple Hill 2014 Playing for Peace Tour

December 17th, 2014 by Apple Hill

Lindsay DearbornBy Lindsay Dearborn, Apple Hill Board of Trustees For five years I've listened attentively as Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music Executive Director, Lenny Matczynski, welcomes audiences to the weekly faculty concert series during Apple Hill's Summer Chamber Music Workshop. He feels strongly about Apple Hill's mission and the Playing for Peace program, and he's passionate about how special he feels Apple Hill is: He says it’s about connection, and love, and that what Apple Hill does is magic, really. Never having been a participant at one of Apple Hill’s summer chamber music sessions, I've taken his word for it. Oh, I've felt the energy on the campus as it comes alive in summer with music and the excited faces of players from 12-90 years old making music together. I've been aware that something is going on, just not what exactly. But recently I had the extraordinary opportunity of traveling with the Apple Hill String Quartet on their 2014 Playing for Peace tour to Turkey, Cyprus, Jerusalem, and Jordan. Elise Kuder and Colleen Jennings on violin, Mike Kelly on viola, and Rupert Thompson, cello, make up Apple Hill's resident quartet. They worked giving master classes, workshops and concerts, and I played tourist. I wasn’t totally idle, however. I made it my business to observe most everything, and listen, and talk to the Quartet, master class participants, and the musicians who hosted us, who have been participants at Apple Hill in the past. So is Apple Hill as special as Lenny says it is?? Do the summer participants I met in Turkey, Cyprus, Jerusalem, and Jordan feel as strongly about Apple Hill as its supporters do?? If it's possible, they seem to feel more strongly.
“Apple Hill has played and continues to play such an important part in my life, as a professional musician, as a teacher, as a human being.” -Beste Tiknaz Modiri, Apple Hill summer participant, professor at Istanbul University Conservatory, and violist with the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra “I definitely know that my life as a musician and as a teacher would have been very different if I had not been involved with Apple Hill.” -Reem Abu Rahmeh, Apple Hill participant and student at Keene State, teacher and music department head at King's Academy in Amman, Jordan “I’ve made life-long friendships with people from all over the world…how is that possible in two weeks?” -Sinem Sadrazam, Apple Hill participant and viola faculty at Eastern Mediterranean University in Cyprus “Everything about Apple Hill that influenced my life now influences this school where I am." -Lena Nemirovsky-Wiskind, Apple Hill participant and piano faculty, director of the Jerusalem Conservatory Hassadna
elise on tourTEACHING MAKES A DIFFERENCE. With master classes and workshops scheduled, teaching is obviously a big part of what the Quartet does on a Playing for Peace tour.  From Turkey to Jordan, the Quartet worked with students at the Avni Akyol Fine Arts School, Istanbul University Conservatory, and the Music For Peace Music School in Istanbul; Eastern Mediterranean University in North Cyprus and The English School in South Cyprus; the Jerusalem Conservatory Hassadna in Jerusalem; and King’s Academy in Amman, Jordan. Again and again, our hosts stressed that teaching and learning are different at Apple Hill. For one, “Apple Hill is radically different from any other teaching situation.” Another remembers Lenny’s first talk: “’Whoever you are, you’re accepted.’ Unlike in the rest of the world, at Apple Hill they love you.” A third speaks to “the nurturing and positive environment that allows musicians to grow and flourish.” Without exception, everyone pointed to the genuinely supportive environment, which seems to be very different from what they’ve experienced elsewhere. “The encouragement, the warmth, hearing that I’m able. I remember my first concert there and everyone screamed and clapped…for me!!!  I didn’t grow up in this kind of environment…it was very competitive, very authoritarian, so different.” tour rupertMISSION MAKES A DIFFERENCE. Music is powerful stuff.  I think that sentiment is almost cliché at this point. To our hosts in Jordan and Israel, however, it’s very real. “At Apple Hill, there’s the belief that every musician has a voice that needs to be heard, a belief that to be expressive beyond the surface of the music will transcend differences and barriers, and build friendships, and lead to the creation of community based on listening to each other.” Apple Hill’s Playing for Peace program speaks to hearts and minds. It succeeds in creating space for participants, many from different cultures and backgrounds, to grow and feel and become while in each other’s company. “One of the things that stands out for me about Apple Hill is being able to make music with people from all over the world, and sometimes ‘our enemies’. This was my first face-to-face encounter with Egyptians, Syrians…. and others. I made a really good friend from Syria, but we both knew we couldn’t go back and be friends. Maybe Apple Hill can’t change personal political views or the overall political situation, but it can change our views of others and of ourselves as people, as human beings.” quartet with Beste and LacinEXCELLENCE MAKES A DIFFERENCE. Anyone who has attended an Apple Hill String Quartet concert knows that Elise, Colleen, Mike, and Rupert are wonderfully talented, skilled, and expressive musicians. Recruitment of coaching faculty for summer sessions requires the same level of excellence so that every participant, no matter their level, works with top flight musicians. This level of playing and musicianship is not lost on our hosts, who performed alongside the Quartet at the final concert in their respective countries. “It’s such a privilege to play with musicians of their caliber.” “They are constantly working to improve themselves and what they do.” “It's just so exciting and such an honor to be able to play with them. They're all so wonderful, such great musicians, and so supportive.” QuartetAND SO THE MUSIC PLAYS ON. Organizations want their work to have an impact, to make a difference, to reach across borders – real and imagined - and influence more and more people. Not surprisingly, so do donors. “Are we succeeding in what we set out to do? Does what we do stop here or does it keep moving even beyond our reach? IS THERE THE DESIRED RIPPLE EFFECT??” The Apple Hill Board of Trustees worries about these kinds of things and talks about them as a way of measuring return on investment. I don’t think they have to worry. I have seen with my own eyes the magic that is Apple Hill and how participants go home and model what they’ve experienced. Apple Hill has changed their lives, and they’re determined to pass it along. “I’m trying to bring what I learned at Apple Hill and Keene State – in teaching and management – to my work at the conservatory.” “Artistically, I’m trying to model my teaching after Apple Hill. I think that what I feel there I could help my students feel here.” “I want to create the Apple Hill atmosphere here. I want to give students this same sense. And now we’ve sent 20 students there and they are wanting to do the same. I feel very responsible for picking out who we send because I know it will change their life.” “The Quartet empowers people wherever they go, and they’re constantly looking for ways to give opportunity and access to people and to young musicians.” “What I learned at Apple Hill is a major part of the approach I have taken with the students here. I feel responsible for helping my students experience that as early as possible, and I notice this has expanded to the rest of the music work that I do within the larger music community here, beyond the school.” I can think of no greater testimony to all the talented and dedicated people at Apple Hill, and all their hard work. Come to the Apple Hill Summer Chamber Music Workshop and see for yourself.

