The following article appeared in the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Thursday, July 5, 2011.
Northampton’s Christ Methodist Church offers eclectic Rocky Hill concert series
By Liliana P. Farrell
Gazette Contributing Writer
Gretchen Saathoff, the new director of music at the Christ Methodist Church, is pioneering a concert series this summer with a breadth of performances.
“There’s no overarching theme,” Saathoff said. “I wanted to ensure that there would be a wide variety of music, different styles.” Performers include a social justice band, traditional jazz musicians, a 16-year-old harpist and Saathoff herself, playing classical piano.
Saathoff began her position at the church in January, after The Rev. Bruce Arbour encouraged her to apply.
“I feel like I’ve been training for this my entire life,” Saathoff said. Her father is a minister and she received a master’sdegree in 1981 in vocal coaching and collaborative piano from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, N.J. “It’s an internal connection that religion, spirituality and music are pretty much unexplainable.”
Each concert in the series will be held on a Sunday at 4 p.m.
“It’ll give people time to go to church and then have time to go to a museum or go for a walk, but it gets them home early enough to get ready for Monday morning,” she said.
The first concert on Sunday features Red Valley Fog, a group that performs folk songs that promote social justice. Among their repertoire are covers of Greg Brown’s “Canned Goods” and Phil Och’s “Love Me, I’m a Liberal,” a satire of an over-the-top liberal attitude. Red Valley Fog’s version has been updated to include mentions of the parody newspaper, The Onion, and conservative radio commentatorGlenn Beck.
For Saathoff’s performance on July 15, she’s planned a program of works by composers that range from George Gershwin to Bach to Katerina Stamatelos, a Greek composer Saathoff “met” on Twitter. She’ll also perform a work by Olivier Massiaen, a French organist (1908-1992) who had synesthesia, a neurological condition that mixes up the senses.
“He would hear a note and see a color,” Saathoff said.
Local musicians Bob Sparkman and Jerry Noble will perform on July 22, playing clarinet and piano, respectively. “They’re wonderful,” Saathoff said. “They’ve been playing together since 1995.”
The final performance on July 29, will be by Anna DeLoi. The 16-year-old classical harpist has been featured twice on NPR and was named an “arts leader” by the radio show ,”From the Top.”Originally from the Czech Republic, she lives in New Hampshire.
Each concert will be followed by a reception, and a meet-and-greet with the musicians. Suggested donation: $10at the door. For information, visit rockyhillconcerts.wordpress.com.
Check out the track “Come Winter” by Red Valley Fog when you click this link: http://www.myspace.com/redvalleyfog/music/songs/come-winter-81773848