Moonlight Duo Performs for Seniors at Chelsea at Montville
Montville musician shares history of unknown cello and piano pieces during final performance.
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In honor of Women’s History Month March 2013, the Moonlight Duo (Karen Pinoci, cello and Montville resident Claudia Lemmerz, piano) presented a special concert for the seniors at The Chelsea at Montville. Entitled HERstory the concert program listed only music by women composers from Germany, England and the US. The Moonlight Duo, founded in 2005, loves to go treasure hunting for lost and forgotten music. During their concerts, Claudia and Karen share their research with their audiences. Talking about the composers’ lives and their music creates an immediate connection between the audience and the music performed. The Moonlight Duo displays posters for each composer as you can see in the photo.
HERstory is a collection of unknown pieces for cello and piano. The Intermezzo by Katherine Lucke (1875-1962) is the Moonlight Duo’s very special treasure find. The musicians came across a different piece by Katherine Lucke in an old, out of print cello collection. Finding out that Katherine Lucke was a faculty member at the Peabody Conservatory, cellist Karen Pinoci contacted the Archives at the Peabody Conservatory Library and could schedule a visit. The Moonlight Duo’s musicians went on a treasure hunt. Being able to look through 7 boxes of Katherine Lucke’s personal teaching materials, Karen and Claudia found a concert program which listed the “Intermezzo for Cello and Piano”. This piece was not listed in Lucke’s list of collected works. The archivist searched the title in the computer and up came an estate which had just come into the library and was being processed. In it was the manuscript of the “Intermezzo”. What a treasure! Karen and Claudia had to wait a few days before a copy of the manuscript was mailed to them. With the permission of the Peabody Conservatory Library Archive the Moonlight Duo has added this piece as a special treat to their HERstory program.
Clara Mathilda Faisst (1872-1948), a German composer and pianist from Karlsruhe, never got married. When she passed away, her apartment had to be cleaned out and all her belongings ended up in a dumpster. Many of her compositions are lost. Pianist Claudia Lemmerz, born and raised in Germany, found letters from Clara Faisst addressed to Albert Schweizer. She translated them to share with the audience. They give an interesting insight into Clara’s life. March 1939 “I will never forget the night, when you came to visit and I could share my songs with you…it was such an encouragement and confirmation for my work. I will always be thankful for that night…I have built a small audience, which I invite to concerts at my house once a month...” Jan. 1948 “…we went through misery and death for years. Miraculously I survived without bigger health issues…I was able to continue my music, despite all the bombings and destruction. My house stayed untouched in between all the ruins. I could give house concerts, which people were starving for… I hope this letter will not take long to get to you. Gratefully keeping fond memories, Clara Faisst”.
Amy Marcy Cheney Beach (1867-1944), pianist and composer was born in New England. She was a child protégée and giving public concerts at the age of 7. At the age of 18, she married Dr. Henry Harris Aubrey Beach, a Boston surgeon, who was 24 years older than she. He was actually older than her own father. She agreed to limit performances to one public recital a year. Following her husband’s wishes, she devoted herself to composing music only. When her husband died in 1910, Amy Beach finally broke free and toured Europe as a pianist at the age of 43, playing her own compositions. She was determined to establish a reputation both as a performer and a composer.
Katherine Hoover, flutist and composer, lives in New York City and just recently celebrated her 75th birthday. She is a personal friend of cellist Karen Pinoci. During a visit in 2007, Katherine shared a new piece called “Tango” with Karen. Ms. Hoover had just finished this piece for bass flute and piano. Realizing that it would also be perfect for cello, she rewrote the piece for cello and piano and gave it to the Moonlight Duo with the permission to perform it in concerts.
May Mukle, cellist and composer (1880-1963) and Rebecca Clarke, violinist and composer (1886-1979) were both from England and studied at the Royal College of Music in London. Pianist Claudia Lemmerz came across the two composers on the internet when she discovered a CD “A Cello Century of British Women Composers” recorded in 2000 by British cellist Catherine Wilmers. Claudia was able to get in touch with Mrs. Wilmers and they ended up sharing treasure of unknown women composers for cello and piano. Claudia discovered interesting connections between the 2 composers. Rebecca Clarke’s life story reads like a novel. At the age of 17 she started to study violin at the Royal Academy of Music in London. 2 years later in 1903 her father suddenly withdrew her from her studies, when her harmony teacher Percy Miles proposed marriage. In 1905 Rebecca continued her studies at the Royal College of Music, took composition classes and switched to the viola. Again she was unable to finish her studies as her father suddenly threw her out of house. To support herself, Rebecca Clarke played every job she could get. In 1912 she became one of the first female musicians in the fully professional and formerly strictly male Queen’s Hall Orchestra. In 1916 she moved to the United States and played concerts all over the globe. With cellist May Mukle, she performed extensively in Hawaii in 1918-1919 and on a world tour of the British colonies in 1923. With the onset of World War II, Rebecca Clarke found herself back in the US, living with her brothers and their families. She stopped composing and performing in 1942 when she accepted a position as a nanny in Connecticut. In 1944 she met James Friskin, a member of the piano department at the Julliard School of Music, whom she had first known as a student at the Royal College of Music in London. They got married the same year, both 58 years old and settled in New York City. At that time Clarke composed “I’ll Bid My Heart Be Still” which is the piece the Moonlight Duo presented in their concert program HERstory. One can hear that Clarke finally was at peace and found what she had been searching for all her life. Clarke wrote only one more song in 1954 “God Made a Tree” which was published long after her death in 2002. Rebecca Clarke had inherited a Stradivarius violin from Percy Miles, the gentleman who had proposed to her in 1903. She finally sold the instrument and with that money started the May Mukle prize at the Royal Academy of Music in London, an award which is still given to an outstanding cello student every year.
The last piece on the HERstory program is a Sicilienne by pianist and composer Maria Theresia von Paradis (1759-1824). It is said that Mozart and Joseph Haydn wrote piano concertos for her. Ms. von Paradis was blind from the age of 2 and fortunate to have had tremendous support to bloom as a musician in her life. In her teens she was treated by a Dr. Mesmer from whom we get the word mesmerized. Through hypnosis he was able to temporarily bring her sight back. In her later years she started a school for handicapped girls.
As an encore the Moonlight Duo presented “Stokes Forrest Stroll: A Country Waltz” written by cellist Karen Pinoci especially for the HERstory program. Remembering family hikes in her childhood, this piece shares personal emotions about life and memories, which many song writers use as inspiration for their music.
After the concert one of the residents at the Chelsea came up to the musicians and told them, that her daughter is working as a pianist in Paris, France, for a long time now. During the Moonlight Duo’s concert she felt so connected to her daughter although she hadn’t seen her perform in a very long time. Music connects lives!
The concert at The Chelsea at Montville was the last time the Moonlight Duo is performing HERstory. Since February 2012 the duo has performed HERstory in 30 concerts in public libraries, the Macculloch Hall Museum in Morristown, two weeks ago and in many nursing homes and senior living facilities. These senior concerts are sponsored by Moonlight Serenade Inc., a local non-profit organization with the mission to enrich the lives of seniors and people with disabilities by bringing professional performances of fine classical music TO them.
Moonlight Serenade Inc. is seeking support from foundations, corporations and individuals to send out 3 duos (cello/piano, voice/guitar, flute/harp) to perform for seniors in northern New Jersey.
For more information about Moonlight Serenade Inc. visit their website.