‘It’s not an exclusive club’: Charlemont concert series aims to make chamber music accessible

Mohawk Trail Concerts Executive Artistic Director Mark Fraser, pictured with his cello outside the Charlemont Federated Church in 2021. The 54th annual concert series is underway, with four more events planned at the church through July 20.

Mohawk Trail Concerts Executive Artistic Director Mark Fraser, pictured with his cello outside the Charlemont Federated Church in 2021. The 54th annual concert series is underway, with four more events planned at the church through July 20. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

By ADA DENENFELD KELLY

For the Recorder

Published: 07-02-2024 9:49 AM

CHARLEMONT — Organizers of Mohawk Trail Concerts, a series now in its 54th season that continues through July 20, aim to make chamber music accessible for all.

“We just want to enjoy music and share it with as many people as possible,” said Mark Fraser, the series’ executive artistic director.

The first concert was held in 1970 and the series has returned every year since, with the exception of 2020, when the pandemic struck.

“I think this is gonna be one of our best seasons,” Fraser commented.

Fraser began working with Mohawk Trail Concerts in 2010 as a performer — Fraser is a classical cellist — and has since taken over as artistic director, a role he has filled for the past 10 years. His string trio, the Adaskin String Trio, performed alongside Sally Pinkas on piano as part of the series on June 29.

“I just love the interaction between the musicians, between the musicians and the audience, and between the musicians and the music,” Fraser said. “Those are three relationships that are always happening, they’re dynamic … and only live music captures that, and I think chamber music especially captures that.”

The 2024 series, which began on June 16 with a performance by New York-based pianist Sahun “Sam” Hong, has four more concerts in store this year. The concerts are held at the Charlemont Federated Church, 175 Main St.

“Every seat in the house has a really good view of the stage and excellent acoustics,” Fraser said, adding that the venue is accessible and has air conditioning.

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There is a suggested donation of $25, but Fraser stresses that cost should not be a barrier and everyone is welcome.

“Our concerts are designed to be informal. Like, classical music, sometimes people think, ‘Oh, I don’t want to go to a classical concert because I might clap at the wrong time or I might wear the wrong clothing …’ We really, really don’t want anyone to worry about those things,” he said. “Please come to the concerts. It’s not an exclusive club!”

The remaining concerts this summer are as follows:

■Thursday, July 4, at 5 p.m. — improvising pianist Mark Kelso (free concert).

■Saturday, July 6, at 5 p.m. — The Telegraph String Quartet, performing Beethoven, Dvorak and Kenji Bunch.

■Saturday, July 13, at 5 p.m. — Husband and wife duo Edward Arron, cellist, and Jeewon Park, pianist, performing Schumann, Rachmaninoff and de Falla.

■Saturday, July 20, at 5 p.m. — Soprano Maria Ferrante with violinist Masako Yanagita and pianist Jerry Noble, performing Ravel, Ippolitov-Ivanov and John Alden Carpenter.

For more information, visit mohawktrailconcerts.org.