Summer Lyceum: Apple Hill director talks ‘Playing for Peace through Chamber Music’

  • Lenny Matczynski, director of Apple Hill, speaks on the program's Playing for Peace initiative at the Monadnock Lyceum on Sunday at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Peterborough. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Lenny Matczynski, director of Apple Hill, speaks on the program's Playing for Peace initiative at the Monadnock Lyceum on Sunday at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Peterborough. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Lenny Matczynski, director of Apple Hill, speaks on the program's Playing for Peace initiative at the Monadnock Lyceum on Sunday at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Peterborough. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 7/8/2019 9:58:39 AM

The Apple Hill Playing for Peace program has been all over the world, bringing together musicians of different creeds, ethnicities and belief systems to get them playing chamber music together.

Because chamber music is impossible to play without communication, Lenny Matczynski said during his Monadnock Lyceum lecture on Sunday,

Matczynski, the director of Apple Hill, a summer chamber music program, spoke at the most recent Lyceum on “Playing for Peace through Chamber Music,” with musical examples provided by Apple Hill students.

Chamber music generally needs a small number of musicians, and has no director, Matczynski said. So, if the musicians themselves aren’t able to communicate, listen to each other, and signal silently their intentions, the piece won’t come together.

“Through music, everyone learns to communicate in ways that transcend the challenges within their community,” Matczynski said.

This is the basis for Apple Hill’s Playing for Peace program, which was founded in 1988. Initially, Matczynski said, Apple Hill musicians traveled to the Middle East to bring together people in political conflict through music. Since, the program has gone all over the world, including to Ireland, Southeast Asia, Malaysia and Cyprus to do the same thing. But the principles of Playing for Peace have also been incorporated into Apple Hill’s daily mission – because, as Matczynski said, “everyone has something going on.”

Apple Hill is a place where you might see a 65-year-old executive, who is a beginner at chamber music, being led by a 14-year-old, Matczynski said.

“Identities are gone – you just become a musician,” he said.

Matczynski said Playing for Peace works because it is founded upon the five skills of chamber music: watching, listening, sensitivity, flexibility and adapting. These skills are universally needed for conflict resolution and acting as a community as well, Matczynksi said.

During his talk, Matczynski had his students provide examples of playing chamber music with these values and without – with immediately noticeable results. Which, he said, is why it is a perfect way for musicians, even those who might be diametrically opposed on other issues, to communicate. They must do so for the sake of the music.

“It’s magical, but it’s also incredibly practical,” Matczynski said of the silent communication between musicians.

The Monadnock Lyceum is a series of summer lectures, held every Sunday at 11 a.m. at the Peterborough Unitarian Universalist Church.

Lyceum talks are available as podcasts on the Monadnock Lyceum website at www.monadnocklyceum.org.

The next speaker, scheduled for July 14 at 11 a.m. in the Peterborough Unitarian Universalist Church is Abdi Nor Iftin, with the topic, “Call Me American: My Long Journey from Somalia to Maine.”

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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