Play it again

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Having had the pleasure of sitting down with Ariel Rudiakov and Joana Genova of Taconic Music and with Adam Neiman of Manchester Music Festival over the past few weeks, we could not help but wonder: Is there enough support in the region for two classical music organizations?

The answer dawned on us while waiting in line for a free ice cream cone at Ben & Jerry's on Tuesday.

First of all, clearly there's support to go around, since both groups are moving ahead with promising plans for summer festivals and music schools. Manchester could be a veritable music lover's paradise this summer.

Second: If there's no such thing as too much free ice cream, there's certainly no such thing as too much great music.

Two music organizations committed to the region means twice as many opportunities to hear supremely talented professional musicians, and students who aspire to their teachers' high standards.

Two music festivals means more chances for adults and children to learn about great music and great composers, the societies and cultures they lived in and the personal stories of triumph and tragedy that fueled their art.

It also means more young enormously talented young adults living and playing among us during the summer months.

From our conversations with these talented and committed artists, we learned something: These are people who are passionate about music and want nothing more than to expose as many people as possible to the art they love.

They'll gladly answer questions about details such as ticket sales, programming and the conventional wisdom about the "graying of the audience" for the classics, because those are timely topics and news angles.

But get them discussing the nuances and fine points of their favorite music, and their expressions light up.

In fact, both Rudiakov and Neiman, in separate conversations weeks apart, used the same phrase to describe a young Richard Strauss' state of mind when he wrote the Piano Quartet in C minor — "under the influence of Brahms." Both Taconic and MMF will play that lesser-known piece in their festival openers.

Lucky for them — and for us — that both organizations have friends and supporters who feel the same way about the importance of music, not as an enrichment add-on but as an essential ingredient in our lives. Not every community is quite as fortunate. With the current presidential administration unwisely proposing an end to the National Endowment for the Arts for the purposes of giving the insanely wealthy more tax cuts and building more weapons we don't need, there is reason to be concerned about future of funding for the arts across this country.

But here in the Northshire, generosity and appreciation for beauty, whether natural or artistic, go hand in hand.

And unlike the free ice cream, music is sugar-free, fat-free and can be enjoyed before dinner without ruining your appetite.

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