Hill and Hollow taking a hiatus

SARANAC - Angela M. Brown wouldn't exactly called it the day the music died, but rather the day the musicians took five.

Brown, who serves as executive director of Hill and Hollow Music, said the nonprofit chamber music organization founded in 1995 is taking a break from bringing performances to the greater Saranac area.

"We are just taking some time out because we have neglected a lot of personal stuff for a number of years," said Brown, referring to herself and her husband. "We're taking time out to just regroup and rethink things."

The decision to put Hill and Hollow on hiatus came when the organization took a huge financial hit last year. According to Brown, $45,000 in state grant funding fell through, which would have helped make up nearly half of Hill and Hollow's $100,000 annual operating budget.

"That was kind of like the straw that broke the camel's back," said Brown. "We had to raise a lot of money all the time and it took a lot of energy to do that."

However, through their use of a financial reserve and generous donations from Hill and Hollow supporters, the shows specially-themed for the Quadricentennial went on as planned, said Brown.

"We didn't cancel a thing, but we did have to dip into our slush fund to manage. And, luckily, our friends were very good to us," said Brown. "We were able to fulfill all our obligations that we set out to do, but it was just very stressful."

Hill and Hollow was also able to arrange performances for five Battle of Plattsburgh commemoration events in September, added Brown.

Though Hill and Hollow will not have a visible presence this year, the organization will still maintain all the instruments and equipment it owns, including its grand pianos, said Brown. Now will be a time for finding ways to reduce costs, she continued, including examining doing away with a regular printed and mailed newsletter and focusing more on the organization's Web site, www.hillandhollowmusic.com, which Brown said is still in need of updating.

"While we're hibernating, there's a lot of ideas percolating," said Brown. "There still is this niche, this need, that needs to be filled. We can't go away forever. We just have to figure out a way to do it at less cost to everybody involved."

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