Posted in Board of Trustees, Education & Outreach, Middle East Tour, Tours | Comments (0)

Looking Back

December 17th, 2014 by Apple Hill

Liz at her deskLiz Brown is leaving Apple Hill after two years as the Development Coordinator. December snow covers the labyrinth here at Apple Hill, creating soft new paths over the memory of clipped grasses and wildflower walls.  This is the time for reflection  on my two years here at Apple Hill as development coordinator, which is coming to a close today. These two years saw the refinement of the relationship between Apple Hill and its donors – a time of opening new channels for outreach as we used new tools for online giving (funding our first CD, funding the construction of new cabins, and boosting online donations to our annual appeal).  Our friends enthusiastically supported these campaigns, which attracted new donors in significant ratios. The interconnection between marketing and development was strengthened with the addition of Board leadership committed to the discipline of clarity and a strategic focus that recognizes the synergy and cost effectiveness created when these two disciplines work together and communicate consistently. We added analytical tools that will continue to help Apple Hill manage relationships with donors, informing us of what matters to them, what moved them to give, and how we can make it easier to communicate relevant information to donors in cost-effective ways. We initiated new ways to honor our major donors with a summer evening pre-concert reception and we continued to explore ways to thank them for their support of our mission creating photo albums about the summer Apple Hill workshop experience. We continued to explore new revenue sources, like online shopping, online donations, and pledging, to address the cash flow challenges. Apple Hill is a living laboratory for the intersection of mission and passion where extraordinarily gifted musicians, talented staff, and a dedicated Board of Trustees breathe life into a vision that is so needed in our world.  Peace. Liz Brown

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Spotlight: Amelia Perron

December 17th, 2014 by Apple Hill

Amelia and violinDirector Lenny Matczynski talks with Summer Coordinator Amelia Perron. Where are you from and where did you go to school? I am from Henniker, NH, about 30 miles from Apple Hill. I grew up in the New Hampshire music scene, so to speak - I played in the Greater Manchester Youth Symphony Orchestra and local community orchestras and studied with Elliott Markow all through high school. A highlight was when I won the youth orchestra concerto competition and got to perform a Haydn Concerto with the orchestra. My mom made me a gorgeous dress for the occasion! I went to Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, and received my Bachelors of Music degree in violin, graduating summa cum laude. I had a great experience there, very transformative. I found that I missed things in NH that I hadn’t appreciated before, like the mountains, the ocean, those windy, twisty country roads. But people in the Midwest are very friendly and I loved that about living there. My senior year I studied abroad in Paris. I think those were the best months of my life thus far. Everything about the experience was thrilling – delving into the language and my ability to speak French, going to the Louvre whenever I wanted, going to the Paris Opera, and of course eating lots of pain au chocolat (chocolate pastries). When you live in another country, every ordinary thing, even buying train tickets or going to the grocery store, is an intellectual process because you’re doing it in your second language. You have to figure out how you are going to communicate. Everything I did was new. I went on some trips, my first being to Mont Saint Michel. I went by myself, no French-English dictionary or anything, and I had to fend for myself and it was great – a big accomplishment for me. When did you first hear about Apple Hill? I heard about AH in 2003 when I was 16. I had a friend who had been the past couple of summers, and he could not stop raving about AH. In his high school writing classes all his papers were about AH – his friends from all around the world, playing music in the barn, hearing stories by the campfire late into the night. It sounded like nothing I had ever heard of before. I went to a concert. They played the Brahms C minor piano quartet and I was mesmerized – I don’t think I breathed for the first half of the performance. I had never heard anything like that before. I talked to Rupert, Elise, and Mike afterwards and the following summer I went to my first session. I started working at AH right after college when I was 22.  I have been here almost the entire time since, except when I took a year and spent it in France teaching English as a second language to French teenagers. What is your position at AH? I am the Summer Coordinator. That includes recruitment, processing applications, organizing all the travel logistics for participants, answering questions about the summer, supporting the quartet when they choose music for summer participants, and overseeing the camp directors and counselor workers. Usually in the fall when I have less to do for the summer I work on the website, proofread marketing materials, and put together the newsletters including interviewing people (I am not doing this one however). The off-season is kind of like pulling the curtain in the Wizard of Oz – the summer is magical and so many people are here to make it so. The off-season is a time for planning – updating policies, making sure the finances are in order, updating everything for the website for the summer. Once I started here I became aware of all the things that need to be done behind the scenes – all the practical things that need to get done to make that magic happen in the summer. It was kind of like a growing-up moment for me, post-college, to gain that awareness of what really happens. What are some of your recruitment strategies? I think everyone wants to know about the food recruitment strategies! To a certain extent I don't do recruitment because AH speaks for itself. People choose to come here because a friend raved about it, or they heard the Quartet play, or their teacher told them this was the summer program that would take them to the next level. I feel that my job is just to remind people that we are here, now is a good time to apply, and we want to include you in our summer. But there are certain challenges to recruitment especially with international students securing their visas and travel plans. For those situations we do everything we can to get them here – I get in touch with embassies, community centers, airlines etc. But once we have done everything we can, there is only one thing left to do and that is to eat good luck potatoes! The way this all started and the way potatoes took on their magic powers is this: in 2009, my first summer in this job, we had a participant coming from Azerbaijan as part of the Playing for Peace program. About 3 days before he was scheduled to arrive, I found out he didn’t have his travel visa. I called the US embassy in Baku. I talked to one of the consulate officers, but he just wasn’t going to give this student a visa. So I asked Lenny for help and we decided that what we needed to do was call the embassy in Baku the minute they opened the next morning, which was midnight in our time zone. We wondered how we were going to stay awake until midnight and be successful once we called. We decided to make a big potato feast. We had potato soup, scalloped potatoes, oven fries, potato bread. We had the energy to make the call at midnight and Lenny and I had a good talk with the officer and after a short conversation, the student was approved for a visa. Ever since, we have eaten potatoes for good luck. What kind of playing do you do, and how do you balance playing violin with working in an office? I perform each summer in a few coached groups at AH (a great perk of the job), I play locally with Symphony NH and Keene Chorale, and I play in a chamber group with other local Apple Hillers. As for balancing work and playing, obviously the challenge is finding the time and energy to do both things well, but I definitely think they balance each other in a good way. Being able to play, since that is what I trained to do, is great for me and really meaningful. I think AH is strengthened by having musicians working in the office - we value music, musicians, and bring perspective which is valuable for any arts organization. The other side of it is that AH is a great job for a musician. I have learned a lot about music just by working here: by talking to Lenny and the quartet about music, getting suggestions about music and violin technique, and by listening to a lot of music while I’m here working. Of course, hearing concerts by the AHSQ is incredible and I am always inspired by their playing. I have also learned a ton about what goes on behind the scenes in a musical organization – how finances work, how to raise money, organize, work with volunteers – and this gives me perspective as a working musician that I think is crucial. Everyone here is extremely supportive of me as a musician – my schedule is flexible enough to accommodate my rehearsal schedule, people attend my concerts (Richard goes to a lot of Symphony NH ones), I get connected to local groups like the Keene Chorale to play with – and all that really means a lot to me. Everyone describes the summer as a community of musicians and listeners, but what is it like with just the employees here during the year? It is definitely more down to business than it is during the summer. Fewer dance parties! But it is still a community, because everyone shares a love of music, and I think everyone here is smart and interesting and has a unique personality. We always eat lunch together and have hilarious conversations which cover wide-ranging topics, bringing out everyone's unique perspective and great sense of humor. It ends up being quite entertaining.

