Hopkins Center for the Performing Arts at Dartmouth College

For a number of years in the mid- and late 1960s, the Hop hosted a summer Congregation of the Arts, which featured summer theatre programs, a festival orchestra and resident chamber ensembles that performed works by distinguished contemporary composers invited to residencies, exhibitions of works by artists-in-residents, and special film series. The Hop earned a reputation as a venue friendly to contemporary music that persisted for nearly two decades. (Wikipedia)

Welcome to this unofficial wiki on Dartmouth's Congregation of the Arts (1963-1969). Although the Congregation’s music director, Mario di Bonaventura, was from Dartmouth College’s music department, most of the students came from other institutions, including many of the top music schools in the nation (see sidebar). As noted in a newspaper at the time, Dartmouth hosted a feast for the mind and senses:


"It was a busy week at the Dartmouth’s Hopkins Center, as the college’s Congregation of the Arts rounded out the fifth of its eight weeks of music, drama, cinema, and graphic arts. For the eye, there is a new exhibit of Danish abstract paintings, for there was on Sunday night the last of a group of concerts honoring the American visit of the 82 year old Hungarian composer, Zoltan Kodaly, and for both there was Moliere’s Tartuffe…” Montreal Gazette (August 6, 1965).

Perhaps because of Bonaventura’s stature as a conductor and musician, music was the biggest draw for the Congregation of the Arts, and he succeeded in recruiting notable composers from both the Old World and the New World (see sidebar). Not only did the students have opportunities to rub shoulders with this distinguished faculty, but they were able to play music side by side with top notch musicians from around the globe. While it is tempting to dismiss this remarkable era at Dartmouth as a flash in the pan, and perhaps just an anomoly of the 60’s, the Congregation of the Arts continues to reverberate over almost half a century. Several of the participating students have gone on to successful careers as composers, musicians and teachers, and their recollections about their experience reveal its lasting influence on their lives:

I was at Dartmouth two summers, 1968, 1969. I studied with the great Robert Willoughby, flutist, teacher at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in those days. He is now 91 living in New Castle, NH and still teaching at the Longy School in Boston.

There were six student flutists there each summer including: Joyce Catalfano (retired from WV University); Adrienne Greenbaum (Mt. Holyoke College), Kazuo Takito (Piccolo in the Phil. Orch); Lyn Mayfield (Houston Sym. for years) and others. We traded off playing in the orchestra with Mr. Willoughby playing principal. Composers were Luigi Dalapiccolo, Ginastera, Penerecki, Easley Blackwood (Willoughby premiered a piece for flute and harpsichord, with Blackwell at the piano and I turned pages). Willoughby also premiered his flute concerto and I believe the Ballade by Frank Martin at the piano.

I could probably provide more information if needed. I saved programs from the two summers I was there. I loved it. The atmosphere was great, the teaching fabulous, the place, gorgeous with wonderful faculty and students. Those 16 weeks changed my life very positively!


I loved it as did all my peers that summer
A wonderful mix of conservatory/young professional musicians in the orchestra with established well known players playing first chair of each section.
I was from the New England Conservatory of Music.
Other young players were from Manhattan School of Music and Juilliard as well as other music schools from around the country.
Legendary horn player Barry Tuckwell was the faculty horn player. I got to study and play with him that summer.
The big blow for the summer was Mahler 2nd Symphony. (One of the organ keys got stuck and a note kept sounding at the end of the piece..kind of ruined some of the mood…)
Many of us watched the first moon landing/walk projected in the main hall of Hopkins Center
I remember Luigi Dallapiccola being present and some visual artist as well...
Wonderful interaction between young professionals and famous artists.We used to go swimming regularly with Tuckwell in Vermont and he held quite a few barbecues for us as well.
A good things all the way around both artistically and personally…

Courtesy of Richard Van Kleeck

...very few if any of the participants were from Dartmouth because the school did not have a sophisticated conservatory type of instrumental training program. The year I participated (summer 1968), the Congregation of the Arts was not a gathering of specific colleges or universities, but rather a program of orchestral and vocal apprenticeships. Interested student participants were selected by auditions held throughout the country by the conductor, Mario di Bonaventura. While the program bore some similarity to Tanglewood it was more of a hands on side-by-side mentor/apprenticeship concept.

The "draw" was the overall concept of the festival (an opportunity to work with a section principal who was a real master musician as well as an opportunity to perform interesting traditional, key early 20th century works, and newer compositions for orchestra.

A cross-section of the student musicians I recall having performed: Ron Barron, later principal trombonist of the Boston Symphony, David Hoose, later french hornist of the Emmanuel Wind Quintet and presently Director of orchestral studies at Boston University as well as Cantata Singers, Boston. The orchestra was a high calibre organization. If you are able to get your hands on programs from those years (probably on inter-library loan from Dartmouth) you can see the mix of names....Students came from Juilliard, University of Illinois, New England Conservatory of Music, Peabody, Curtis, Indiana University. I had just graduated from the University of Miami.

