I am always on the look out for grace, and there is precious little of it in our world today. You and your beautiful gifted family personify it on every level and knowing you and hearing your music has enhanced my life more than you can ever know. There is beauty in this world, and you provide it.
xo Kevin S.
The concert was amazing in two ways. First, it is amazing that there should be world class chamber music in a suburban town, well north of Boston. I don’t know how this is possible, even given the skills, passion, musical connections and persuasiveness of its director, Julie Scolnik. However, a short while ago, I attended a concert in Andover that changed my view of what is possible anywhere, let alone a suburb.
The world of top tier classical music is dominated by major symphony orchestras and opera houses, celebrity soloists, and well known string quartets and trios. Andover Chamber Music has consistently shown how much more there is by assembling more varied groups of instruments and using them in imaginative ways. But what completely blew my mind was the performance of Mahler’s First Symphony by an ensemble of 15 players, more or less one instrument representing each section of the orchestra. It being a standard work for symphony orchestra, there is no way not to compare it with the sound of the Boston Symphony or Berlin Philharmonic playing the same music, as there might be with a new or unfamiliar piece. To my amazement, the performance did not lack in any way the sonority and fullness of a complete orchestra. Beyond that, I was able to hear the harmony and texture of Mahler’s symphony with a clarity I had not experienced previously. The dynamic range was extensive, the sound was balanced, and the players were completely coordinated in expressing the most subtle aspects of tempo change. For me, this opened a whole new dimension of what small groups of world class musicians can do. M. Levin
I’m still basking in the music from last night. What a great program: first the rich chromatics of Schubert–always so satisfying; then the uplifting, arrogant–but we SO forgive him!–Mozart; and then a knock your socks off piece (Verklarte Nacht) I’ve never heard (saying much about my dismal musical education) by the kid Schoenburg that has permanently changed the wiring in my brain! John Tittman
Again, I am so grateful to you for organizing such brilliant concerts, from every perspective: musical, thematic, ethnic, socially aware, and moderated by your uniquely charming self, each one is splendid and memorable.
I LOVE your concerts. They are such a fantastic mix of wonderful quality and informality. The question and answer sessions are fun and I am smiling through them. I have always found the other members of the audience to be very friendly to my husband and me. Your selection of composers, musicians and pieces lends itself so well to the setting that I am entranced. And another thing, when I go to order my tickets on line there is NO Handling fee. Wow! You do a great job!
. . . I have listened to Mahler’s 1st symphony probably over 100 times in my life, but I enjoyed this performance more than any other I have listened to. I did not at all miss the depth of the strings in the full orchestra version, and there were several advantages of this chamber version. One could concentrate on the featured instrument when each took its turn to shine. Some people close their eyes when listening to live performances, but I love to see the movement gyrations that the musicians go through to produce those beautiful sounds. And it was fascinating to watch the non-verbal communication that was going on between them to coordinate their parts in the whole. All these factors added to my enjoyment of the piece. Joel Ventura ( April 2012)
I enjoyed last Sunday’s concert immensely.
The level of performance was superb and the programming so interesting.
Mahler’s First is among the handful of my favorite symphonies. When I first heard about the version you were doing, I thought, how odd and how intriguing. What on earth would it sound like and would it be just a pointless exercise? So, I was set for anything as it began. It didn’t take long before I realized how astonishingly well it was working, as I was sitting there rapt by the experience, occasionally smiling ear to ear from the sheer enjoyment of it all. The energy and vitality was remarkable.
Most astonishing was what a challenging choice the Mahler must be for a leaderless group — given all the erratic swings in tempo that exist throughout — and how successfully you all pulled it off. Not only did I think it was being performed well, but at times I really felt you were all playing “in the zone”, sweeping me along into one transcendent experience.
It’s funny because in most large symphonic pieces that you may know and love, there are some parts that you really love more than others. And you’re occasionally aware at times that you’re just waiting to get through a section to reach the “good stuff.” But for me, this Mahler symphony is all “the good stuff” — absolutely no down time passages while I’m just waiting for something better to come along.
You all invested it with such feeling and beauty — and I really admired the high musicianship of your group — more intimately in sync with one another than many other orchestras I’ve heard. M. Ostrow
The finale concert of this afternoon exceeded my expectation. I felt intoxicated as I left the Cochran Chapel. I have never attended the concert of large orchestra of chamber musicians. It is interesting to hear them play listening to each other and not being led by a conductor. The both pieces by Brahms and Mahler that you selected were simply wonderful. Thank you for all the work you did this year to bring such beautiful music to Andover. Best,
Larry and Kaori
Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! What a program, what magnificent musicians! AND what an appreciative audience. Great Job! Thanks so much! xoxox Margot
What a fabulous finale to a fabulous season! We are still walking on air.
Congratulations! Margaret and John Kimball
That you have put lots of thought, energy, reflection, and ingenuity into your concerts is no more evident than the pleasure that everyone who attended on Sunday seemed to wear on their faces. The atmosphere was electric, the artists superb, and the afterglow quite palpable. Your offerings are always better than the buildup you create.
