Quartet coming to Saranac Lake Saturday

The Strings and Things “An Evening with Schubert, Ives and Mendelssohn” will come to St. Luke’s Church Saturday. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

If you go…

What: Strings and Things classical concert

Where: St. Luke’s Church, 136 Main St., Saranac Lake

When: March 3 at 8 p.m.

How much: Ticket donations start at $10; $30 is the suggested donation

SARANAC LAKE — On a motorcycle trip to Eastport, Maine, John Vallini met Consuelo Sherba at a bed and breakfast last summer. She told him about a Mozart concert she was performing in later that week.

“I was supposed to leave on Saturday morning, heading up to Nova Scotia,” Vallini said. “Lousy weather kept me, and I’m so glad it did.”

Vallini thought the concert was so incredible that he wanted to bring that level of musical performance to the Adirondacks.

St. Luke’s Church will host the concert titled, “An Evening with Schubert, Ives and Mendelssohn” Saturday at 8 p.m.

Tickets start at a donation of $10 with a suggestion of $30, and can be purchased at Ampersound, the Shamrock Grill and at the door.

After the show in Eastport, Vallini asked Sherba if she would consider playing a show in Saranac Lake.

“Where’s Saranac Lake?” she asked.

And from that, Strings & Things was born.

“Strings & Things is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promotion and production of music in the northern Adirondacks centered around Saranac Lake,” according to its website. “Emphasis will be placed on concerts and workshops given by established professionals within their area of expertise.”

The concert’s three featured composers and their work span more than 100 years.

Though appreciated by only a small community of friends and acquaintances, Austrian composer Franz Schubert is now known as one of the key bridges between the Classical and Romantic eras of music with some of his most well-known pieces being “Ave Maria” and “Erlkonig.”

Charles Ives, the most recent of the featured composers, was also unappreciated during his lifetime in the early 20th century. As one of the first American composers to gain international fame, Ives’s work stands out because it sounds rather experimental, and certain aspects are not supposed to be perfect and angelic like that of his predecessors. He embraced human flaws and structured chaos.

German composer Felix Mendelssohn is known widely for his incidental music, pieces that accompany visual performances. Nowadays people tend to call them film or TV scores. Any western wedding in real life or in film will feature Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March,” not to be confused with “Here comes the bride.”

Concert musicians Consuelo Sherba (Aurea Ensemble), Katherine Winterstein (Hartt String Quartet), Emmanuel Feldman (Boston Modern Orchestra Project) and Andrew Eng (A Far Cry Chamber Orchestra) will helm the performance. The four will play Schubert’s “Quartetsatz,” Ives’s “String quartet no. 1” and Mendelssohn’s “String quartet no. 2, op. 13.”

Sherba will also host a musical workshop for participants of all ages Friday at 3:30 p.m. at St. Luke’s Church.

Back in the 18th and 19th centuries, symphony and orchestral pieces were the popular music at the time. Nowadays that type of music tends to wrongfully get thrown into a niche category for rich people and fights scenes in Star Wars movies.

“I think it’s considered to be highbrow and snobby,” Vallini said, “and it’s not. A lot of the musicians, who created some of the classic stuff, they weren’t wealthy. They were making their way while they were making their music.”

Growing up in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, Vallini used to play drums in a few rock bands and still taps along to a good beat, but doesn’t consider himself a musician or a composer. He’s really just a music lover.

“Music’s been a big part of my life since I was a kid,” Vallini said. “My father was a big band drummer in the 30s and 40s.”

His mother would also sing all day as she worked around the house, and his great-aunt would often take him to musicals on Broadway.

When it comes to classical music like the concert on Saturday, Vallini said he enjoys the complexity of the pieces.

“To think that somebody could sit down and think this stuff up and write out the music,” he said, “it lets you know what geniuses these people are.”

He also finds classical chamber music relaxing.

“When I listen to rock or jazz,” he said, “I want to get up and dance, but when I get into bed at night, I flip on a cello piece. It’s always cello music.”

This concert is just the beginning for Vallini and Strings and Things. He hopes to get enough positive feedback from Saturday’s show to potentially host more concerts and develop and full calendar of live performances for Saranac Lake. They all wouldn’t be exhibitions on classical music. One would showcase bluegrass, another jazz and a final one blues. He also hopes to start a music summer camp at some point in the future.

“I’ve lived in this community for the past 28 years,” Vallini said, “and they’ve been the best 28 year of my life. I’d love to give something back”

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