Thursday, 12 July 2018 17:53

Pierre Monteux School turns 75 Featured

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HANCOCK - For 75 years, there has been music in the air in Hancock.

A famous French-born conductor moved to the area and in 1943 started a summer school for conductors and orchestra musicians.

"This fabulous school was started 75 years ago by Pierre Monteux, a very famous French conductor who lived in Maine," said Phil Devenish, president of the Pierre Monteux School.

"The mission is to give conductors a place to study that's kind of devoid of all the distractions of the life we usually face, which is extremely busy," said Tiffany Lu, conducting associate and prior student. "And to come here to the middle of Maine and have a chance to really work with really great musicians and be part of an orchestra at the same time."

Every June, string, woodwind, brass and percussion musicians converge on the little town of Hancock to spend six weeks learning all they can about being part of a large orchestra or leading the group. They study under 23-year veteran maestro Michael Jimbo, who is the third music director for the school, after Monteux himself and his replacement Charles Bruck.

"With an orchestra of 62 students this year, 17 of whom are conductors with positions all over the country and students from eight countries all over the world," Devenish said.

For the next three weeks, there will be two weekly performances, 5 p.m. Sunday night symphony concerts, and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night "Maine chamber music." For information about what is on the play list, go to the school's website, monteuxschool.org.

The annual children's concert was held Wednesday and included music composed by an alumnus.

"I have written a piece especially for our children's concert and it's called 'Carnival of the Animals: Maine Edition,'" said William White, alumnus and composer in residence. "So we got this group of pieces all based on animals along the Maine coast."

Those musical pieces featured puffins, moose, mosquitos and others.

Monteaux met Hancock-native Doris Hodgkins, a dancer, while in France and they retired in her childhood home.

"She built this school for him as a surprise, as a present. Because she knew he wanted to give back to young musicians," White said. "So the school was erected in 1943 and it's been going ever since then."