We are so happy to have found you!! Mary and John
My name is Daria Adamczyk. I am 10 years old. Yesterday I came to the concert The Unbearable Lightness of Being with my friend Anastasia Maynard. Her mom introduced us to you. I absolutely loved the concert, especially the wind instruments. Also, your dress was beautiful. I came to this concert for my birthday, which was on October 5. I would love to come back soon. Sincerely,
“Julie, again, what a lovely, beautiful event. I keep saying the word “beautiful” because that’s what I keep hearing, and people are not using it as a cliché but as something very heartfelt. How magical to see the performers before the two Winslow Homers, . . . . Thank you again for taking the time to pull this together and making such spot on choices. The level of knowledge you brought to this is most impressive.
Again, a triumph and a great way to close the year out for the public!”
Brian T. Allen
“Fabulous concert! I think you’ve gone way beyond the realm of ‘you can hear world-class music without going in to Boston.’ It’s more like ‘go to Boston or anywhere you want; you can’t have this experience anywhere else.’ … ACM is unique; lots of groups play the top hits of the last few centuries; but no one else plays this stuff in quite this way.” Art Robins
“First rate: Jordan Hall without the slanty seating!” Everett Gendler
“What a wonderful concert last Sunday ! A full house on Super Bowl Sunday is something to be proud of.
I especially want to say congratulations for the performances of Sasha and Sophie. It is amazing to remember them in the days of Treble Chorus and now to see such accomplished and confident musicians. You and Michael should be really proud. Please pass along to them my best regards and to let us hear more.”
“Applause! Mistral is a quintessence of talent! It’s lovely to recognize the members over a stretch of concerts. . . The magic of opening night is still with us. It’s amazing to think that this quality of creative performance and programming is right in Andover. Praises be … to thee!”
“I know when something moves and exhilarates me and frees my mind and spirit to adventure elsewhere for a while. It’s a kind of transport I don’t experience nearly enough in my life. Very precious to me when it does happen. You’re very smooth and articulate with the verbal parts of the presentation as well. Not that that’s a surprise in itself, but it’s striking to see that kind of left-brain/right-brain accomplishment in such immediate juxtaposition.” G. Moran
“It is not just the musicians, who are marvelous, but your programming and arrangements make the concerts so exquisite. That is where the difference lies. Other chamber groups play really well too but the imagination does not come close to yours.”
“Let me add our thanks for yesterday’s excellent program. These days remembrances of the Holocaust are becoming fewer, which is felt with sadness by those of us with personal ties to it (our son-in-law’s parents both survived the camps and have told us much about their experiences there). But the taste and standards that you set for your usual programs did not desert you here despite the potential limits of the subject matter. It was a fascinating program, expertly played by top-notch performers. We commend you on it.” Lilah and Leon Groisser
“The concert was in a stratosphere above exquisite. The program was inspiring, the musicians magnificent, and the thrill of sounds that were truly celestial will be burned into my memory.
All that effort produced a sublime respite from the drudgery and horrors of our world. We, in the Valley, owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude for releasing us from ourselves and transporting us to an ethereal goodness.
The program was absolutely breath-taking. Thank you, thank you,
“Well, everyone in our crowd is in agreement that that’s got to be one of the best concerts we’ve ever heard. …You certainly had enough megawatts going tonight to light a small planet.” Ruth Hobeika
The opening concert of the season was truly magical! I rarely hear a program which does not contain music I’ve heard many times. This was one of them. I practically floated all the way home. Piazolla was dessert first, Schubert a salad, Stravinsky a chef’s special and Dvorak the main course. Where do you find all these extraordinary unusual items? It must take hours of research and planning and believe me, we appreciate it.” Barbara Sands
“Julie, its was a rich, rich, brilliant performance. Thank you so much for all the work you do to make each concert special in its on way. I loved hearing the historical points the question and answer session brought up. I learned quite a bit. Your talents are so many.” Nancy Brooks
“Well deserved! Julie, if you ever had an essay contest on the theme ‘Why I Hate to Ever Miss an ACMS Concert,’ my reason would be that there is no other place to hear recent or contemporary chamber music that is both excellent and accessible. All too often, inclusion of contemporary music in a program seems to be a punishment for having enjoyed Brahms or Schubert. The contemporary music that you include is thoughtful and enjoyable, and it always feels like it belongs. You are a great artist, and I think that your real genius is in the programming.” – Art Robins
“It truly was a extraordinary concert–such a wonderful program all around.. Your efforts are so special–a gift to all the community. It was wonderful meeting you.” – Claudia Bach
“Amazing, amazing, amazing. What a concert! ‘Red-hot’ is not an exaggeration, but the music was always played with a sensitivity that kept it from flying out of orbit. I’m sorry we can’t attend it again tomorrow.” Art Robins
“…I wanted to let you know how outstanding the last concert was. The music was phenomenal…but that has always been the case. What is striking is that the concerts always bring a sense of warm family/community. Your initial greeting sets the tone. And then something always happens. This last concert, the young girl from Lawrence sang, following the story of how you met her at the school. Musicians gave background on the music to be played, and were humorous and inviting. In the past, a raffle drawing became a playful exchange between you and the audience. The combination of exceptional music along with personal touches creates an atmosphere that strengthens community and inspires the spirit. You really bring a gift to us all.”
