Community Foundation Funds Keep Music Mountain Vibrant

In the rolling hills of Falls Village, there is a small collection of buildings, tucked amid lush grounds. It is home to Music Mountain, a chamber music festival venue, an educational workshop, a place for community to gather and connect through live music—and the embodiment of an almost 100-year old dream.

Music Mountain was established in 1930 by Jacques Gordon, a talented young immigrant from Ukraine who rose to become the youngest concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony. While playing with the Berkshire String Quartet, Jacques set his sights on the hills of Falls Village to fulfill his dream of creating a chamber music festival.

Since then, Music Mountain has grown into a vibrant music venue, annually hosting dozens of chamber music performances, in addition to a new series of concerts featuring jazz, big band, and Broadway favorites. The Music Mountain Academy holds six workshops a year, welcoming young musicians who are mentored by seasoned artists.

Each August, the grounds are filled with music as community members of all ages gather and settle in with canvas and paint brush in hand for the popular Painting Music event with local artist Vincent Inconiglios and the Cassatt String Quartet.

But in early 2020, for a brief moment, the music stopped.

“Everyone was so isolated,” said Oskar Espina-Ruiz, artistic and executive director of Music Mountain. “We knew we had to do something.”

With a grant from the Northwest CT Community Foundation Khurshed Bhumgara Fund and the Northwest CT Community Foundation Covid-19 Rapid Response Fund Music Mountain staff purchased sound reinforcement, recording and livestreaming equipment.

“Live from Music Mountain,” a television-show inspired program featuring Oskar and various musicians, was born. Interviews, discussion, music and laughter streamed out of Music Mountain and into the homes of 30,000 patrons.

“Community members got the opportunity to see us, to talk to their favorite musicians, we cracked jokes and answered questions from viewers in real-time, and of course, we played music.”

“Music is transformative,” said Oskar. “And, it’s social. We learned so much about using technology to connect with each other. We all recuperated a part of what we were missing that summer.”

As restrictions eased, Music Mountain employed the new technology to welcome community members to enjoy Music Mountain from the grounds. Two large screens on the lawn live-streamed concerts from inside the building as music poured from audiophile speakers. Community members sat at socially distanced picnic tables or brought blankets and chairs from home. Others enjoyed the concert inside Gordon Hall masked and socially distanced.

“They had a really good time,” said Oskar. “And we were able to host more people safely. The technology purchased through the support of the Community Foundation enables people to enjoy music in the fresh air on the grounds, and it enables those who cannot come here because of age, or illness to log in and enjoy a live show from the comfort of their homes.

“We are coming out of Covid, stronger than before. Music Mountain is a vibrant place this summer.”

Contact your Community Foundation staff at: (860) 626-1245 to discuss your charitable giving options and goals.