Posted in Spotlight, Summer Workshop | Comments (1)

Tour Journal: Middle East 2014

December 17th, 2014 by Apple Hill

quartet in cyprus with george and sinem

By Colleen Jennings, violin, Apple Hill String Quartet

The Apple Hill String Quartet recently returned from a three week Playing for Peace tour to the Middle East visiting Turkey, Cyprus, Israel and Jordan. The tour had 17 events: 8 masterclasses, 2 chamber music workshops, 6 concerts, and a school assembly. We performed for approximately 3000 people and taught approximately 300 students. This was my first tour to the Middle East, and I was struck by the variety and duality of roles we play in this work. We are Teachers and Students, Performers and Listeners, Ambassadors and Guests, Role Models, Friends and Colleagues.

group photo in IstanbulAs teachers we are also students and a great thing about working in foreign cultures is that this duality is always apparent. Sometimes there is a common language, sometimes not. In this case we have translators. It’s a stimulating exercise to be aware of your words; to weigh them and choose only what is succinct and universal. No room for turns of phrases. I’m reminded how my best tool is my violin and how demonstrating is worth a thousand words. I find this also to be true when I am rehearsing with the quartet. Even when you speak the same language it is often easy to misunderstand each other. Music is much more direct. Music is universal. What a way to be reminded.

Throughout this tour I am struck by how appreciative students are to listen to us play and to perform for us. They see it as a privilege. As a performer when you have a rapt audience it becomes very apparent that the performance includes the audience. We are shaped by each other blurring the lines between performer and listener. There were so many moments like this. At Eastern Mediterranean University in Cyprus we were challenged with listening to 17 students in 90 minutes because so many people wanted to play for us. Many of them presented us with manuscripts of compositions they had written. On another occasion following our performance for the school’s assembly at King’s Academy in Jordan we received a very special email from a student who had given up trying to play the violin. Here is a quote from her email:

When I saw your performance today and I heard the wonderful music you were able to produce, I felt, for the first time, that playing an instrument, such as the violin, can be something amazing and something that can change my life. This is why I wanted to thank you. Thank you for being an inspiration and a group of people I can look up to in the future!

Quartet performingWe are ambassadors on these trips by virtue of showing up to do what we love. We are guests in foreign lands welcomed with open arms whether making new acquaintances or reuniting with old friends. Each initial arrival in a new culture is a paramount shift. We jet set around like it’s nothing and take for granted just how far we travel. I think the soul takes its time and shows up when it is ready -- once the physical has settled. That is a weird waiting period. In these moments the quartet relies on each other as colleagues and friends. We are strengthened by the cultural bonds that formed us and still reminded that human connection goes way deeper than cultural divides.

Posted in Concerts, Middle East Tour, Tours | Comments (0)

