A stormy morning filled with torrential downpours, thunder, and lightning gave way to cooler temperatures and a crystal blue sky: perfect weather for a summer concert at the Meeting House.
A crowd of over fifty people gathered to hear the Upper Catskill String Quartet play the music of composer George Gershwin.
The UCSQ began with an early piece of Gershwin’s “Rialto Ripples’”(1917) and played selections in chronological order, culminating in his “Someone to Watch Over Me” (1929). Each member of the Quartet took turns speaking before each piece they played to give the audience information about Gershwin’s – all too brief — life and work.
The Quartet’s cellist, Robert Gosselink, retired from SUNY Cobleskill as the director of music almost 20 years ago and began to pursue his interest in the cello. He stated that the Gershwin program was selected for the Landis audience. The Quartet has played a wide range of repertoire at the Arboretum for several years now, starting when the Meeting House was just a wooden, bare-bones structure. Robert said the acoustics have improved.
Alison McMahon fell in love with the viola around the age of eight and has been playing ever since. She said that “playing at Landis is like playing at the top of the world,” a reference to the panoramic view of the Schoharie Valley from the Meeting House.
Violinist John DeValve was a former orchestra director and a current member of the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra. He said that he enjoys performing at the Arboretum because of the appreciative response of the audience. He stated that Landis has the largest turnout of all the venues they frequent.
Beth Brandel plays the violin and holds a Master’s Degree in Music Education. She has played as a member and as a soloist with chamber orchestras, including performances at Carnegie Hall and Kennedy Center. She loves Landis’ wide open sky and rolling hills.
Most of the concert goers were return visitors for the UCSQ. Even younger, first-time attendees said they recognized some of the music – since Gershwin’s music has become part of our American heritage. The ages of audience members varied significantly, but the movement of heads and feet in time with the familiar tunes did not.