Many people assume that if you’re a classical music lover, you’d have to travel to New York City to see a worthy chamber concert – but what if we told you that world-class live performances could be found locally, in the heart of Newburgh?
Queen of the Hudson is a concert series founded by Newburgh resident David Ludwig. Boasting an intimate setting with world-class talent in the “queen city” of the Hudson Valley, as Ludwig likes to call Newburgh, both music-lovers and musicians are enamored with the series.
Originally hailing from Brooklyn, Ludwig is a musician himself and has experience working with various music venues in New York City, such as “floating concert hall” Bargemusic. It was there that he began gaining the experience and valuable connections that would later help him establish his chamber music series that he began in 2009 out of a Brooklyn loft.
But when he was introduced to Newburgh in 2010, Ludwig loved the city so much that he decided to move there soon after. For him, Newburgh is the perfect mix of urban and nature. “In two minutes you can be in wetlands and beautiful hikes, while you can be on the train to New York City in an hour… it’s a special little place,” Ludwig said.
Continuing the concert series in Newburgh was only natural. “I’m obsessed with chamber music, contemporary music, world music. And I love live performance in a small venue where people can really escape,”Ludwig explained. It indeed started small; Queen of the Hudson was hosted in the Chamber Street loft of conceptual artist John Delk from 2011 until 2015, when the series moved to its present location on Spring Street.
Atlas Studios, Queen of the Hudson’s current home, is a major contributing factor to the series’ growing popularity. It offers both a unique setting for the concerts and a home for the 1888 Steinway piano which is on permanent loan to the series, courtesy of Peter Helm (the piano itself has its own interesting history). “The Atlas space was unique, the sound was incredible and they are passionate supporters, so it was a perfect fit,” said Ludwig.
The distinctiveness of the venue is confirmed by the overwhelming response from the musicians. “Everyone that comes to the series says this is the most favorite place they have played in their life. These are people who have played all over the world,” Ludwig said. “We’ve had performers refuse to be paid because after their performance they’ve said, ‘This is one of the most incredible places I’ve been. Your audience is amazing and the city is amazing… [You] keep this going.’”
Queen of the Hudson’s January 14 concert attendees emphatically agree. Attending a performance by Mikhail Kopelman on violin and Anna Gourfinkel on piano, Tom Costa, whose father used to own Costa Beverages next door, noted, “It’s nice to see the space getting put to good use.” Denise DeVore and her daughter Hayden Diaferia traveled from Beacon to attend the concert. “I love how intimate the space is. These are New York City caliber musicians,” said DeVore. Sarah Teller, a piano teacher in Beacon, said she feels inspired to keep teaching. “The piano, the instrument itself, is worth the trip across the bridge.”
Now entering its seventh season, Ludwig has high aspirations for the future of the series. Queen of the Hudson will soon be partnering with Cultures and Harmony, a non-profit dedicated to encouraging and promoting music and performances from different cultures, among its many pursuits. Founded by musician William Harvey, the partnership will allow Ludwig to incorporate his other passion: education. Harvey has experience developing youth orchestras around the world, and will be able to bring that expertise to Queen of the Hudson. This summer, the series is hosting the Master Class Festival, an immersive program for young artists, and Ludwig has ideas for developing more educational programs in the future.
In the future, Ludwig would like the concerts to become more affordable, more accessible, more frequent, and to include a wider variety of genres in its programming. Though this may sound ambitious, Ludwig is well on his way. Concerts this season are due to feature artists from Mexico, Czech Republic, and even traditional music from Eastern Europe called Sevedah. Additionally, Ludwig says the series has an open-door policy for those who can’t pay the ticket price but still want to attend. In the future, though, he would like concerts be free or as little as a $5 entry. “Not everyone gets to go to Carnegie Hall,” Ludwig explained.
Queen of the Hudson’s next concert is Saturday, March 18 featuring Ben Larson on the cello and Martha Cargo on the flute performing “Pieces of 8.” Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with the concert starting at 7:00 p.m.