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Composing a Garden: A Quartet Blooms

August 18th, 2016

Composing a garden is a lot like composing music. There are places in the garden that invite a crescendo of blooms, and other areas that call for a something gentler, more of an adagio. A tree may be a cappella, placed without accompaniment of flora and fauna, while garden intermezzos are provided by a restful bench, an inviting birdbath, or an architectural remnant.

The overture to the garden may be a stone pathway leading you into the orchestration of plant life. The point to composing a garden is to provide an overall feeling of harmony and create a truly personal connection. The composition of music is similar.

Good music can inspire.  Listening to great music in an intimate chamber music setting on a weekend afternoon in the country is transformative, taking me out of my daily routine and into my imagination.

And so it was on a recent Sunday with the Emerson String Quartet at the Highlands Chamber Music Festival.  The Emerson, formed in 1976 in a dorm room at NYU, now plays at Tanglewood, Ravinia, Lincoln Center and broadcast nationally on NPR.  Marcia Weber Gardens to Love was privileged to sponsor their first appearance at the Performing Arts Center in Highlands, NC.

Landscapes and gardens are like music in that good design requires rhythm, movement and some force in endless variations.  At the heart of chamber music and good design lies the spirit of collaboration and the role of the musician or the garden owner.

There has to be a dialogue with the ensemble of performers or workers, a collaborative expression of experience, knowledge, and talents of its participants.  When well done, there is a transformation.

The magnificence of music not only impacts people, but also is said to impact plants. The right tones, rhythm, and harmonies can actually promote plant growth by helping them open up to growth potential when they would otherwise be dormant. Music transforms all forms of life.

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