In the 1920s, the European city of Paris was a natural gathering place for intelligent people who loved music and literature. Many of those people used to meet in salons to hear famous composers perform their music, and at times, to participate in those performances. These meetings of people who loved the arts often occurred in the afternoon or early evening, and were called "soirées," referring to the French word "soir," for evening or night. Artists Picasso and Matisse, American author Ernest Hemingway, and composers Virgil Thomson and Igor Stravinsky spent many evenings in Paris sharing their art and thoughts with those who attended these soirées.
Although upstate New York is far from Paris, we have our own modern versions of salons and soirees enjoyed by people who like to hear and perform music. Some of the best of these gatherings are organized by gifted local cellist Linda Magill.
Perhaps Linda's success at bringing together people who love music is helped by her training as a psychologist as well as her education as a musician. After she earned her performance degree from the prestigious Juilliard School of Music in New York City, she earned her doctorate in clinical psychology from Adelphi University and post doctoral degrees in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy from New York University. She was the chief psychologist at Manhattan Children's Psychiatric Center and was in private practice for 30 years before she and her husband retired to Jefferson.
Although her credentials are impressive, Linda seems much more interested in her plans for the future than her accomplishments from the past. Whether it's a result of her training or of her natural affinity for others, Linda seem to have great natural ability to bring people together for music, conversation and the excitement of learning more about both subjects.
After moving to Jefferson, she used her enduring love for music to help her community and neighbors. She has presented concerts in her home and fundraising events in public places. As a musician, she performs with professional musicians in orchestras throughout the state, but she also plays music with her many private cello students in her home and with her college students at State University College at Oneonta, where she has joined the remarkably talented group of adjunct music instructors.
She has organized concerts for the opening of an art exhibition and to help raise funds for the Jefferson Historical Society and the Honest Brook Music Festival. She plans to start a new series of concerts called "Jazz in Jefferson" that will feature some of the most talented jazz musicians in the northeastern part of our country. Her cheerful smile, her kindness in encouraging others stretch their own musical goals, and her clear determination to give her best efforts to all her endeavors are reasons that "Jazz in Jefferson" is sure to be welcome addition to the arts in upstate New York.
She has performed as a cellist and presented concerts with musicians from Walton, Andes, Jefferson, Summit, South Worcester, Gilbertsville, Stamford, Cooperstown and Oneonta, and she's making plans to add musical colleagues in Cobleskill. I asked her why she has given so much time for music and fundraising activities. She said, "It makes me feel good to do good. Someone said to me that I enrich people's lives and that's very, very gratifying."
Dr. Janet Nepkie is a member of the music industry faculty in the music department of the State University College at Oneonta. Her columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/musicbeat.