Woodstock, NY

Woodstock, NY

Woodstock, New York

When people ask where I live and I say in Woodstock, New York, the question that often follows is, “Is that THE Woodstock?”,  famous  for the Rock Concert?  Yes, this is the one, the one in which many, many rock ‘n’ roll stars lived, including Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan.  It was that famous rock concert festival and the documentaries about it, the groundbreaking rock music that came out of Woodstock prior to the big concert and the subsequent afterglow which has made Woodstock, New York famous around the world.  What is often overlooked in our popular culture’s obsession with Rock and Roll music is that Woodstock had been an artist’s colony for a long time before the rock ‘n’ rollers and hippies showed up, and has been one for well over a century.  It has long been a haven for artists, painters, sculptors, writers, poets, theater and dance, jazz music and of course, last but certainly not least, classical chamber music.

Maverick Concert, photo by Alan Carey

Maverick Concert, photo by Alan Carey

Surprisingly few people know that the oldest summer chamber music festival in America is the Maverick Chamber Music Festival founded here in 1915.  While this summer series goes largely unknown outside our region, it is is very well known on the inside of the chamber music scene, among the high and mighty of professional chamber music ensembles such as string quartets and trios, many of whom have played here at one time or another.  The festival consists of concerts offered every weekend from mid June through mid September.  Concerts take place on Saturday evenings at 6 pm., and Sundays at 3 pm.  For example, the 2006 season presented the American, Borromeo, Brentano, Miami, Pacifica, Shanghai, St. Lawrence, Rosetti, and Tokyo String Quartets.  Soloists included Zuill Bailey, Frederick Chiu, Felix Fan, Livia Sohn, Joshua Rifkin, and local jazz bass great, Dave Holland, among others.  Please visit  www.maverickconcerts.org  for further information.

Maverick Concert Hall

Maverick Concert Hall. Photo by Simon Russell.

The concerts are presented in the Maverick Theater, a barn built by Hervey White and a group of volunteer artists in 1916 and was recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Hervey White wanted to create an environment that was free to any and all to perform music and present theater.  The structure itself is very rustic and strictly a summer venue. Almost immediately it became the summer home to many of the finest string players from New York, who played concert after concert of chamber music every weekend on a very high level, much the same as other well known New England summer chamber music festivals.  During those early years, Woodstock was a summer haven for numerous New York Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera Orchestra players, looking to go to a cooler location away from the heat of the city. There is more history about Maverick to be found on the link to the Maverick Concerts website shown above. Additionally, an increasingly popular and ever more famous Woodstock Film Festival takes place in October and is an exciting happening bringing brand new films, film lovers and famous actors to town for a week.  Visit www.woodstockfilmfestival.com  for more information.

Mill Hill Road, Woodstock, NY

Mill Hill Road, Woodstock, NY

Woodstock is situated in the Catskill Mountains.  The village has a permanent population of around 5,000 people and an equal number of weekenders, mainly from New York City. Woodstock has long been an escape for New Yorkers in the summer who wanted to seek cooler weather and get away from the sweltering heat and unrelenting noise of the city.  Some of the earliest chamber music participants traveled to Woodstock by sailing up on the Hudson river on great river steamships and getting off at Kingston.  The slight increase in altitude from Kingston to Woodstock makes it just a bit cooler here in the summer.   As a tourist destination, Woodstock offers many intriguing shops and numerous interesting restaurants.  There are many fine art galleries, including the well known Woodstock Center for Photography.  Woodstock has managed to maintain a relatively homey and charming appearance, when compared with some more glitzy tourist towns, such as Aspen or Santa Fe.  It is said that numerous celebrities have chosen to have homes in the Catskills and Woodstock because of the relaxed, casual, unhurried, blue jeans atmosphere  Please plan to come for a visit sometime.  If you are also planning to visit my workshop, please make an appointment first by calling 845-679-4453 or writing me an e-mail.