When Israel Schossev and Rackelle Roden started their Trail Mix concerts ten years ago, they used their living room as a concert hall. Everyone piled into the room on folding chairs, stoked by cups of coffee and desserts in the couple’s kitchen beforehand. The various early- 20-century Steinway grand pianos that Schossev made his living restoring via his Woodstock Piano Company were stored in side bedrooms on their sides.
Very quickly, as people realized the caliber of talented musicians that the couple and their instruments attracted, the events became packed to the point where reservations were necessary. Yet they always stayed homey, fun and the very epitome of the idea that high culture was something that belonged in the home, and not necessarily the concert hall.
Over the years, Schossev and Roden moved their events to the community room at the nearby Olive Free Library, where their once-a-month Sunday-afternoon concerts became as symbolic of the region’s greatness as the Maverick’s continuing chamber series, Olana and Cedar Grove, our various art museums and gallery towns and all that Bard and Vassar have to offer.
The repertoire played was expanded to include more and more contemporary works, sometimes with composers on hand. Yet through it all the concerts – described over time (and in the couple’s inimitable way) as “almost monthly” – stayed warm and tender, brightly intelligent yet friendly and welcoming. Many noted how they were amongst the best musical events of any kind that they had ever attended.
Now, the Trail Mix series will come to an end. “Israel, my life partner, co-founder of Trail Mix and the guy who keeps the pianos in top-notch shape, was recently offered the job of lead piano technician at the University of Shenandoah’s Conservatory, an on-its-way-to-becoming-an-All-Steinway-School, and we are moving to Winchester, Virginia in the next month,” Roden wrote in a recent e-mail to all the series’ supporters.
“Before I disappear, though, amidst the Blue Ridge Mountains and into the apple orchards and vineyards of the Shenandoah Valley, I do want to thank you for making Trail Mix’s intimate and inspiring concerts such a success. The series had a marvelous run, thanks to all the wonderful audience members who kept outstanding musicians coming back again and again. Without you it would not have happened.”
Talk about true elegance, and our culture at its best. To read more about what Trail Mix was, visit www.trailmixmusic.org.