Strathmore at Osher Series Brings Music to Students
Through December, the Music Center at Strathmore is presenting a six-week course to Osher Lifelong Learning Institute members. Each class session is a mini-concert, featuring one or more musicians, and a question-and-answer period moderated by Eliot Pfanstiehl, founder and chief executive of Strathmore Hall Foundation.
The mini-concerts are meant to be an intriguing and informative look into traditional musical styles such as classical cello, as well as various forms of jazz and vocal percussion.
Hopkins Happenings asked Pfanstiehl to tell us more about the Strathmore at Osher series. (Osher is a non-credit academic and social program for retired and semi-retired adults, with more than 700 members at the Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus.)
Hopkins Happenings: Tell us about the Strathmore at Osher series.
Pfanstiehl: This is Strathmore’s fourth season of presenting Artists in Residence from Strathmore. These talented and promising musicians are spending a year with Strathmore not only performing and working with mentors, but taking lessons in marketing, show presentation, taxes for self-employed artists and resume building. Each is paired with an experienced professional musician to “show them the ropes" of making it in the commercial world. Each year, we bring six of our graduates to Osher for questions and performances in a 90-minute, always lively session of give and take moderated by me and Strathmore President Monica Jeffries Hazangeles. Osher Director Mary Kay Shartle Galotto was a proud member of the Board of Directors of Strathmore for nine years and invited us to curate this series when she left the Board.
Hopkins Happenings: Who are the featured musicians this year, and what genres do they represent? How were they selected?
Pfanstiehl: All are selected through a juried system of applications, interviews and auditions. This year, the artists are:
- Deborah Bond - singer
- The Bumper Jacksons – clarinet, horns, fiddles and more
- Kimberly Kong - pianist
- Ted Garber - singer songwriter
- Griff Kazmierczak - violin and trumpet
- Seth Kibel - clarinet and saxophone and an adjunct faculty member with the JHU Peabody Institute
Hopkins Happenings: What do you hope Osher members learn from this course?
Pfanstiehl: We listen to the musicians play and the talk about their lives, their motivations, and the endless trials and tribulations of making their living in the world of music. The Osher members learn about various musical instruments and genres of music they may never have encountered before while gaining a heightened appreciation of the hard work young artists must do to cross into the professional ranks of their careers.
Hopkins Happenings: When you gave your introductory remarks during the first class session, you mentioned this series is your “favorite thing to do all year,” and that musicians are akin to angels on earth. Can you elaborate on both of those sentiments?
Pfanstiehl: From my youngest years in a very musical family and throughout my early career at Round House Theatre and Strathmore, I see the magic of music transform the hearts and lives of children and seniors alike almost every day. And the musicians who produce such ethereal sounds are, to me, angelic in nature, fairly floating a few inches off the ground. When they perform, it is as if they are tapping into a cosmic melody unheard by the rest of us, then transposing it into earthly music which uplifts and elevates our souls. A gifted musician is not just technically proficient, they are magically inspired. Their gifts speak to all of us in ways language never will.
Hopkins Happenings: What should the JHU community know about Strathmore?
Pfanstiehl: Right here in Osher’s community, the Music Center at Strathmore presents more than 160 performances a year. With resident groups including the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, National Philharmonic, Washington Performing Arts, Levine School of Music, CityDance and Strathmore Arts, this 2,000 seat hall and education center serves more than 700 students a week and 250,000 patrons a year. The century-old Strathmore Mansion serves as the home of our visual arts exhibition galleries, magnificent gift shop, and unique Strathmore Tea Room. The 16 acres of land and gardens host a free summer series of outdoor concerts for 1,200 people every Wednesday night on the front lawn in the Gudelsky Pavilion; six weeks of childrens’ outdoor summer shows on the Backyard Theatre Stage; and acres of quiet walkways, outdoor sculpture and a 5,000-person natural amphitheater.