SARANAC — In the beginning, J. Kellum Smith and Angela Brown sang in the choir at the Saranac United Methodist Church.

“We thought the acoustics of the church were so lovely, and the space was very beautiful,” said Brown, who co-founded Hill and Hollow Music with her late husband in 1995.

“It has a lot of wood, beautiful windows, high ceilings. We just thought it would be nice to produce some concerts in that lovely space.”



Recent transplants from New York City, where they were actively involved in music and the arts, they had a lot of contacts.

“Plus, I was teaching at Crane School of Music, where my colleagues there at Crane were good musicians,” Brown said.

“Our earliest concerts, which we started on a shoestring budget, were some of these friends of ours.”

They raided the talented faculty in New York City and places like Crane, University of Vermont, McGill University and SUNY Albany.

Hill and Hollow cast its net wider to attract touring ensembles with bigger names and working with artists' managers, agents and publicity people.

“It got kind of complicated, and it still is,” Brown said.

“Along the way, we started doing residencies because we acquired the old farmhouse next door that we fixed up and outfitted with a piano.

“We started having artists come not just for concerts, but to come for anywhere from two to five days ahead of the concert where they could give concerts and workshops in the schools in the three-county region, mostly Clinton County but also Essex and Franklin.”

Artists apply for a week, or two-week artist residency to prepare for a concert tour, a recording or break in a new ensemble member.

Hill and Hollow got very busy with this educational component as well as taking ensembles into senior residences such as Meadowbrook Healthcare and the Clinton County Nursing Home.

“We actually ran a parallel series at Lake Forest Living for a number of years,” Brown said.



Another high point was acquiring the Steinway piano, a nine-foot Steinway Model D, concert grand piano in 2003.

“It's like the Rolls Royce of pianos,” Brown said.

“Ben and Millie Davies were music educators living in Chazy. They were downsizing and moving to Lake Forest, and they contacted us and asked if we would like to buy their piano. They gave it to us at a very good price.”

The Steinway needed work.

“We put a lot into it to really bring it up to concert standards,” Brown said.

“It's a 1925 built Steinway. It comes from the Golden Age of the Steinway Company. It's a very fine instrument, and artists love to play it and it sounds fabulous. It rings.”



Hill and Hollow continues to engage artists and ensembles without a residency such as Sunday's program, “Chamber Music for Strings,” which features Arturo Delmoni, violin; Patricia McCarty, viola; Julia Lichten and David Geber, cellos, 3 p.m. at the Saranac Methodist Church.

“These artists are coming up from New York City where they all have very high-powered careers performing and teaching in conservatories in New York,” Brown said.

“Two of them are professors at Manhattan School of Music. They are all eminent soloists also. They are coming for this concert. It's not a residency. It's just an outright concert engagement.”

On Jan. 10, 2020, Hill and Hollow welcomes back Alexis Chartrand and Nicolas Babineau with dancer Mélissandre Tremblay-Bourassa for a “CD Launch Party ("un beau ptit son," a beautiful little sound) & Veillée” 7:30 p.m. at the Saranac Fire Hall.

“They are a duo, traditional French-Canadian music," Brown said.

"This will be their third residency.”

Hill and Hollow celebrates its 25th anniversary with a roster of world-famous artists. (SEE BOX)



Twenty-five years of Hill and Hollow Music programming passed in a flash

“I miss Kellum,” Brown said.

“I wished he had been here to see it. The board of directors are trying to figure out our plan moving forward and see if we can keep it going.”

When Hill and Hollow started in 1995, there were no other concert series happening within an hour to 90-minutes drive.

“Now, the landscape has changed,” Brown said.

“There is a lot going on all over the place. I still think we are the best. We hire really big-name artists. I think that's what set us apart. Plus, we have a beautiful venue with great acoustics and a fabulous piano. That also sets us apart."


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2019-2020 Hill and Hollow Music Season at a Glance

Sunday, November 3 – Chamber Music for Strings

Arturo Delmoni, violin; Patricia McCarty, viola; Julia Lichten and David Geber, cellos

Saranac Methodist Church – 3  p.m.

Friday, January 10, 2020 – CD Launch Party & veillée

Alexis Chartrand & Nicolas Babineau, fiddles, foot-percussion & guitar

with Mélissandre Tremblay-Bourassa, dancer

Saranac Fire Hall – 7:30 pm

Friday-Sunday, March 20-22, 2020 – Jazz at the Fire Hall

Sisters Ingrid Jensen, trumpet and Christine Jensen, alto sax;

Tim Collins, vibes; Marcos Varela, bass; Jon Wikan, drums;

with opening local ensemble Wickmoore Jazz Trio

Saranac Fire – Hall Friday-Saturday, March 20-21 at 7:30 p.m.– Sun, March 22 at 3 p.m.

Sunday, May 3, 2020 – Horszowski Trio

Rieko Aizawa, piano; Jesse Mills, violin; Raman Ramakrishnan, cello

Saranac Methodist Church – 3 p.m.

SUNDAY, June 7, 2020 – Krakauer-Tagg Duo

David Krakauer, clarinet & Kathleen Tagg, piano

Saranac Methodist Church – 4 p.m.

Thursday, July 23, 2020 – Meadowmount School advanced string student ensembles

Saranac Methodist Church – 7 p.m.

Sunday, August 16 – Dana Muller & Gary Steigerwalt

piano four-hands

Saranac Methodist Church – 4 p.m.

Sunday, October 4, 2020 – Alon Goldstein, piano

Mozart Piano Concerti (arr. Lachner) with string quartet & double bass

Saranac Methodist Church – 3 p.m.

Sunday, November 15, 2020 – Rebel Baroque Ensemble

Jörg-Michael Schwarz and Karen Marie Marmer, violins;

Matthias Maute, recorder, traverso; John Moran, viola da gamba, cello; Dongsok Shin, harpsichord

Saranac Methodist Church – 3 p.m.

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