Spotlight: Chip Woodbury

October 20th, 2014 by Apple Hill

[caption id="attachment_1590" align="alignleft" width="180" caption="Chip at Mount Sunapee. Photo by Kathy Woodbury."]Chip[/caption] Chip Woodbury is the president of the Apple Hill Board of Trustees. He has been on the Board for seven years. Today, he talks with Summer Coordinator Amelia Perron about building cabins, the Apple Hill community, memorable concerts, and, of course, skiing. Can you tell us about your background (where you grew up, your career) and what your experience with Apple Hill was before you joined the board? I grew up on the north side of Keene, on the Old Sullivan Road, about a mile from where we live now. I have three sisters and we all went to the Keene schools. I went to college at Wentworth Institute in Boston, to study building construction. I came back to Keene to get my teaching certification at Keene State. I was hired by Keene High School right out of my student teaching and taught there for 33 years. I was their first vocational teacher, and later the chair of the Industrial Technology Department, which includes subjects like machine shop, woodworking, metal-working, auto mechanics, and electronics. I was also a cross-country running and skiing coach there – the head skiing coach for 17 years. After that, I switched over to coaching at Monadnock High School, when our two children were students there. I spent six years coaching Monadnock skiers. I retired from teaching in 2003 but then went to work with Baybutt Construction, building Granite Gorge Ski Area. I was in charge of putting in the chairlifts and marking out the trails, and then I became the general manager. Some days I would be there at 3am, running the groomer, then I’d go get the lodge ready for opening, and then run the lift, and sometimes I wouldn’t get home until 10:30, 11 o’clock at night. I was supposed to be retired, and I was working about 80 hours a week, but it was fun and rewarding – like a dream. I met my wife, Kathy, at Pinnacle Mountain, the ski area on the location where Granite Gorge is now. She was a ski instructor and I was a race coach. We got married pretty shortly after we met, both of us were teaching, and we built our own house in Sullivan, where we raised our two children, Coreen and Tim, and still live now. Both of our children are married, and we have three wonderful grandchildren. Being from the area, I knew Apple Hill by reputation. I didn’t know much about the organization or the facilities. Kathy and I went to concerts way back – I think some of the first concerts we went to were in the 70s. We would take the kids on the Tuesday nights. There were no dinners then, you’d just go to the concert, and then come home, awed by the musicians you had heard. "As a new board member, Chip was very diligent in making me feel welcome and accustomed to how the board operates smoothly. When in discussions in board meetings, Chip presents an aura of oversight and takes all matters into consideration before proposing a solution." - Alistair Hamilton, board member, Summer Chamber Music Workshop participant [caption id="attachment_1595" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Cabin in progress"]Cabin in progress[/caption] Not only are you the board president, but you have also been known to work with Richard on building cabins. Can you tell us about your role in the ongoing cabin renovation project? I came onto the board in 2007. People like Dita Englund and John Hoffman, previous Apple Hill board members, had been talking to me about joining the board, because they needed help with the facilities. Originally I worked with Don Primrose, another board member, on the facilities committee. I went on a tour of the campus, to see the cabins and other facilities. It was an eye-opening experience. I’d always gone to the concerts, and the musicians were always neatly dressed. But then I saw the cabins they were staying in - and some of them were really in bad condition even back then – and it blew me away. How did they stay in those cabins and still get so nicely dressed for the concerts? I have an ability to walk around, look at a building, and just immediately see what needs to be fixed, especially what the safety concerns are – I guess it’s from teaching shop for 33 years. In the cabins, I saw a lot of safety and health concerns, and I thought, this is something we should change. Especially once Richard Anderson, buildings and grounds manager, was here, I thought, we can do better. The cabin repairs we could do in small chunks, without the huge financial commitment of a bigger project. When the Keene High School students worked with Apple Hill to build new cabins a couple years ago, it was a direct result of my having taught at Keene High School. I knew they were looking for a project that year. They got a lot of work done on the cabins, got them pretty well framed and closed-in, and then we moved them up to Apple Hill at the last minute in May, so Richard and I and some others all got together to finish the cabins in time for the faculty to stay there during the summer. I spent about 300 hours working on cabins that summer. I enjoy coming up here to help Richard – I might even continue after I am off the board. It means a lot more to me now to see these things repaired. I’ve gotten attached to the place, and the people here. One of my fondest memories is talking with the faculty over lunch the days I was up here to work. Some of them even helped with work on the cabins. It was neat to meet them as people, not just as musicians. I learned that you can certainly approach the faculty – they’re very nice people who are willing to share and talk about their lives. I always encourage the other board members to get involved here in some way during the summer, to feel the experience, see what it’s all about. "It is really great to work with a board member who doesn’t mind getting stuck into building projects with a positive attitude. Chip is always ready to help out when needed and he’s happy to teach others from his wide experience of construction." - Richard Anderson, Building & Grounds Manager What are some ways that Apple Hill has grown since you joined the board seven years ago? Lenny has brought so much experience and vision to Apple Hill, both artistically and managerially. Apple Hill is really on top of things, like records and responsibility with money. It’s more efficient now. Lenny has done a great job moving the organization forward. Richard has been a great addition, as have the rest of the staff – Liz, Gail, Amelia. Everyone really knows their job and helps Lenny. There’s been real growth, and Lenny has really given the organization direction. I’m always so impressed with the contacts that Lenny and the Quartet have in the musical world – seems every musician you can mention from New York or Boston, one of them has studied with, or performed with, or knows of them. It’s a lot like the skiing world – after coaching for so many years, I think I know just about everyone in the field, and some of them probably know who I am too. "I am so impressed with Chip's dedication to Apple Hill, from chairing and guiding the work of the Board, to getting up on a ladder to shingle new cabins. He is delightful to work with, and his enthusiasm is contagious." - Lynette Blake, board member, Summer Chamber Music Workshop participant What were some highlights for you from 2014? A big highlight was when Kathy and I went to hear the Quartet perform at St. Bart’s in New York City. I had never been to New York City before. People up here were teasing me about it, but I’d avoided the city and just never had the chance to go down there with someone who knew their way around. But with Rupert, AHSQ cellist, Thompson’s help with directions, we got there with no problem. I liked being there with a purpose, not just as a tourist – hosting the reception after the concert, meeting the musicians the Quartet performed with, being there to help. Another highlight was Miles Walter’s recital this summer. It was great to have the local flavor of him playing an entire program. It was amazing to see someone so youthful playing the entire program from memory! As a guitarist myself, I thought that was incredible. One of the greatest musical moments was the concert during session V, when Varty Manouelian, Movses Pogossian, Beste Tiknaz, Rupert Thompson, and Vladimir Odinokikh played together.  