By Leonard Matczynski, Director
Apple Hill exists to create, perform, and teach chamber music at the highest standard, broaden the appreciation of chamber music through the development of educational programs, and cultivate connection and understanding among people of diverse backgrounds and cultures through the Playing for Peace™ program.
Founded in the early 1970's, Apple Hill is a center of high-level classical music performance and teaching, stewarded today by the organization's Director, Leonard Matczynski, and ensemble-in-residence, the Apple Hill String Quartet. This group of professional musicians presents concerts throughout the world and, for three months of the summer, teaches and coaches chamber music to participants of all ages and levels at Apple Hill’s beautiful facility in the Monadnock region in Southern New Hampshire.
In the early days of Apple Hill, the founding Apple Hill musicians developed a teaching and performing philosophy that exists today: that everyone is accepted for who they are at any level, that every person has an expressive voice to be heard, and that every participant deserves to be encouraged and supported equally. This unique philosophy of communal support has since inspired musicians of all ages and levels to learn from one another, to find their expressive voice at Apple Hill, and to share this voice with others in chamber music. Generations of participants, old and young, take this core philosophy home with them and keep this special place in the hills of Nelson NH close to their heart. Participants are also drawn to the warm family atmosphere of Apple Hill, where musicians, staff, their spouses and children share meals, chores and social events, creating a unique musical and human community.
Apple Hill invites audiences to share its music and its spirit with a number of concert events: a local series during the concert season in historic New Hampshire towns, and two summer series: Tuesday evening concerts from mid-June through mid-August featuring Apple Hill’s renowned summer faculty and, once the intensive daily coaching sessions are finished, participant concerts on weekends. Audiences share in the collaboration - hearing performances of chamber music full of insight, wonder, and discovery played with love, passion, and joy.
The summer program expanded its reach after Apple Hill first toured the Middle East in 1988. Apple Hill performed concerts, workshops and master classes, and awarded scholarships to talented young Israeli and Palestinians to attend Apple Hill and play chamber music together. This marked the beginning of what is now the organization's signature program Playing for Peace™ and for 20 years, one musician at a time, Apple Hill has quietly conducted a peaceful revolution that began with a suggestion that Apple Hill coach ensembles of young Arabs and Israelis. Playing for Peace™ is considered a unique model for cultural exchange which promotes friendship, peace, understanding, and basic human contact between people, in this case musicians, in areas of the world beleaguered by irreconcilable conflict. Thegoal for this program is to offer the participants a unique opportunity to transcend national and cultural boundaries and differences and create meaningful bonds of friendship and understanding while participating in an exceptional pedagogical program. Today Playing for Peace™ has expanded to include over 25 countries in Europe, the Middle East, and Malaysia, including Russia, Iraq, Israel and Palestine, Turkey, Jordan, both communities of Cyprus, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia, England, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, and a host of others. Due to the success of the international Playing for Peace™ program, a domestic initiative was established to bring participants together from rural and urban United States communities to Apple Hill. Apple Hill has formed partnerships with music programs in Boston, Dallas, San Francisco, Baltimore/Washington DC metro area, Memphis, Providence, and Los Angeles. Through scholarship programs with these organizations, Apple Hill extends musical coaching and mentorship to inner-city minority students. Summer participants now arrive from around the world and every US state to make music with each other in an atmosphere that promotes creativity and understanding through excellence in musicianship.
Due to its passionate commitment to learning and understanding through the language of music, Apple Hill has had a profound effect on the lives of many. With Apple Hill approaching its 40 year anniversary, many early participants are now using Apple Hill’s unique philosophy and the Playing for Peace™ model in their regions and countries, and a new generation of musicians is discovering Apple Hill.