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ARTIST PROFILE: Rose Chancler invites you to Piano By Nature in Elizabethtown

January 11, 2019
By STEVE LESTER - Correspondent (news@lakeplacidnews.com) , Lake Placid News

ELIZABETHTOWN-From her upbringing in the Texas panhandle to various piano teaching positions between Iowa and Alaska, Rose Chancler had seen a few places before settling down in the North Country in 2003.

Now she sees to it that the public can watch highly talented musicians perform regularly here at the Hand House between September and June.

Known as Piano By Nature, the concert series features modern pieces people have most likely never heard on their classical music station or during a music appreciation class. The performers may not be household words, either, but some have won a Grammy and nearly all have positions on the faculties at prestigious music schools such as the Eastman School of Music where Chancler earned her master's and doctoral degrees.

Article Photos

Rose Chancler, artistic director for the Piano By Nature concert series in Elizabethtown, sits with her dog, Zendaya.
(Photo provided — Steve Lester )

She said her marriage brought her to the area where she soon took a position at SUNY Plattsburgh. The birth of her now 14-year-old daughter prompted her to look for work closer to home, so she co-created Piano By Nature with Carol Linder "and a small board of dedicated people." It is now in its 11th season with her as the artistic director.

"In the beginning I performed in a lot of them, but I didn't want it to be the Rose Show, so I've stepped back a lot," she said. "I do a mix of national, regional and local musicians."

In addition to their musical skills, Chancler said she places high demands on the performers' social skills by booking only those who qualify, as she puts it, as "nondivaesque."

"I like them to be nice people as well as top-rate performers," she said.

Among the first things Chancler had to do was find a piano, a search that ended when somebody just gave her one.

"It's a beautiful 1910 Mason & Hamlin six-foot grand, on a par with a Steinway," she said.

Refurbished models of the same era can fetch more than $30,000.

Chancler also had to find a venue in which to hold the concerts, so she came up with a historic landmark that used to be a vacation home for Judge Learned Hand, who served on the U.S. Court of Appeals between 1924 and 1961.

"We call it the Hand House Mansion," she said. "It's a gorgeous venue. The interior is all wood, so the acoustics are fabulous. It seats only 50 people, so we encourage everyone to make a reservation because we never know when we're going to be overrun. We don't charge admission but have a suggested donation of $15."

In terms of the musical acts that perform there, Chancler said, "We try to span the gamut, but I go for the nontraditional types."

Past acts have featured the ondes martenot, one of the earliest electronic instruments invented in 1928. Others have featured a piano/accordion duo, a trombone/viola/cello trio, a ragtime pianist for silent movies and a brass quintet.

Receptions are always held after the concerts where the audience gets to meet and chat with the performers, many of whom are Chancler's friends and acquaintances from all over the country who she insists are approachable, personable and just generally nice people.

"It's good to have a combination concert and hangout," she said. "It's also a great way to introduce my friends to the Adirondacks, and everybody loves it here, of course."

The series usually includes five or six concerts a season.

"I'd like to do more if we had the money," she said.

Most of the series funding stems from government grants, anonymous donations, and grants from local businesses such as Stewart's Shops.

Piano By Nature is one of the few organizations that tends not to hold its concerts during the summer tourist season largely because of its proximity to the prestigious Meadowmount School of Music in nearby Lewis which holds its own series during a seven-week summer intensive for those studying piano and stringed instruments beginning in late June.

Created in 1944, Meadowmount's alumni include Joshua Bell, Lynn Harrell and Itzhak Perlman. According to its website, "Meadowmount presents concerts Wednesday, Friday and Sunday evenings in the 500-seat Ed Lee and Jean Campe Memorial Concert Hall. Concerts feature students, faculty, and distinguished guest artists."

Chancler said, "We focus on September to June. If we want we can go beyond. Sometimes we have."

For those looking for musical performances that feature artistic expression more so than commercial appeal, who don't mind going out in the cold once every other month or so, and who might enjoy schmoozing with the performers afterward, the Piano By Nature series might be just the ticket.

More information can be found at www.pianobynature.org, or by calling Rose Chancler at 518-962-8899.

 
 
 

 

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