Everyone there was blown away by the quality of the music. Other highlights – Colleen fit in so well as the new violinist in the Apple Hill String Quartet with Elise, Mike and Rupert. She made it a seamless transition, and stepped right up. The Quartet just keeps getting better.  And the food at the Tuesday concerts has been great! I’ve been telling people in town to make sure to come for the dinners. "From elegant cabin construction to leading meetings with a calm and supportive hand, Chip's been a great supporter of Apple Hill." - Mark Meess, Apple Hill board Vice President, Summer Chamber Music Workshop participant Your term on the board is ending this winter. What will you miss most about being on the board? I’ll miss the people, the staff and board members. The board is a fabulous group of people. I’ll still be coming up and visiting. I’ve made a lot of good friends here. Kathy and I were just saying the other day that a lot of our current group of friends are connected in some way to Apple Hill. I grew up in the area, but it’s a neat thing to meet all these people I wouldn’t have otherwise met. I’ll miss the generosity of this board. Because I’m close by, I try to come by and help out and do my part this way, but other members have really done some amazing, generous things for the organization in the way of giving. They’ve all been a pleasure to work with. "Has there ever been anyone who has cared more deeply for Apple Hill's physical appearance and well being as has Chip? Under his extraordinary guidance and hands-on approach, Apple Hill has never looked or functioned better. Thanks Chip for all your hard work and unending good cheer." - Christine Weeks, board member What other volunteer activities do you in the community? I’m on the board of Prospect Place, an assisted living community in Keene, I’ve been on that board for nine years, and I was the president about four years ago. I play my guitar and sing there sometimes, like for their Family Day recently – I played some background music while people came and visited their loved ones. In Sullivan, I’m on the conservation committee and a trustee of the trust funds. I’ve been a trustee at our church for about 15 years, and I play and sing there just about every Sunday, although singing is not always the easiest thing to do first thing in the morning!  I’m on a few advisory committees at Keene High School. I play my guitar and sing a few places, like schools, or at dinners we have in Sullivan, for the fire fighters and police and town volunteers. [caption id="attachment_1601" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Chip at home, posing with his grandmother's skis"]Chip and skis[/caption] When you’re not busy at Apple Hill, we know you enjoy skiing and singing and playing your guitar. Can you tell us more about those interests? I’ve been skiing most of my life. I started when I was young on a pair of hand-me-down skis from my grandmother, who was a ski-jumper in the 1930s/1940s. I practiced on a field behind my parent’s house. I would stick sumac branches into the snow to mark courses to make practice slalom turns on. I helped at Pinnacle Mountain, taught and coached skiing there, raced for Keene State College, and then I coached high school skiing for 25-30 years. Our two children, Coreen and Tim, skied at UNH. It was fun to see them progress. They both coached at UNH when they were there for their master’s degrees. I still ski a lot. Kathy, since retiring, now joins me and we ski just about every day mid-week. We have a lot of friends who we meet up with and ski with. We’re always saying, if you’re going to live in New Hampshire, you’ve got to get involved with some kind of winter sport, because otherwise the winters can be very long. My own guitar playing was most influenced by my mother. She played guitar, and loved to sing country-western songs to us. When I was about twelve years old, I got my first guitar, as a Christmas present. Before that, I played trumpet. My father had played trumpet – he was the lead trumpet in the Keene High band and he played in the Keene American Legion band for many years. So there’s a music background in the family. I played trumpet right through my junior year of high school and then I switched over to guitar. I had some friends who also played, and we played in little folk groups together. After college, I was too busy, with teaching and coaching, and I don’t think I picked up the guitar at all for 25 or 30 years. My work as a shop teacher was noisy work, doing building construction inside, and I couldn’t wear ear protection because I had to constantly be listening to the students for safety reasons. By the end, my hearing had suffered. I was practically tone-deaf. But the minister at our church somehow heard that I used to play guitar, and so he talked me into practicing with him a couple times a week and playing Sundays at the Sullivan church. There was another woman at the church who also played, so we had a little trio and we’d harmonize. It got me going again with my music. After a while, learning to listen to the guitar, I found that my voice was coming back and I could sing again. Before that I wouldn’t have dared to sing in public, but now, I’m singing and playing in church just about every week. That minister left the church for a bigger one a few years ago, and the other musician in our trio moved away, so eventually it left just me. If you had asked me years ago if I would have gotten up and sung solo in front of people, I would have said never. But I’ve become a little more confident. About five years ago I started writing a few of my own songs. They’re mostly ski songs – I have plenty of material from all my adventures, so that comes easily. One of my songs, “Bluebird Day”, I’ve played at Mount Sunapee, and it’s almost become the theme song for the mountain. I’ve recently gotten a new Martin guitar, an electric/acoustic, plus an amplifier and microphone so I can sing for bigger groups without straining my voice. Mike Kelley, AHSQ, has been giving me advice on equipment and technique. It’s been interesting adjusting my voice to what I hear coming from the microphone. It’s been a fun thing to have as a hobby. "There are so many dedicated and superb individuals who serve as volunteers for the many arts and social welfare organizations in this area. Chip is among them and one of the very best. There is so much to love about Chip - his methodical work ethic, his easy-going and friendly manner, his ability to follow though on every task, his love of all things Apple Hill, his NH accent - so, so much. I’ll miss his leadership on the board but I know we’ll be seeing him regularly around Apple Hill. His wife Kathy told me that we will never be rid of them  - I hope that is true!" - Lenny Matczynski, Apple Hill Director