“Music cannot totally eliminate the sorrow we all feel nor the underlying fear, but for one night in North Andover, thanks to the ACMS we were able to lay aside these feeling and allow the music to soothe our souls, mend our aching hearts and let us feel pleasure. Thank you both for all of your hard work to make this possible.” – Lee Thornton
“Yes, the evening was a means for getting back to what we live life for: for living in harmony, for shared and profound experience that touches the core, ineffably; for transport out of the voices of everyday existence by way of resonant sound. It was healing; it was wonderful; it was talent. Thank you for making it happen.” Bev Shafer
“Bravo! Another wonderful concert!! I was able to bring nine of our violin students and one mom to the Tough Turkey concert (Sunday Oct.27) thanks to your gracious donation of tickets. Every one of the children thoroughly enjoyed the experience. One 7 year old sitting beside me remarked during one lively section, ‘I’m going to clap real hard when it’s time. I love this.’ Even as an adult I was thoroughly engrossed in the enchanting tale. What a delight to discover that ACM’ favorite flutist is also a master story teller. Thumbs up all around for Julia! These concerts are a great way to supplement our children’s music lessons. We have seen so many great results when music is introduced into the lives of these kids. We are delighted to be able to collaborate with you in making their lives even richer. I look forward to continuing this cooperative relationship between our two groups. It’s a great harmony.” Marcia E. Lier, Director, Community Strings
“It took me several hours to go to sleep last night. I knew I had experienced something very special, and it took me considerable time to let it all sink in.
I had no expectation as to how well the orchestra would play together. It sounded to me as if they had been playing together for years as a working ensemble: Power. Delicacy. Nuances of color. In short, other than filling every seat in the house, I don’t know how it could have been improved. Truly outstanding music-making.
Last night you had me in tears. You touched a part of me that is rarely touched. You made me feel love. You made me feel pain and vulnerability. You made me feel hope. You made me feel the joy of being alive. You helped me to re-experience my humanity in a profound way. Thank You from the bottom of my heart.” Mark Dubinsky
“The performances were unbelievable and I thought the name of the program should have Stunningly Beautiful Women Perform Mozart I plan to attend more concerts as I am able (this was my first) and congratulate you on getting your season off with this beautiful and moving concert. How will you beat this?” Emilie Baber
“Last night was a five star event! Such pure JOY of musicianship and stellar musicians as well. Programming continues to be innovative which is such a treat in these days of top 40 broadcasting. Keep up your great work and high standards!” – Barbara Sands
“Great concert and although I missed the pre-concert talk your remarks before the concert were informative and witty. It’s a pleasure to come up from Cambridge to hear the wonderful music making. You certainly manage to get some of the best talent around.. Thanks again for a wonderful musical interlude.” Mona Stein
“Julie, by the way I not only thought your playing and everyone else’s was wonderful last weekend, but was particularly struck by the thoughtfulness of the programming structure, which I understood ahead of time, but it really worked nicely, which is a subtle way of saying that if you keep this up your artistic directing is going to be battling your playing for pride of place. And for what it’s worth, I think the audience was particularly taken with Mr. Hite. To be so close to such sustained singing that is not full blown opera at such an extraordinary level was something most of us don’t have an opportunity to experience. Bring him back and they’ll keep coming. You just have to talk to him about his shoes.” John Wessler
“Thanks for giving me the opportunity to introduce the world class quality of the ACMS to some new friends. You and your colleagues played with such vim, vigor and virtuosity that it was hard to believe that it was not a sold out Symphony Hall performance.” Deborah G.
“My husband and I attended the concert last night, and we must say that we both thought that was the best concert ever! I have always enjoyed the wind instruments (especially the flute). Everyone on stage looked like they really had a good time!”
“My husband and I loved the program. We had no idea that such wonderful musical resources are available in our own backyard (so to speak). We were invited by Deborah Walker and lured by complimentary tickets. We’ll plan to attend often in the future. It was our first ACMS concert. It will not be our last! It was great. Thanks for giving the winds a premiere voice. We will see you in the fall!” Charles and Hildegard Wilson
“Last night’s concert was absolutely wonderful – it was my favorite one of the season! I thought it was a perfect balance of pieces. I love Poulenc, and the Mozart and Janacek were beautiful I was also thrilled that Todd Palmer was on the program. I just love watching him play because he so clearly enjoys what he does and he invests so much of his own energy and personality into the music without overshadowing the composers intent. I love watching musicians who move and physically relate with the music and each other in performance. The evening left me completely energized.” Leslie Malis