Montclair Music Club’s classical music: intimate and rare
Montclair Music Club April meeting
Monday, April 8, 8 p.m.
Featuring pianist Dan Boscardin; double bassist Dr. Ken Bannerman and an ensemble of string players; soprano Iris Prcic
Visit Facebook.com/montclairmusicclub for more information, and location.
By GWEN OREL
The cookies are homemade. The cellist from Juilliard sits three feet away. You may know the double bass player, whose home you are in, as a local doctor.
The music resonates in the living room. No amplification is needed: the music is just feet away.
Montclair Music Club often performs its monthly concerts, held on the first Monday of the month, in private homes. Its next concert, on Monday, April 8, will be in the home of Dr. Kenneth Bannerman.
Montclair has a long history of musicians and artists who perform locally, whether or not
they earn their living at their art.
Bannerman performs with Montclair Orchestra. Laura Paparatto plays the flute with the Society of Musical Arts. Both also perform with Montclair Music Club, a nonprofit organization that presents monthly concerts, often at the homes of members.
The Club was founded in 1901.
Next Monday, the concert will take place at Bannerman’s home, and include Schubert’s “Trout” quintet (piano quintet in A major); pianist Dan Boscardin; and soprano Iris Prcic.
Each performer has impressive credits: Boscardin has a degree in music studies from William Paterson University, and accompanies the Dorchester Elementary School Children’s Choir, along with teaching piano. Prcic regularly performs with Le voci internazionali, and is a cantor at St. Valentine’s Church in Bloomfield. Bannerman studied bass at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.
The concert is free; donations are accepted for the MMC scholarship fund, which supports talented teenagers.
HISTORY AND MODULATION
The club’s long history “amazes me,” said Paparatto, who has been president of the group, on and off, since 1994. “When you think of it going through the Depression and the wars, it
just kept going on and on.
“It used to be predominantly women who were lovers of music and also players, classical players. It gave them an opportunity to come and play, and be with people that enjoy the music as well. It used to be stuffed shirts, white gloves, tea pouring.”
Originally, she explained, the club only included members who lived in Montclair, she said. While the group still performs in Montclair, it also includes musicians from the area.
Today, meetings are also often performed in the evenings, rather than as a daytime activity for women and people who did not work, and of course, the group includes more men.
In the past, the group held only two open concerts a year, at the Woman’s Club on Union Street. But now, Paparatto said, the group has been having many open concerts. The concert in May will be a fundraiser for the scholarship fund.
Members of the club are expected to perform within two years, and sign up for slots in June. Each person fills in a 20 minute slot, so each concert has a varied program.
“You don’t hear this music anymore,” Paparatto said. “You might go to a recital, and hear one person performing. Singers perform songs you won’t hear on the radio or in a large concert hall. It’s very intimate. It’s a rarity today, that you can hear this music for free.”
She pointed out that many members in the group are professional quality. French horn player Paul Erickson plays with many orchestras in the area, she said, adding “How often do you get to hear somebody play a French horn solo?”
A new member who plays the piano is an adjunct professor at Montclair State University, she said. The club also accepts non-performing associate members.
The group ranges in age from 23 to 83.
Clarissa Schoch is one of the oldest members. Last month, she performed poems of Emily Dickinson that had been set to music by various composers. One of the compositions was by the late George Walker, the Montclair resident and Pulitzer Prize winner recently honored by Montclair Orchestra.
Schoch, who has been in MMC almost 50 years, said she appreciates the friendships she’s made. “It’s a special organization,” she said.
STRETCHING TO PLAY
Bannerman loves hosting MMC meetings. “The walls are imbued with the music,” he said. Bannerman’s wife, a lawyer and pianist, supports the home concerts, Bannerman said, often feeding the musicians too: “I don’t think I could do this without her.”
Being in MMC, Bannerman said, “encourages me to do something I wouldn’t normally do, playing something that’s a stretch piece.”
Once, when he was working up a sonata, he took lessons for a few months. Pieces for MMC are not something he just takes off the shelf, he said: “I practice for the event. The bass can be fallow for quite awhile, then something comes up and I practice for that.”
Bannerman originally thought of getting a music degree while at Oberlin, but transferred to the College of Arts and Sciences, majoring in English, and taking premed classes.
But music always remained a big part of his life. In addition to MMC and Montclair Orchestra, he also performs with the Society of Musical Arts. The musicians he’s assembled to perform the Trout Quintet include performers from Juilliard and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.
He has been in the club for about 15 years.
Playing in a small group is completely different from performing with an orchestra, he said. MMC concerts are like a “Victorian night. People are there entertaining each other.”