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2014 Faculty for the Summer Chamber Music Workshop

March 14th, 2014 by Apple Hill

Kate Vincent coachingApple Hill Faculty 2014 Session I Elise Kuder, violin, Apple Hill String Quartet Colleen Jennings, violin, Apple Hill String Quartet Ealain McMullin, violin Kate Vincent, viola Mike Kelley, viola, Apple Hill String Quartet Jan Muller-Szeraws, cello Scott Kluksdahl, cello Vanessa Holroyd, flute Jeff Louie, piano Lenny Matczynski, Apple Hill Director Session II Colleen Jennings, violin, Apple Hill String Quartet Jae Young Cosmos Lee, violin Ivan Stefanovic, violin Kate Holzemer, viola Rupert Thompson, cello, Apple Hill String Quartet Katie Schlaikjer, cello Mary Javian, bass Pamela Epple, oboe Myriam Avalos Teie, piano Lenny Matczynski, Apple Hill Director Movses Pogossian coachingSession III Elise Kuder, violin, Apple Hill String Quartet Heather Braun, violin Mike Kelley, viola, Apple Hill String Quartet Sam Bergman, viola Greg Hesselink, cello Pei Lu, cello Kinan Azmeh, clarinet Jean Schneider, piano Lenny Matczynski, Apple Hill Director Session IV Apple Hill String Quartet: Elise Kuder, violin Colleen Jennings, violin Mike Kelley, viola Rupert Thompson, cello Gabriela Diaz, violin Bruce White, violin Frank Kelley, tenor voice Rane Moore, clarinet Yi-heng Yang, piano Lenny Matczynski, Apple Hill Director Greg Hesselink coachingSession V Varty Manouelian, violin Movses Pogossian, violin Ralph Morrison, violin Jesse Holstein, violin/viola Beste Tiknaz, viola Rupert Thompson, cello Max Zeugner, bass Gretchen Pusch, flute Vladimir Odinokikh, piano Lenny Matczynski, Apple Hill Director APPLY NOW to the Summer Chamber Music Workshop 2014

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Letter from Lenny: March Newsletter

March 6th, 2014 by Apple Hill

Lunch on the patioApple Hill is one of the few environments where one can clear away the external, operate from the core, and motivate oneself from within. Discovery, energy, and purpose are words many people use after they have spent time at our rural 100 acre campus in the hills of NH. Why is that? At the core of Apple Hill is this philosophy: we are inclusive – Apple Hill is open and welcoming to everyone. That means no matter who you are, what country you are from or, for our summer students, what age or level you are, you are welcome here at Apple Hill. Most music educational institutions are exclusive. One needs to audition to get in or sessions are grouped by age or level; many accept students from certain schools or give preference to students of certain teachers; and many do not accept amateur musicians or anyone over a certain age. The result, many of these institutions look the same. After being rejected from some of these institutions, it is easy for an individual to feel unwanted or just want to give up. Our goals and systems are structured to avoid that exclusivity. Apple Hill is now one of the very few institutions that has no audition process - we ask for a recording only so we can place people in their chamber groups by level; we accept all ages – one third of our students are over the age of 30 -- and all levels - we have career bound students as well as amateurs of all ages. At Apple Hill, we provide the opportunity for everyone to have the same chamber music instruction no matter who you are, where you live, or whether you have the financial resources. That was the beginning of Playing for Peace. Now when one visits Apple Hill in the summer, one immediately notices that it is a very diverse, multi-cultural place. We form partnerships with many organizations around the world to ensure that we have that diversity. In the U.S., we partner with Project STEP in Boston, Dallas Young Strings in Dallas, TX, and Community Music Works in Providence, RI – programs that support African-American and Hispanic-American musicians - and we partner with the Adult Amateur Chamber Music Association and many schools and universities to attract adults and young music students. Around the globe we partner with organizations in the Middle East, Haiti, Malaysia, the Republic of Ireland, Great Britain, Cyprus, and US embassies. From September to May I travel with the Apple Hill String Quartet to these areas, work with the students, and then secure funding to bring a number of them to Apple Hill for one month each summer. A little over one third of our 300 summer students receive full tuition assistance. So these partnerships, together with generous support from foundations, underwriters, and individuals from Apple Hill’s Playing for Peace Society and Tuition Assistance Fund, make this diversity possible. Apple Hill is not a political organization; we are a politically aware organization. We are not about taking sides or political aims – we’re about connection and we connect through the five skills of chamber music – watching, listening, being sensitive, being flexible, and adjusting. At the core of Apple Hill is respect and encouragement for the individual, regardless of a person’s race, nationality, or politics. We put people in chamber groups – for example musicians from the Dallas program with musicians from rural New Hampshire or musicians from the Middle East - and we teach them how to start a piece together, how to listen, and how to breathe and move together. There is no conductor, so they must rely on interpersonal dynamics; you can imagine what it must be like to look at someone from the other side of the world or of a different race and start a piece of music together. It’s all about being a good musician, it’s about discipline, but most of all it is about willingness. One needs to be willing to leave his or her comfort zone and dig deep, find the core, and the true self. As a result, something profound happens. Participants discover they want to choose music as their profession and become performers or music teachers. Others feel validated, not rejected, and bring that sense of accomplishment and strength to everything they do. Apple Hill is probably the only place where you will see a 13 year old from Ramallah become best friends with a 13 year old from Dallas, or see a retired criminal defense attorney, just discovering the violin, play in a group with a 13 year old, also just starting out. So I invite you to see for yourself. Apply to our summer workshop, attend a concert by the Apple Hill String Quartet on March 23 in NYC, April 4 in Keene, NH, or April 27 in Peterborough, NH, or buy a summer concert subscription and attend our concert series every Tuesday night. And if you are moved by what we do, I invite you to become one of our partners and support our mission: connection through music that brings about change.