As for faculty, there was a tremendous mix of greats, for ex. Concertmaster Salvatore Accardo, the Italian Paganini virtuoso; Principal Oboist, the late Alfred Genovese, whose career spanned key chairs in both the Metropolitan Opera as well as the Boston Symphony. Barry Tuckwell (phenomenal British french hornist and teacher), etc.

Still living in Paris is Noel Lee, the American expatriate pianist known for his recording of John Field's music and other important works. He returned for numerous years and was a close colleague of the late Louise Vosgerchian (a Boulanger protege who taught for many years at Harvard.

During my summer at Dartmouth (1968), the composers included Alberto Ginastera (I translated occasionally English/Spanish between the composer and Maestro Di Bonaventura. Our orchestra performed one of Ginastera's piano concerti with Anthony DiBonaventura as soloist (a very fine musician, brother of the conductor).

Walter Piston was there for a week (he sat quietly in the house and listened as we rehearsed his piece, making rare comments...I had no interactions whatsoever with him); Niels Viggo Bentzen, Danish composer and pianist, Andrew Imbrie (west coast/UCLA, composer, deceased). There was a week-long festival of Viennese music by Webern, Zemlinsky and Mahler including a taste of little known ravishingly beautiful vocal works of von Zemlinsky and Alma Mahler featuring Diana Hoagland an amazing soprano during those years.


I was a participant in the summers of 68 and 69.
There were principals players from NYC.
Barry Tuckwell played one summer and was wonderful.
There were visiting professor/performers. One was Easley Blackwell, a great contemporary pianist from Chicago (I think) The lectures were great.
I was a student at University of Connecticut.
I remember also a bassoonist Mary Drake from Norwalk CT.
A flute player came from Harvard, where she was studying musicology....
last name Gargarlionos (sp?). greek name...
I remember Genevese and his brother played the clarinet I think.
I also remember swimming nude in the CT river with the girls and the guys were down stream, very racy and bold doing up there that summer......

WHAT VISITING COMPOSERS HAVE SAID:


From my two-week visit at Dartmouth College,situated in the beautiful New England countryside, I retain in my memory the exemplary musical performances, the exceptionally agreeable working atmosphere,and the unique manner in which the meeting of composers,interpreters and audiences accomplished for the most positive result. Especially remarkable is the programming of Mario di Bonaventura,who juxtaposes modern and classical works with extraordinary taste and revealing effect. Through magnificent artistic and organizational skill Mr. di Bonaventura has realized at Dartmouth a festival of world-wide reputation for excellence.
- BORIS BLACHER

Hopkins Center is making a very important and effective effort to encourage work of significance and to further public understanding of the truly cultivated and meaningful in the Arts. In focusing on those aspects of artistic creation that have given our civilization its inner vision and imaginative power and scope, it helps to check the forces of mass culture which tend to reduce the arts to tired, dispirited entertainments, and which, in seeking financial reward and popular acceptance, neglect the deeper incentives which have made the arts such a vital part of our lives.
- ELLIOT CARTER

Led by Mario di Bonaventura, a man of profound knowledge and vision, the Dartmouth festival programs are developing larger and more understanding audiences each year.
- CARLOS CHAVEZ

My weeks as a composer-in-residence in 1967 were an eye-opener. The Congregation of the Arts follows no conventional pattern; under Mario di Bonaventura's perceptive leadership, it has developed a program of its own, combining first-rate orchestral and chamber music performances with a teaching staff and student body that are outstanding. Best of all, its repertoire is broadly representative, including a generous amount of today's music.
- AARON COPLAND

In my career I have had many interesting and exciting experiences as a composer and teacher, but very few made upon me such an impact and wonder as the events I witnessed at Hopkins Center. It was a real surprise and marvel to discover a summer school and festival which emphasizes contemporary music and exalts modern composers. The presentation of artists of our time has been planned in such a way that it gives students, audiences and critics broad and deep knowledge of the composers, their oeuvre, development, technique and style, their ideas and individual approach...The orchestra, formed by faculty and students, plays with such a sense of community, talent, accuracy and expression that it sounds equal or better than many established professional orchestras. This miracle has been achieved by Maestro Mario di Bonaventura, who is a wonderful musician and conductor, besides being a perfect organizer. Under his expert hands the Orchestra reaches the highest peaks of musical performance. It is Mario di Bonaventura, also, who works the miracle each summer in assembling a group of teachers from among the best artists in the world.
- ALBERTO GINASTERA

Hopkins Center offers a unique experience to composer to hear a great many of his works in a comparatively short period of time, giving him an opportunity to reconsider his ways and to think about his future. The composer is put in vital touch with instrumentalists and singers, telling them about himself and learning from them. For two weeks his music is a constant reality. It is Mario di Bonaventura, a remarkable conductor, gifted with a miraculous ear, who every year prepares and organizes these wonderful Congregations. With taste, elegance and precision, and with deep understanding, he leads and teaches his players. He puts his talent and ardor entirely into the service of music, finding satisfaction in having brought new works to life and to have helped the development of young music and young musicians.
- HANS WERNER HENZE

