ESSEX — Dan Berggren and Carl Heilman will present an evening of Adirondack sights and sounds for a fundraiser for the Essex Community Concert Series July 11 at 7:30 p.m.
“Having Dan and Carl perform a benefit program, we thought, would be a great way to invite people from all over the park to visit the Champlain Valley, get a glimpse of what it has to offer as well as sharing what our series has to offer: great music performed by both locally cherished and world famous artists at a low cost,” said Peggy Staats, committee chairman of the Essex Community Concert Series.
“It’s a good thing to support the people who book, organize and run a concert series in Essex for the good of the community at large,” Berggren said. “I can’t think of a better opportunity to get an evening of incredible Adirondack images by such a skilled photographer and teacher as Carl Heilman, combined with music and stories about the region.”
The benefit concert will consist of Heilman’s multimedia presentation “I Am the Adirondacks” and Berggren’s blend of songs and stories that he himself wrote.
“I do [my works] with words and music so the audience members’ imaginations are creating their own pictures,” Berggren said.
Berggren said he won’t know what songs he’ll be singing until the day of the concert. However, he’s certain he will be performing “Here’s to You” and “Alice.”
Berggren wrote “Here’s to You” in 1992 to celebrate the centennial of the Adirondack Park. Its four versus take the region’s history from the Native Americans to the present, with the second verse relevant to Essex and neighboring villages.
The other song, “Alice,” is based on a true story about Alice Switzer, a woman from Berggren’s hometown of Minerva, who, in her retirement, volunteered to lead a community chorus.
“This gave folks the opportunity that many of them hadn’t experienced since high school: to sing for fun with friends and neighbors,” Berggren said. “Since the concert Carl Heilman and I are doing together is a benefit to raise funds for a not-for-profit community organization, I thought this song would be appropriate.”
Heilman’s presentation “I Am the Adirondacks” is based on a poem written by Miriam Davis Kashiwa, a poem in which the Adirondacks speaks in its own voice to introduce visitors to the region.
“The intent of the program is to evoke a sense of our being part of the wild, natural world,” Heilman said. “Going into the wilderness is about leaving the everyday behind and being absorbed in the flow of the nature.
“It is about venturing into the spectacular and finding wonder in the details.”
The music for this program was a collaborative effort by Adirondack folk musicians, Berggren, Dan Duggan and Peggy Lynn along with composer and musician Casey Filiaci, who each put in their own talents and love for the Adirondacks to create this soundtrack.
Heilman’s images, combined with the music and the narrative edited from Miriam Kashiwa’s poem, capture the spirit of the Adirondack Park.
“As much as we separate ourselves from a life in nature, we still need to live in balance with the Earth and remember how much of an effect our lifestyle has on the world we are living in,” Heilman said. “We ARE nature.”
The Essex Community Concert Series began in 1990 when Donald Beggs, seasonal resident of Essex, gave the Warren A. Cross Memorial Organ as a gift to the town.
The organ was a creation of Japp Van der Veer of the Netherlands, assembled in his shop in Holland. He made the wood pipes himself out of 150-year-old pine with metal pipes made by a small firm in Germany.
The organ was disassembled and shipped via air to Essex where it was reassembled in the Essex Community Church by Van der Veer and his family. After the assembly and tuning in the summer of 1990, the concert series began.
“Donald Beggs’ intention was to have the organ used for religious services and public recitals for years to come,” Staats said. “Donald Beggs’ gift is still giving after 34 years.”
The Essex County Concert Series Committee is based out of the Essex Community Church that also is an ecumenical committee made up of both Essex Community Church members and community members.
“Initially, the concert series hosted only organists,” Staats said. “Now, the series has branched out to include a variety of genres and instruments.”
For this summer, the concert series has three organists, two pianists, three vocal groups and a chamber music group that perform classical, bluegrass and gospel music.
The series relies on ticket sales, private donations and grants such as the DEC grant and the Essex Arts Council CAP grant.
The events put on by the committee cost $10 per adult for evening concerts, $5 optional donation for mid-day concerts and nothing for children and students.
“The climate for fundraising has been challenging in recent years,” Staats said. “It’s becoming more difficult each year to raise the funds necessary to pay the artists fees they deserve.
“[Even though] they often agree to perform for our series for amounts much, much lower than they are accustomed to being paid, we do need to pay them.”
The committee consists of nine to 10 volunteers who “share Mr. Beggs’ love of music and wish to help keep his dream of accessing great music in the small town of Essex alive” along with selecting artists to perform in the series such as Berggren and Heilman, Staats said.
“People should attend this program if they would like to enjoy an evening filled with the sights and sounds of the Adirondacks presented by artists who are known for their exceptional abilities to do so,” Staats said. “People should come to this program to help support us in keeping that music in the summer air.”