Posted in Notes from Lenny | Comments (1)

Spotlight: Mike Kelley

March 6th, 2014 by Apple Hill

MikeMike Kelley, violist in the Apple Hill String Quartet, answers a few questions via email, about Apple Hill tours, learning new music, and winters in New Hampshire. Apple Hill just got back from a week-long residency at Arizona State University that included master classes at the music school, talks at the business school, and a concert. What were some highlights for you of this tour? It was a wonderful trip, and it's been a wonderful collaboration. The quartet and Lenny have been working with three amazing guest musicians: Sally Pinkas, a pianist and summer faculty member, composer Kareem Roustom, and clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, also on our summer faculty and one of the first Playing for Peace Scholarship recipients, way back when Elise and I were also summer participants! Lenny and Sally began talking about working together a few years ago, and the ideas grew into quite an incredible project -- the commission of a new piece, residencies at Dartmouth and Arizona, lots of teaching and playing together. As you said, there were quite a few panel discussions with many different constituencies -- theatre students, business students, Religion and Conflict Studies, the music department, Art and Social Change classes... I love talking about how chamber music is a really PRACTICAL vehicle for demonstrating how people need to listen, adjust, adapt, to work together successfully. It was also great to see Apple Hill's work reflected through all these different perspectives: Kinan talking about how his life changed as a result of attending Apple Hill back in the early '90's, Sally's much more recent views of the organization, Kareem's creative process. I also think Colleen, as our newest member of the quartet, appreciated getting bombarded with a lot of Apple Hill's history, theory, philosophy! I definitely learned as much as I hope I was teaching… The students were amazing, energized and positive with some fantastic players -- I hope some more attend our summer program. So, the residency was great, but hanging out with Kinan, Sally, Kareem, the quartet, Lenny, talking about music, life, art... selfishly, that was my favorite part! Also: the weather. One of the works you performed during this tour, Traces, by Kareem Roustom, is a new work, commissioned specifically for Apple Hill. New commissions and lesser-known works are important components of the Apple Hill repertoire. What is it like to learn a brand-new piece of music? Can you tell us about the process you go through, both individually and as a quartet? When Lenny became Director, he made commissioning new works a priority for us, which is fantastic, and you're right, it is important. Some people think of classical music as being from the past, so it's our responsibility to keep making art that reflects, informs, delights our current world. We've commissioned pieces by Dan Sedgwick (an Apple Hill alumnus), Christine Southworth, John Harbison, and, along with Dartmouth and the Gammage Hall at Arizona State University, this incredible piece by Kareem. You can't rely on recordings obviously when you're preparing a new piece, you've got to look at the page and try to go beyond it into the implied, what you imagine the composer wants -- that's difficult but liberating. When we worked on this piece, in the early stages, we had compressed schedule (6 people, playing all over, it's hard getting nice big blocks of time together), so we wanted to get Kareem involved early, so we could get to the heart of what he heard in his head, but… not too early! It's a difficult piece with a lot of interesting extended techniques, but I think, without exception, the audiences connected to the expressive, deeply moving emotional core of the work. Kareem is a renowned film composer, so he talked about often having a visual component in his head while writing -- in this case, his inspiration had to do with a pre-Islamic poem, two lovers meeting at the convergence of traveling tribes, and the fruitless search by one for the other after their camp had been broken down, moved on… and this story as a metaphor for the Syria he once knew, now gone. Our process -- well, it was great to have multiple performances over 6 months, for Traces to seep "into our bones"… it's amazing how it takes time for new music to become "natural" to both the performer and the listener... the professional life doesn't always allow for that, which is part of why I think new music is difficult for some audiences. We need to become as emotionally connected, as facile, with a new piece as we are with Mozart or Brahms. I've played pieces of Kareem's that used different Arabic modes and tunings (maqams) -- it's really hard if you haven't grown up with it in your ears! He didn't give the viola much of that this time-- I think he learned his lesson! Apple Hill’s Playing for Peace program means that the Quartet does a lot more than a typical string quartet might – not only do you rehearse, teach, and perform, but you do those activities all over the world for really diverse venues, audiences, and students. What is that experience like, and how do you think it makes the AH experience different from other string quartets? Well, I think one of the misconceptions coming out of the conservatory education, now changing, is that you'll end up "just playing" as a professional musician. If you're in an orchestra, you're on the contract negotiating committee, or planning outreach, if you're the resident quartet at a university, you're teaching students and working on recruitment, filing grades, etc… if you're working for a nonprofit, you're helping with all the day-to-day details of running an organization. Rupert and I are on the Facilities Committee, Elise is on the Development Committee,  and I work with Amelia all year long on the Summer Program, my colleagues are all helping to research repertoire, book travel, organize tours, connect with other schools, presenters, organizations. So I think that's pretty normal for a string quartet these days. It's true though, that Apple Hill has a wide reach, and of course it's in our mission that we value diversity: age, race, cultural background… and that we try to practice that ourselves, in our quartet, in our summer faculty, in our participant body. So to make our program diverse, it's important that we cast a wide net, that we find places that might not have access to what we do, and go there, serve those communities, connect them with our own. And our philosophy -- that music is transformative, and that the process of learning chamber music can lead to better connections through the achievement of a shared task -- that's a very broad philosophy. So the demonstration of those concepts -- we have a lecture-demonstration where we show how that works in a very concrete fashion -- is relevant to a wide range of people. The business students were interested in the team-building aspect, the theatre department in how our art impacts our local community, the music students about how moving, breathing together increases the technical manifestation of the art. It's a rich, engaging job, and there are multiple lifetimes worth of amazing chamber music repertoire -- I love it. [caption id="attachment_1534" align="alignleft" width="163" caption="Mike, as a young participant at Apple Hill"]Young Mike[/caption] Your first summer at Apple Hill was when you were 12 years old. What has it been like to grow up at Apple Hill, then join the faculty, then become a member of the resident string quartet? Well, I joke sometimes that I'm basically still doing what I was doing almost 30 years ago, playing chamber music all summer in that old barn! But I have made progress: I no longer play the violin. Seriously though, I'm lucky, to see the organization evolve, to try to continue to grow and improve, and always, always, keep the core, the things that make it such a special place, consistent and alive. It's a double-edged sword: I love when alumni come back, see the pictures of the former Chamber Players, the old cabins, their names written above their bunk,  the group shots in front of the Gazebo, and think of those days... then they see the new Hoffmann auditorium, the new Bath and Shower Barn, the NEW cabins, the red roof of the barn, and wish they had had those back then, while being simultaneously outraged that we could ever have changed a splinter of their mouse-ridden Yurt. Come on, people! I remember, back in the 80's, getting my music in the mail (that I'd be playing that summer) and then running to the barn when I finally got to Apple Hill to see who else was in my groups, who my coaches would be... now it's all online and posted three months in advance! It loses a bit of the whimsy, or the magic, I suppose. But there are advantages too, like, for example, you can START PRACTICING YOUR MUSIC EARLIER. I'm also not alone in all of this… the number of musicians who have come here since the 90's, or 80's or 70's… there are actually a lot of us! What other projects are you working on this winter, outside of Apple Hill? Elise and I bought a house together in Harrisville last summer and, like the rookies we are, came back after Christmas to a 20-below, Polar-Vortex-busted pipe. So recovering from that was a project (the cat was ok). The winter is beautiful up here, but we have to work to not be isolated as it drags on, so we try to fill our weeks with lots of good cooking and evenings with friends, after rehearsals! But we are out of February, spring isn't far now, when the woods turn into the most magical place on earth, and you can go out running in them surrounded by the lime greens and the pinks and purples... and the mud! The whole quartet will perform sonatas with Maura Glennon, one of our dear friends and an amazing pianist, in about a month -- I'm doing the Rebecca Clarke viola sonata, one of my most favorite pieces, so I'm working hard on that. The concert is at Keene State College on April 4th… my 40th birthday! Argh! This interview is over.

