Above, Montana Skies, who will launch this season of the Casual Classics Concert Series in Jasper. Learn more about Montana Skies at http://montanaskiesmusic.com
Next Monday, Sept. 26 the Classic Concert Series is kicking off its sixth, and perhaps most powerful season with the unique cello/guitar duo Montana Skies (pictured to the left).
According to concert manager Suzanne Shull, there is now a growing interest in the series. Shull says an average crowd at the New Lebanon Presbyterian Church on Bent Tree Drive falls between 100 and 150, and the patron-base for the series has widened significantly.
But there are still many people who don’t know about the series at all and others who misunderstand the scope and vision of what Shull founded six years ago.
Here are five things you probably didn’t know about Casual Classics Concert Series. If you want to know more you can contact Shull at 404-281-0790.
•High-caliber musicians: Shull says the musicians who are invited to play are all professional and well known on their circuit. “In New York City,” she said, “you won’t hear anything better than these groups.” Shull said all the musicians are paid for their time and talent, which goes a long way in helping to draw bigger acts. One concert they hosted, she said, featured a vocalist that was selected for the reality television program The Voice, which falls on the same lines as American Idol. Shull said musicians enjoy playing at the venue because of the good crowd turnouts and acoustic quality that lends itself well to chamber music.
•Concerts are in a church, but the music is not sacred: Concerts have been held at the New Lebanon Church in Jasper since the beginning, but Shull emphasized that the music is not religion-based. Shull worked at the Jasper church part time and, seeing the need for a new venue for chamber musicians in the region, she asked leaders of the church if she could use the sanctuary. The chuch leaders allowed Shull to begin the project and told her they would like to offer the concerts to the community as a free gift.
•It’s FREE and always will be: Because there would be no ticket sales, other sources of financial support were needed to get the series off the ground. Shull said in the beginning the series was endorsed by the local church, but now it is sponsored by donations from patrons. This outside funding allows musicians to be adequately paid while allowing concertgoers to enjoy high-quality entertainment at no cost.
•Series is part of Jasper Muse: Shull says Jasper Muse has been existing “under-the-radar” since it was created in 2007. The local non-profit was started to support performing arts and education in Pickens County. The Creative and Performing Arts Academy, the Jasper Young Singers and the Classic Concert Series all fall under the umbrella of Jasper Muse. Because of these programs adults and children in Pickens have the opportunity to take lessons from exemplary music, visual arts and drama teachers, and can participate in a wide-range of arts-based projects at affordable prices. “We are a non-profit and we’re not concerned with making money with this,” Shull said. “My philosophy is opportunity, opportunity, opportunity. If you don’t give children the opportunity you will never know what they can do.”
• Music you don’t typically hear in Jasper: Shull said the series began as strictly classical, but after two years she added one casual, more folksy show to the concert series. Shull says the series is a wonderful way for Pickens County residents to be exposed to a broader range of musical styles.
All shows are at 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 – Well-known duo Montana Skies will perform their unique and energetic fusion of cello and guitar.
Nov. 7 – Classic pianist Robert Henry will appear with violinist Fia Durrett and cellist Charae Krueger. This is the first piano trio that will perform in the series’ history.
Feb. 6 – The Franklin Pond String Quartet from the Franklin Pond Chamber Music in Atlanta. The quartet is comprised of teachers for the program who are also principals in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
May 7 – The Atlanta Guitar Trio will play a variety of music from Bach to the Beatles.