A love of the arts is just one aspect of the Vineyard that sets it apart from other communities.
And on Saturday Islanders who love the arts will have the opportunity to attend a free concert titled Drops in the Stream: A Concert of Music, Poetry, and Dance. Performed by the Row Twelve Music Ensemble at the Chilmark Community Center. The concert is the brainchild of Chilmark resident Frederic Hotchkiss and the result of a community collaboration to bring a fusion of music and performing arts to the Vineyard.
The Row Twelve Music Ensemble was founded in 1987 by a group of musicians and performers to stage mixed programs of music, poetry, film and dance for audiences around New England. The ensemble includes bassist Andy Brewster, flutist Katherine Kleitz, pianist Marc Lauritsen, dancer Caryl Sickel and readers Judson Evans, Karen Henry and Anna Warrock. “These folks really are high caliber,” said Dr. Hotchkiss in a telephone interview on Wednesday.
Dr. Hotchkiss was introduced to the Row Twelve Ensemble through his wife, Anita. She and dancer Caryl Sickel met as faculty members at Fitchburg State College, and soon after the Hotchkisses began to attend local performances near their hometown of Harvard. When the couple retired to the Vineyard in 2004, they continued to travel back and forth to catch performances. They hoped someday to be able to share their favorite performers with their new community on the Island.
The opportunity came in June 2008 at a summer performance. “The ensemble does a beautiful garden concert at the flutist’s house in Stow,” said Dr. Hotchkiss. “We said, well, how about you come to the Island and do a concert?”
Ensemble members eagerly agreed to add a Vineyard performance to their tour schedule. It was too late to fit another concert into their 2008 schedule, so they decided to add an extra date to their fall 2009 tour. “So we’re benefitting from an extra performance,” said Dr. Hotchkiss this week.
They also agreed to hold the concert for free. “This is a real gift to the Island,” said Dr. Hotchkiss.
When Dr. Hotchkiss approached the Island community with the idea, he was well received. The Chilmark selectmen agreed to donate the use of the town community center for the free concert. The Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society offered to let the group use its piano. And generous Islanders offered to put up ensemble members in their homes. “This is a real collaboration between nonprofits on the Island,” said Dr. Hotchkiss, adding: “A lot of people are giving, giving, giving, to make this happen.”
The concert program includes classical and unconventional pieces. It opens with a musical performance of Bach’s Prelude, and continues with a poetry reading, a short film and a dance performance.
The concert is billed as a project by the Marine and Paleobiological Research Institute, with a theme of “linkages between performing arts and the sciences.” Dr. Hotchkiss has a background in marine biology, paleontology and earth sciences, but spent his career as a design engineer. Upon retiring, he formed the research institute, which he now runs out of his home in Vineyard Haven.
He also has a musical background and plays the recorder in more than one musical trio.
“A lot of people think that science is kind of by the book and . . . that there is not much creative about it,” he said. “That’s not really true. I see a link between the arts and the sciences.” He continued:
“All of our science is really based on a set of ideas that keep changing. You end up having to have some kind of new insight [to solve a problem]. Creativity is necessary in science.”
He currently holds lectures and visits classrooms to educate the public about his scientific research. But the concert will be the first attempt to reconcile his scientific interests with his passion for the arts in a public forum.
The Row Twelve performance begins at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow night at the community center. “It’s for everybody on the Vineyard,” said Dr. Hotchkiss. “The more who want to come, the better.”