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Where are they now?

March 6th, 2014 by Apple Hill

Three Apple Hill Summer Chamber Music Workshop alumni spoke recently with Summer Coordinator Amelia Perron about their memories of Apple Hill, what Apple Hill meant to each of them, and where they are now. The following conversations are an insight into the transformative power of music and community. Allison FrisbeeAllison Frisbee What instrument do you play, where are you from originally, and when did you attend Apple Hill? I play viola, although not as much as I wish, and I am from Concord, NH – right up the road from Apple Hill. I attended Apple Hill from 1996 to 2005. I was the music librarian from 2001-2002 and then a Camp Director from 2003-2005. My first summer was the first summer that Mike was on faculty, and my second summer was the first summer that Elise was on faculty. What is your favorite memory of Apple Hill? I have so many! My life is so intertwined with Apple Hill – which is strange to say since I haven’t been there in years. But I can’t imagine my younger years without Apple Hill, and my adult life doesn’t make sense without Apple Hill. I have so many great memories tied up with figuring out who I was – a weird, artsy kid. Meeting interesting, passionate, talented people at Apple Hill was really important for me then - and meeting people of such a huge variety of backgrounds who could all come together over a passion for listening and sharing themselves. There is one memory I viscerally identify with Apple Hill. In 2002, my father died while I was at a session at Apple Hill. His funeral was on a Wednesday – the day off at Apple Hill – and everyone came. There was a section of the church that was just Apple Hill people. Of course, nobody brings fancy clothes to Apple Hill, so everyone was wearing their concert black. They were wearing black socks with flip-flops to make it look like they were wearing real shoes. It was an amazing experience, to have the community so present. It was so difficult, but joyful too, with my friends around me and the music around me. We played the slow movement of the Dvorak bass quintet -- myself and four friends from Dallas, who all came from a really different background, but were totally present for me in those moments. I have great memories as a Camp Director, too, seeing the next generation of 14, 15, 16 year olds getting the same experiences I had, building new communities, and knowing how meaningful those communities can be for them.  And watching the friends I grew up with at Apple Hill transition into leadership roles at Apple Hill as faculty and Camp Directors, and how we all continue to have transformative experiences there. What was it like for you to experience a music workshop in such a rural place – living in a cabin in the woods, performing in a barn, etc? I was such a kid when I first came – I was 13 – I was into whatever. The rural aspect is so tied into the whole experience of Apple Hill. It’s the best kind of living in a bubble. Apple Hill creates a world. I would always get a knot in my stomach driving up the road to Apple Hill – because you’re stepping into a world that is already created, that is already organically existing – and you don’t know yet what your role in that world will be. What’s great is that what’s created in that world you can take out into the rest of the world with you, but it’s so different at Apple Hill. You can immerse yourself completely. Is there something you learned from Apple Hill that is still with you? How do you feel your life is different for having attended Apple Hill? Well, I didn’t become a musician – I was actually at Apple Hill when I found out that I’d gotten accepted to Columbia Law School, which was the end of the long road towards figuring out what I wanted to do.  But there is no possible way I could have grown up into the person that I am without the support of the community at Apple Hill. I know people who chose different life paths than mine, but they are all serious and passionate about what they do. And really, the communities that are built at Apple Hill are ultimately about listening -- and I continue to believe that the listening we do to make beautiful chamber music facilitates the listening that’s necessary to build the strong communities that can function to end conflict. It’s brought such a balance, to be connected to a community of artists doing creative things. Now that I have kids, it’s important to me that they will be exposed to this world of passionate people who do what strikes them as important.  And best of all, it seems like there is no where in the world I can travel and not have a friend to visit! Are you still in touch with your friends from Apple Hill? Yes. My son Andrew, who is lying on my arm right now, his godmother is Emer [a fellow Apple Hill participant]. A lot of these people I’ve now known over half my life. We’ve been to each other’s weddings; we are godparents for each other’s children. It’s a new, wonderful phase in our lives. I’m getting to see people I grew up with grow up, and see their creative endeavors. I have a tremendous sense of pride in what they are doing. And the ones with children have spectacular children. What are you doing now? Is music still part of your life? I am a lawyer, about to start a new job at a large pharmaceutical firm. I have two children, Andrew, who will be 4 in June, and Maggie, who is 1. I live outside of Philadelphia – actually not very far from where Ross [a fellow Apple Hill participant] lives – I met him at my first summer at Apple Hill. I don’t play viola as much as I would like. I used to play chamber music more when I lived in Virginia – I miss that. I want to raise my kids around music. In fact, my son Andrew has a 1/8 sized violin, and he’s taking Suzuki lessons, although I am going to switch him to viola as soon as possible – maybe tomorrow. [Asks son, “Andrew, do you want to play violin or viola?” Andrew replies, “violin.”] Is there anything else you’d like to say about Apple Hill? Yes – I was at Apple Hill during a time of tremendous change, when Apple Hill was figuring out where it was going. But through that, the character has never changed. The people involved are so deeply committed and focused on community, connections, listening, valuing each other, and that is held above everything else. It’s an amazing thing. Lara HarbLara Harb Lara is a pianist from Ramallah, West Bank, Palestine. She attended Apple Hill twice as a teenager in the late ‘90s. She moved to the US to attend Brown University, stayed for a PhD at NYU, and, as of September, is a professor of Arabic literature at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. Here, she talks about her Apple Hill experiences. What is your favorite memory of Apple Hill? There are so many little memories that shaped my experience. I remember the atmosphere, and the happiness I felt there. I think of all the music I heard there. One specific event I remember was a concert of two jazz singers, improvising. It was unbelievable music, and something I never would have had the opportunity to hear in Ramallah. Musicians would come to Israel, but they wouldn’t come to the West Bank. When the Apple Hill Chamber Players came to Ramallah, they brought one of few chances to hear classical music performed. And then I came to Apple Hill and heard all that music – it was amazing and enlightening. And of course I met so many great people! Coming to Apple Hill, what was it like for you to experience a music workshop in such a rural place – living in a cabin in the woods, performing in a barn? It was fun! At 15, it was a fun experience. Obviously, at the time, it wasn’t my main impression – coming to America was a much bigger impression. Living in the West Bank, travel for Palestinians is restricted – there are Israeli check points everywhere, and you can’t travel around without a permit from the Israeli military. So arriving at the airport in Boston and driving for two hours without having some soldiers stop you and ask for your ID card – that was more of a big point for me. But in retrospect, the experience of living in a cabin does seem unusual. Performing in the barn – there is an amazing energy. You feel the history of all the musicians who have played there. It’s unique; there is something special about Apple Hill itself. Is there something you learned from Apple Hill that is still with you? How do you feel your life is different for having attended Apple Hill? At the time, Apple Hill made me become serious about music, although I didn’t continue on to a career in music. Growing up in Palestine, and learning music there, opportunities were limited.  There happened to be a piano teacher in town, and that’s how I ended up learning piano. After the establishment of the conservatory in Ramallah in the 90’s, there were many more opportunities to study different instruments than I had, but we didn’t have as many choices, and I didn’t have the bigger picture. At Apple Hill, there were serious musicians, and I realized you can be so serious about music, and that you have to be in order to be a very good musician. Musicians have a discipline to seek perfection, to attempt perfection. That discipline can be applied to anything, even if you go on to do other things. Are you still in touch with your friends from AH? Yes, through Facebook, I’ve gotten back in touch. Immediately after coming back from my session, I definitely kept in touch. For example, there is a violinist who I attended Apple Hill with who now plays in the East West Divan Orchestra, and whom I met up with recently after one of their recent performances in the US.  I also meet Apple Hillers every now and then whom I did not overlap with at Apple Hill, but we find an immediate connection. After I returned home the first time I went to Apple Hill, an Israeli violinist whom I had met at Apple Hill came to visit me in Ramallah. It was an interesting experience. She was nervous about coming, but she had the guts to come, even though her family and friends were against it. It was enlightening for her I think to see Ramallah, the other side, which, from my experience, the typical Israeli has a distorted idea of. I remember when she visited we wrote an email to Eric [Stumacher, former Apple Hill director and pianist] together. What are you doing now? Is music still part of your life? I am teaching Arabic literature at Dartmouth College. I came to the US in 2000 for college, and ironically I ended up close to where I started. When I was 15 I never would have expected that I would be here! Coming to the US from Palestine and being an Arab in the US, especially after September 11th, comes with complications, which can be negative, but it can also be an opportunity to challenge people’s preconceptions, even just by standing in front of them and being a human being. Now the US is like a second home to me. I like Dartmouth – the students are great, although the winters are cold! Yes, I am still playing music, although not seriously. I can’t play the difficult pieces I played when I was younger. I played through college and even did a senior recital, but then I decided to do a PhD which takes a lot of time. I’ve been moving around too much, but I’ve recently invested in a digital keyboard, which has enabled me to get back into playing again. Some people do yoga, or sports, to bring their focus back, and relax, and think clearly. I do music. The letter you wrote about your Playing for Peace experience is still on the Apple Hill website. What do you think, looking back at it now? It’s weird to look at something you wrote in the past.  It seems as if it was written by a different person. But that letter was an honest, sincere expression of what I was feeling then. ShawnShawn LeSure Shawn LeSure is a violinist from Memphis, TN, who began attending Apple Hill in the early 2000s. He is now a fellow at Community MusicWorks in Providence, RI. We interviewed him via email. Quite fortuitously, one day, the Apple Hill Chamber Players happened upon my corner of the globe: Memphis, TN. I was corpulent teen-violinist. I thought that I would give the application a chance, though secretly I was unsure that I would ever make it there; but, lo and behold, I was accepted, and attended two sessions that summer. In preparation I watched the Apple Hill Playing for Peace VHS a million times- I had practically memorized the Mozart Oboe quartet! The first summer of Apple Hill was truly like a dream – even today I feel the waves of that dream-world wash over my memory. I was playing the funeral march movement of Schumann’s Piano Quintet; and the skies opened up, and rain was pouring, like the clouds hitting critical mass and relieving their copious tears; beads and beams of water fell; lighting dotted the sky with flashes of brilliance, and thunder sounded deep and ominous upon those hills. Quite suddenly we were outside, running and screaming; feeling the rain wash over us and delighting in it. Sooner than it began, it was over --mysteriously, and we were inside again – silent – like we were suddenly awake to some fundamental truth of being. I cried my eyes out – and I still don’t know why. Something about being in the woods – close to nature, with all of its murmuring, something about being at that place delighted my heart. At Apple Hill, I learned what it means to listen. To be honest, I’m still working on it – we need more listening in the world. Listening for its own sake. At Apple Hill, I first came in touch with the vast inner world of my psyche – and today I’m still unwrapping what was first opened at Apple Hill. I’m extremely fortunate – and one could even say blessed; getting to attend Apple Hill for so many summers – meeting amazing people -- from all over the world -- and connecting with them on a supremely human level. The beauty of this place is timeless and enduring -- like from a distant star -- both near to us and far away in beauty.

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Shop Online, Support Apple Hill!

March 4th, 2014 by Apple Hill

Did you know that, just by shopping online, you can support Apple Hill? Thanks to Amazon's AmazonSmile program, when you sign up and shop online through AmazonSmile, 0.5% of every purchase is donated to Apple Hill! It won't cost you anything extra, and signing up couldn't be easier. Here's what to do: 1) Go to Already have an account with Amazon? Then just enter your email and Amazon password. If you don't have an account, click "create an account." 2) Once you're logged in, you'll see this: Under "pick your own charitable organization", type "Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music" and click "Search." 3) Next, you'll see this: Click the yellow "select" button and Apple Hill will be listed as your charity. 4) And that's it! Just remember, anytime you want to shop on Amazon, make sure to go to -- if you start from just, Apple Hill won't receive a donation. Happy shopping! And thank you for your support!

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