At Evermay the Setting Plays Lead

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Last week, GM was invited to attend a concert at Evermay as part of the S & R Foundation’s Overtures series. While the music of classical guitarist Soichi Muraji was highly enjoyable and the ostensible point of the evening, the surroundings of Evermay can’t help but steal the show.

The S & R Foundation was founded by two Georgetowners, Dr. Sachiko Kuno and Dr. Ryuji Ueno. The husband and wife team made a fortune with their bio-med company Sucampo. The private couple splashed across the news several years ago when they bought the long-listed (and coveted) Evermay and Halcyon House estates.

Instead of living in these massive properties, they’ve converted them into use for their worthy foundation, which is focused on “support[ing] talented individuals with great potential and high aspirations in the sciences and arts, especially those who are furthering international cultural collaboration.” Music is a key objective of the foundation, and it began hosting concert series at Evermay last year.

GM had heard good things about the series, but had not until last week attended a concert. And it is really quite an experience.

You arrive up the driveway to this old mansion (that GM likes to call “Clue-like”):

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Most attendees took advantage of the complimentary valet parking (GM didn’t test if they’d park his bike for him). Then you enter and (if you’re there early enough) are treated to an elaborate cocktail half-hour:

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And after grabbing a free drink and some nibbles, you can stroll the grounds and pretend, for a little bit, that you own the place:

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Or you can just sit on one of the benches under the giant elm tree and gaze out over the city. You’re also free to roam some of the fancy rooms on the first floor of the house proper.

Sachino Kuno herself was mingling around at the concert GM attended, and she was very friendly, introducing herself to all the guests.

Oh, and there was a concert too.

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The concerts are held in the conservatory on the east side of the main house. It’s a decent-sized room, and GM estimates about 40-60 audience members fit. The seating arrangements, however, are a little unusual. Instead of rows of seats, there are about a dozen or so circular tables with seats around them. (The tables came in handy for all the recently filled glasses of wine that were brought in).

Soichi Muraji, the guitarist, was supposed to play with his sister, Kaori, another guitarist. Unfortunately a medical issue kept her away. She was ably replaced by Tamaki Kawakubo, who accompanied Muraji on the violin for several pieces.

The music ranged from a Japanese sound piece by Akira Nishimura, some Spanish-flared Manuel de Falla, a trip to Argentina with Astor Piazzolla, and a wing back through eastern Europe with Bartok.

GM’s only critique about the presentation was the absence of movement listings in the handbill. A frequent concert-goer might know well-enough that a sonata has four movements, but all it takes is a few to start a wave of applause after the first movement if it’s not made clear.

The concert was relatively brief at about an hour. The crowd then repaired right back to veranda for some more pork and wine and good conversation.

GM had to slip back on his bike and go home, so he has no idea how long the good times lasted before the crowd was shooed away, but you can bet they got they’re money’s worth.

There’s one more concert this spring next week. Get tickets here.

Considering all the possible uses that Evermay could have been put to, it’s a real boon to the city that this is the outcome.

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