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Copland House In Cortlandt Manor Continues To Preserve And Honor Music

Bedford resident Michael Boriskin, Copland's artistic and executive director. Photo Credit: Jeanne Muchnick
The exterior of Copland House in Cortlandt Manor. Photo Credit: Jeanne Muchnick

CORTLANDT MANOR, N.Y. -- While Copland House has been a visible and respected presence on the national music scene for most of its 17-year existence, a lot of people in the area still don’t know much about it.

The rustic retreat, the former home of composer Aaron Copland, is a virtual time capsule meant to replicate the life lived and the musical scores produced (Copland was here 30 years, from 1960 to 1990).

Today, the Cortlandt Manor home is where many up and coming and established guest composers are brought in to stay, reflect, and create.

Copland, for those not familiar with his works, is best known for his open, slowly changing harmonies evoking the vast American landscape and pioneer spirit. His works helped to define America’s musical identity in the 20th century.

His home, a throwback to the l960s and '70s, is also where school, community, and history groups from across the region come for private tours, lectures, workshops, and occasional musical events.

The secluded enclave, originally saved by a grassroots group of local citizens, is the only composer's home in the United States devoted to nurturing America's musical heritage through a broad range of activities, according to Michael Boriskin, Copland's artistic and executive director.

"Much of what we do here – our coveted composer residencies and in-school activities – is private," explained Boriskin, a Bedford resident and accomplished pianist. "It's always a challenge to get the word out about those programs."

Much more visible are the many concerts and musical events Copland House presents throughout the year in and around Westchester and across America, which feature world-renowned artists from all over the world who are part of the widely-acclaimed "Music from Copland House" ensemble. Its mainstage concert series takes place at Merestead, a 130-acre estate in Mount Kisco which includes a 26-room Georgian Revival mansion, carriage house, farm buildings, formal gardens, natural woodlands and over two miles of trails.

Music from Copland House’s next concert takes place at Caramoor in Katonah on Sunday, July 12 at 4:30 p.m.

Also on the horizon is the late summer CD release on the Copland House Blend label of “Crossings,” featuring chamber music by award-winning composer Pierre Jalbert, a two-time Copland House resident.

And mark your calendars for Copland House’s next Merestead season, which opens September 26 with a concert honoring the 25th anniversary of the passing of both Copland and Leonard Bernstein.

Go to www.coplandhouse.org/ for a complete listing of upcoming concerts and other events.

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