a brief History
It has been said, "it is hard to remember that events now long in the past were once in the future." That is certainly true of the remarkable group of world-class musicians who comprise the North Country Chamber Players. Certainly it is difficult to fathom how this group of classical instrumentalists brought together by an ambitious, yet failing music and arts festival for "city folk on vacation in the country," was co-opted by "country folk with city culture" to become an arts treasure of rural Northern New Hampshire.
Ambitious and talented young musicians rarely move directly into major ensembles or orchestras. They have to develop their talents and gain experience "on the road." Thus it was that the White Mountains Music Festival, with big city management and artistic direction, tried to establish itself in Jefferson, New Hampshire at the once posh Waumbeck Resort Hotel site. Local residents, with a classical taste, were attracted to the performances, but not welcomed as participating management. Without local roots, the venture was doomed to failure.
Happily, several of the talented young players were attracted to the beauty of the region and to the sincere friendliness of native and longtime resident audience members. Two of these individuals; Sherman Adams, former governor of the state; and Dorothy Guider, widow of radio and television station owner/operator, John Guider, opened their homes and their hearts to the young musicians. "Sherm and Dorothy" envisioned a group playing concerts for adults and for children as well. 1978 marked the first summer concert performed at the Sugar Hill Meeting House.
In succeeding years, the North Country Chamber Players began to present multi-week concerts in Sugar Hill and surrounding communities, as well as joint performances with local choral groups. By l98l, local instrumental students began to receive tutorials. Theme gala dinners began with "Rossini and Linguine" as the first. By l985, the summer festival had expanded to four weeks and a second regular venue, Governor Adams Base Lodge in Lincoln, was added. The same program was presented twice as audiences continued to grow.
The success of the Chamber Players was noted by the New York Times in l986, and the influence of the mountains motivated these classical musicians to offer "blue grass music and song" at a barbecue benefit. By their l0th anniversary, the North Country Chamber Players was considered a musical jewel in the crown of New Hampshire. They were celebrated at the Annual New Hampshire Business Council for the Arts banquet. The following year, the Players performed for a joint session of the New Hampshire Legislature at the State Capitol.
In the l990’s, the Players gave concerts in widely dispersed towns and villages of New Hampshire and Vermont, even playing in hospitals and factories. They offered creative programs such as "Mozart, Great Minds and Music" enlisting leading scholars, composers and conductors to participate. "The Nightingale" was co-produced with the Starbird Puppet Theater, and "Carnival of the Animals" featuring ice cream moguls, Ben & Jerry, as narrators was recorded.
The Chamber Players participated in the Carnegie Hall outreach to youth in New York City, and they presented a series of performances celebrating the Centennial of the MacDowell Colony in Cornish, NH. In l997, the Players commissioned an original work, "Northern Light Electric," composed by Dartmouth College music scholar, Paul Maravec. It was performed by the Ballet of New England.
The 20th anniversary was celebrated with a return of Ben & Jerry and their narration of the "Carnival of the Animals." The Players also partnered with the Weathervane Theater to present a stage performance of Stravinsky’s "Soldier’s Tale." The following year, the Bread and Puppet Theater of Vermont joined the Chamber Players in performing Bruce Adolphe’s version of "Little Red Riding Hood."
The Chamber Players welcomed the Twenty-First Century by presenting the award-winning composer and legendary tango pianist Pablo Ziegler. He came to the White Mountains from his native Argentina to perform music especially selected for this program titled, "Tango Romance." He returned in 2002 with jazz legend, Branford Marsalis, to perform a spectacular program of tangos with the complete ensemble of Chamber Players. In 2006, the NCCP again collaborated with Pablo Zeigler to present Nuevo Tango - a synthesis of classical tango with modern jazz - at Bethlehem's Colonial Theater in a concert which delighted an audience of over three-hundred people.
During the course of this first quarter century of performances, the Players have endeared themselves to residents and visitors of the White Mountains. They have mentored and tutored a generation of youthful players some of whom are now grown and earning a living in the music world either as educators or performers.