Let us contemplate the strawberries, the string quartets, the cupcakes and camaraderie, the delightful buffet of musical and edible treats that is the Town & Gown Musicale. How many different kinds of treats will there be? The best only accurate way to find out for sure is to join the audience at 7 pm on Saturday, February 9, at St. John’s by the Campus Episcopal Church, 2338 Lincoln Way.
On this special Saturday teams of volunteers create their own specialties, collect the most beautiful and tasty delicacies that local restaurants and bakeries have to offer, and finally arrange everything temptingly for the celebration of music and food to come that evening. It’s been rumored that some attend their first Musicale solely for the food, but are soon entranced by the musical gems, as well.
As the Town & Gown Chamber Music Association’s sole annual fundraiser, the Musicale has become one of the most anticipated events of Ames’ yearly cultural offerings. The special atmosphere of this evening comes from the gifts of all the volunteers: the skill and artistry of the musicians, and the time and talents of the cooks, arrangers and servers.
The Musicale began on a whim in 1990. Inspired by the abundance of local talent, Paula Forrest (Artistic Director of the Town & Gown concert series), proposed this glorious mix of music followed by a sumptuous buffet as a way to raise money for the organization. She asked friends from Iowa State’s Music Department and elsewhere if they would consider participating. They enthusiastically signed on and what ensued was the perfect embodiment of “town” and “gown (the university).” and that special spirit remains, decades later.
Musicale performances differ from more traditional chamber music programming by including lighter, often humorous selections, excerpts from larger works, unusual musical groupings, and some surprises, always presented with enthusiasm and love.
What could be a more welcome escape from a bleak winter? The beautiful acoustics and intimacy of the sanctuary at St. John’s, the gracious space of the parish hall, the marvelous music, food and congeniality among the audience and the performers, all combine to create a sparkling evening.