OUT & ABOUT – Durham foundation offers annual classical concerts in farm setting 

DURHAM — For two weeks each June, Gastler Farm is filled with music as Kalmia Garden Music and Arts Foundation musicians perform six concerts for the community.

Since the inception of the series six years ago, founder Leah Gastler Mabbun has performed with friends — talented musicians that spend two weeks surrounded by the gardens at 159 Middlefield Road, practicing on weekdays and performing three times each weekend.

This weekend, violinists Evie Chen and Yena Lee, cellist Max Geissler and pianist Timothy Krippner will join Gastler Mabbun, on viola, for the second weekend of performances. They will perform Franz Schubert’s Quarettsatz in C Minor, D703, David Baker’s Roots II piano trio and Felix Mendelssohn’s String Quartet in A Minor.

“The audience loves these concerts because it’s up close and personal, it’s also really comfortable,” said Gastler Mabbun, a Durham native who currently lives in Houston, Texas.

An old farmhouse on the property was converted into a small music venue, able to hold about 55 people, for the performances.

“It’s a really, really close, intimate kind of setting and people love that...watching us perform and watching us really interact,” Gastler Mabbun said.

The performances usually center on classical music from a wide array of eras, but Gastler Mabbun said she hopes to expand the program to feature other arts. The foundation has already started featuring a visual artist.

“We’re trying to build this into a venue for artistic expression, in a really broad way,” she said.

The Coginchaug Valley Education Foundation helped get the program running, awarding grants in 2013 and 2015. The grants allowed the foundation not to charge admission right away and still pay the musicians a small stipend.

Tina Gossner, who was on the education foundation’s selection committee at the time, said the group was excited about the project because it epitomized the foundation’s mission of lifelong learning and was innovative and creative.

“Of the grants we’ve given, this was one of the ones we were super excited about,” Gossner said, who has attended many of the performances.

The musicians have come from all over the country and abroad, including New Zealand and Canada, and have all attended top music conservatories such as The Juilliard School and Yale School of Music. Gastler Mabbun studied viola at Bard College Conservatory, The Juilliard School and Rice University.

Property owner Timothy Gastler offers garden tours about an hour before each performance and a social hour follows the performances.

To learn more about this weekend’s performers, visit www.kalmiagardenmusicandarts.org. The concerts are Friday at 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday at 4 p.m. Tickets are $25 and available on the website.

Twitter: @baileyfaywright


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