The film, “Composer: Amy Beach,” was screened at the Redfern on Tuesday, Oct. 11, about the life of New Hampshire-born pianist Amy Beach. 

The screening was followed by a Q&A panel featuring Virginia Eskin, an adjunct professor, pianist, and the producer of the film, John Gfoerer, the director of the film, Jenna Caroll, the director of education for The Historical Society of Cheshire County, and Christina Wright-Ivanova, a Keene State professor and organizer of the screening. 

Before the premiere, Wright-Ivanova performed Beach’s song, “Fairy Lullaby,” on piano. She was accompanied by vocals from junior Amelia Guarino.

  Eskin said the film was intended to shed light on underappreciated female composers. 

“Women composers have been kind of left off the radar,” Eskin said. “When I was [young], I didn’t even know there were women composers…I didn’t want the next generation to come along and say, ‘Are there any women composers?’”

Eskin said the filmmaking process began when she met with Gfoerer to discuss her concept. 

“I laid out my idea and he said, ‘Let’s go with it immediately.’ We would meet for…long lunches…I came up with all the ideas for…the people who were interviewed…because I knew so many people from my Boston years, and then we just set about to make it,” she said.

Eskin mentioned that Gfoerer’s list of previous projects stood out to her. 

“He’s pretty powerful…his Concord company is called A Company…he’s made many, many, many videos of famous New Hampshire people…that’s why his portfolio appealed to me… John understood it,” she said.

The film described the reason Beach is a lesser-known composer.  

Cathay Fuller, narrator of the film, said “[She] canceled a European concert tour, and in September she decided to return home to the United States…[her] return to the United States was at a time of radical change in the world…young composers such as Arnold Schoenberg…were creating new sounds…with a bold modern energy…she’s forgotten because she’s not interested in ragtime or jazz.”

When asked about the film, audience member Suzan Perry said, “It was a really beautiful, heartwarming film.” 

Additionally, Perry said she was surprised by some of Beach’s life events portrayed in the film. “I was very sad to hear she didn’t have any children,” said Perry.

Eskin mentioned that Beach was seen as a mother figure to her.

 “I was like the daughter she never had, and it was interesting to become the repository of music, jewelry, statues, clothing, diaries, God Almighty it was just incredible,” said Eskin.

The film, ‘Composer: Amy Beach,’ is available to stream online for free on the New Hampshire PBS website. 

 

Benjamin Martins can be contacted at

bmartins@kscequinox.com

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