MANCHESTER >> For 10 years, amateur string and woodwind instrument players have gathered in Manchester to share their love for chamber music.

On May 18, 40 musicians will come together for the Manchester and the Mountains Chamber Music Workshop at The Inn at Manchester and receive coaching from seven experienced musicians. The event organizer, Janet Hoffman, thinks the area is perfectly suited for something that was simply a passion, and something she wished to get better at.

"The people who come to play music come from all walks of life: doctors or teachers," Hoffman said, "but, when they're there, they are amateur musicians and it's a wonderful thing to see. I have made the most wonderful friends, people I would have never met otherwise, and they have enhanced my life fully."

The workshop runs three or four days, and offers three dinners, four breakfasts, and over 21 hours of hands-on coaching and community music playing. Participants come from as far as Hawaii, Toronto, Canada, Washington, and the immediate New England and Northeastern states.

Hoffman and her husband live in Long Island, but have a second home in Manchester and thought the Manchester Music Festival and surrounding properties could house this type of workshop. In its inception, Hoffman said there were only seven attendants and two coaches, but now it has grown.


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Annual funds come from the Amateur Chamber Music Players (ACMP) in addition to a $785 attendance fee to offset the costs of renting space, buying music, paying coaches, etc. Hoffman advertises through an email and posting to the ACMP website after the new year and those interested have until March to register. After, two or three pieces of music is distributed to all participants based on their given skill level stated in their registration application, allowing four weeks of practice for the workshop.

"There's tons of music around for pick-up groups, and folks are encouraged to explore Manchester and join together with other people and do a compound of music," she said. "It's one big music love-fest and they just adore it. In the evening we play ensemble groups together for a few hours and on Saturday night, one of our coaches will put together a show."

The event started as a strictly string instrument gathering, but opened up to woodwind once participants expressed interests. With the accommodation of the First Congregational Church, two piano's will be available to use, Hoffman said. Overflow attendees will be placed in the Taconic Hotel, and coaching will take place in the Manchester Music Festival building.

"People come play their passion and love to play chamber music in a nonthreatening environment," she said. "So, we put this workshop together and have people who come back year after year."

Public is not invited to the event due to the small, intimate performances within the workshop.

— Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.