Sunday, August 11, 2013

MacDowell Medal Day 2013

MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, New Hampshire
Colony Hall, Medal Day - August 11, 2013
 It comes only once a year, and this year was a very special one!  The MacDowell Colony's annual Medal Day took place today under a perfect New Hampshire blue sky with puffy clouds and a gentle breeze.  Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim was awarded the 54th Edward MacDowell Medal to honor his outstanding contribution to the arts.  As the MacDowell Medalist, Sondheim joins an impressive list of past recipients including Thornton Wilder, Robert Frost, Georgia O'Keefe, and Leonard Bernstein, but has the distinction of being the first Medalist to be selected from the field of musical theater.

Savage Library with new addition
 In addition to the presentation of the award itself, Medal Day festivities include the opportunity to have lunch on the Colony grounds (bring your own, or by order a basket lunch from the Colony) and tour open studios.  This year, 32 studios were open, hosted by artists-in-residence including visual artists, writers, theater artists, film/video artists, interdisciplinary artists, and composers.  Other open sites included Colony Hall, The Eaves, the Savage Library (including the brand new addition), the Pageant Outdoor Amphitheater, Edward MacDowell's Log Cabin Studio, the Music Room at Hillcrest (with live piano performance featuring the works of Edward MacDowell), and the grave site of Edward and Marian MacDowell.

Log Cabin Studio

Inside Log Cabin Studio

For my part, I was not able to take part in all of the festivities, but I did take a tour of the wonderful new Library and visited a few of the artist studios.  One artist whose work particularly made me smile was Michael Scoggins.  When you entered Cheney Studio where he was working, the first thing you noticed was giant paper airplanes suspended from the ceiling!  Fun!  A visit to the Edward MacDowell's Log
Cabin Studio was like a step back in time.  And music at the Music Room at Hillcrest included Edward MacDowell's well-known "To a Wild Rose".  All this under about as beautiful sky anyone could ask for!

Pageant Outdoor Amphitheater
Pageant Outdoor Amphitheater with pink pom-poms
Mount Monadnock from the Amphitheater
For more information on Stephen Sondheim's work, here are are some links to articles on and  And we have good reason to believe that this year's Medal Day, with interviews with Stephen Sondheim and others, will be featured on the new "PBS NewsHour Weekend" after it launches in September.

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