The weeks which I had the pleasure of spending at Hopkins Center as composer-in-residence were a most inspiring and exhilarating adventure.The comprehensive program, ingeniously put together by Mario di Bonaventura,was a sort of retrospective one-man show such as is rarely available to a composer,surveying forty years of my oeuvre and including one of my latest works especially commissioned by the Center for this occasion.
- ERNST KRENEK

Being a composer-in-residence at Hopkins Center during the Fourth Congregation of the Arts was for me an experience I cannot compare with anything else in my life. It is already widely known that Hopkins Center has an excellent orchestra and first-­rate soloists and that the choice of a resident composer's works to be played during the festival is always made with thoughtfulness and generosity not to be met anywhere else. But perhaps the most striking feature of the festival is the devotion oft he performers as well as the audience for the music itself. I felt it strongly in every moment of my stay at the Hopkins Center and this experience has been a tremendous stimulus,encouragement and source of inspiration for my present and future work. All this would not be possible without the great personality of the musical director of the Center, Mario di Bonaventura, who is the brain and the heart of the festival.
– WITOLD LUTOSLAWSKI

This is truly a new idea, a wonderful innovation which Mario di Bonaventura has had, of confronting a composer for two weeks with his own music, of having him play it, conduct it and supervise its performance. This confrontation is all the more intense as he must share it with a remarkable group of professors and young musicians as well as an enlightened audience. The close rapport established during rehearsals and performances represented for me an experience I will certainly never find anywhere else, and remains an unforgettable memory. Mario di Bonaventura must be praised for finding this means of offering a powerful stimulus to the composer and of making contemporary music, by his very presence, a living reality...
- FRANK MARTIN

Under the direction of Mario di Bonaventura,the Hopkins Center has established itself as a strong force for contemporary music. The clear emphasis on the content of the music itself as well as the healthy attitude of offering indepth performancesof works by composers of various persuasions make it an exhilarating and adventurous experience. Mr.di Bonaventura deserves praise not only for the freshness of his conception but also for the thoroughly professional and artistic manner in which the programs are presented.
- PETER MENNIN

The Dartmouth orchestra impressed me with its remarkable qualities of precision and intonation, and its obvious enjoyment in playing. The group seemed aware of its good fortune in having the guidance and inspiration of Mario di Bonaventura, a superb musician and a conductor of skill, knowledge, taste and humanity. To have established so high a standard in so short a time is an achievement deserving our admiration.
- WALTER PISTON


PRESS COMMENTS:

The Dartmouth College Congregation of the Arts seems to me, at each visit, the most interestingly diverse, lively and attractive of American music festivals...The way programs are put together reflects intelligence, knowledge and taste, and the performance standard has been high.
- Michael Steinberg, BOSTON GLOBE, August, 1968

For seven years...the Hopkins Center has been facilitating the production of new music and new music-musicians, the one as importantly needed as the other...Today, Dartmouth becomes a musical mecca and a source...
- R. Commandy, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, August, 1969

...the finest presentation of contemporary music in the world today is being played at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire..
- CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, August, 1967

The students go partly to rub elbows with the pros, and the pros are drawn by the opportunity to play an eight-week festival of largely contemporary music...explains Stuart Canin, who spends his winters as concert-master of the Philadelphia Chamber Symphony, "Here you can be a creative musician again." Above all, the performers go to learn contemporary music from the men who compose it.
- TIME MAGAZINE, July, 1967

In addition to the inestimable service it is doing for composers old and new, the Congregation of the Arts is encouraging young performers by giving them an experience with solo assignments that elsewhere would generally go to better-know artists. The five singers and and three instrumentalists who were the soloists in this concert were expert and appear to be headed for productive careers in the near future. (Frank) Marin himself had nothing but praise for them others with who he worked while (at Dartmouth).
NEW YORK TIMES, July, 1967

Hopkins Center is the home of what has become, in six years, one of the world's significant meeting places for all the arts.
- Paul Hume, WASHINGTON POST, July, 1969

It is more an educational enterprise than a purveyor of entertainment, on however a lofty a plane. And paradoxically, as often happens, the result is a far more solid and profound satisfaction for the audience, too...These were performances of a remarkable technical virtuosity and stylistic conviction.
- MUSICAL AMERICA, October 1967

di Bonaventura has developed performing resources of imposing quality. His orchestra is excellent. He has attracted a number of first rank virtuosi to his staff...His professionals are understudied by a large contingent of gifted conservatory-level students. The conditions under which the guest composers function are ideal...The performances are superb.
- Harold Blumenfeld, ST. LOUIS DISPATCH, August, 1968

Courtesy of Dena Romero

Links:

Dartmouth Concert Honors Zoltan Kodaly

Festivals: Diddlidong at Dartmouth

"Never Standing Still" by Fred Sherry






Creative Commons License
Creative Commons License

Except where otherwise noted,content of this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License