by Amanda C. Davis
Innsmouth, MA – Former Innsmouth resident and acclaimed cellist Brenda Gaither was in town for an overnight concert June 21 to 22.
Gaither, 32, was born in Hampton Falls, NH, and moved to Innsmouth at the age of four. After high school, she pursued a bachelor’s degree in music theory from Dyer College. She gave private lessons and performances in Innsmouth for two years before traveling to Europe for further study. There she developed her signature performance art piece: the Dusk-to-Dawn Open Air Concerto.
The marathon solo performance took place at Memorial Park overlooking the river. Gaither played near-continuously, with a ten-minute break every two hours, from sundown on Sunday to sunrise on Monday. The performance spanned more than eight hours.
She had a spare cello and extra strings on hand. She added, laughing, “That way I’ll have no excuse to stop if one snaps.”
The Innsmouth performance occurred over the shortest night of the year. Gaither often makes a point of scheduling her performances on dates of astronomical, historical, or local significance, “to give the art an additional layer of meaning.” Last year she performed through the longest night of the year in Binger, Oklahoma. She will return to the area for a concert in Dunwich on New Year’s Eve.
Gaither says her repertoire varies, but it “frequently incorporate variations on a Hungarian dance theme constructed by Erich Zann,” a turn-of-the-century German composer whose work she discovered in Paris.
“I’m delighted to be able to share Zann’s work with Innsmouth,” she says, “and I believe it will truly benefit the community.”
While many welcomed Gaither’s performance, others expressed qualms about the outdoor nature of the concert, calling it disruptive. The Friends of the Manuxet Environmental Preservation Society filed an official complaint, claiming the noise of the concert infringed on their midnight rowing event on June 21. The town council ruled that the concert was not a public disturbance and allowed it to continue as planned.
Gaither agrees. “The show will go on,” she says, noting the controversy. “This isn’t a block party or an overloud boom box. It’s a single instrument, featuring largely classical works. Who could object to that?”