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Published on Sep 5, 2013
While searching for new composers to commission, our clarinetist Nick Gallas suggested Lembit Beecher and described his work And Then I Remember, based on stories told by the composer's grandmother. This gave us the idea for the "Memory Project," three pieces we would commission based on memories told to us and the composers in interviews with our audiences at Bayside Senior Center, Elm-Cor Senior Center in Elmhurst and seniors at the Salvation Army in Jackson Heights. We matched each composer to a group of seniors: Lembit with the folks at Bayside, Carl MaultsBy with the seniors at Elm-Cor and Lev "Ljova" Zhurbin with the seniors in Jackson Heights.
The Quintet received a Chamber Music America Residency grant for the Quintet's activities, and the project was launched in the fall of 2012. The Quintet introduced the concept by playing concerts of music important to each Quintet member. This was followed by meetings at each center with the composers and Quintet members interviewing the seniors. We made a video so pictures of the seniors could be used to accompany the new works. These seniors had heard the Quintet perform many times but now we had a chance to get to know their stories!
The seniors' interest in inter-generational projects inspired us to expand the project into the Renaissance Charter School in Jackson Heights and the Langston Hughes Library after-school program. We performed concerts and held workshops with the students on composition. Ljova has written us a new piece to perform with students in Jackson Heights and the students in the afterschool program made instruments and composed pieces to perform on our concert at Langston Hughes Library.
The composers have finished the new works and we were thrilled to be premiering them at each center. See Concerts for details. As a result of the interviews, we have developed a stronger bond with our special audience of seniors. They, in turn, have had the opportunity to form a bond with a composer. They are as excited as we are to hear the new works, "their new works".