Music in the Mountains co-founder Paul Perry has died


“We at MIM are greatly saddened to hear of the passing of one of our founders, Paul Perry,” Music in the Mountains announced on Saturday night. “Words cannot express how important Paul has been to MIM. He made us what we are, and we are forever grateful for the decades of artistic leadership he provided. The world has lost a great artist who was always and foremost dedicated to the pursuit of excellence.”

“The world has lost a dear and talented man,” one longtime admirer wrote on Facebook, where numerous condolences appeared.

“Paul raised the bar for presenting great music in Nevada County”

“Our condolences to our friends at Music in the Mountains,” said InConcert Sierra. “Paul raised the bar for presenting great music in Nevada County – and his legacy carries on. Our community and the world has lost a great artist. He will be missed.”

Perry was instrumental in helping to create Nevada County’s vibrant arts and culture scene. “By the late 60′s, Gary Snyder, Utah Phillips and a host of authors and musicians were following (David Osborn’s and Charles Woods’) footsteps north (from the Bay Area to Nevada County),” as our magazine has reported, citing “Others who were inspired to do the same included Paul Perry, who came from San Francisco to become the first Artistic Director of Music in the Mountains.”

“In addition to their own amazing contributions to cultural life in Nevada County, Osborn/Woods encouraged and inspired others to do the same,” as longtime Nevada City resident Paul Matson wrote. “Paul Perry, who in 1975 stood in as pianist at a San Franciciso’s Community Music Center Chorus concert at the AVM, began making regular trips to perform in Nevada City and in 1982 became the first artistic director of Music in the Mountains.”

“The first Music in the Mountains Summer Festival took place in June of 1982 under the auspices of City Opera, a nonprofit corporation founded in 1978 in San Francisco by Paul Perry and Terry Brown,” as the MIM website once reported. “With the move to Nevada County, the purpose of City Opera was changed from producing little known works and obscure operas to producing a Summer Festival.”

First MIM concerts under Perry remembered

“Utilizing the existing local volunteer chorus, the Golden Chain Chorale, already under the direction of Paul Perry, as the core of the Festival, professional musicians were hired from orchestras throughout the United States. That first Festival was comprised of fourteen concerts, including a free KinderKonzert, over ten days and took place in St. Joseph’s Hall, with a capacity of 280, the Nevada Theatre seating 250, and the American Victorian Museum (now Miners Foundry) seating 150.

“It included works for orchestra and chorus, as well as chamber music, all performed by this resident group of musicians. In 1985, the corporate name was changed from City Opera to Music in the Mountains and the Golden Chain Chorale was renamed the Festival Chorale.”

Perry also served as a panelist with the California Arts Council. In 1985 he received the Elly Award for outstanding musical direction from the Sacramento Area Regional Theater Alliance.

He graduated from Rollins College and Florida State University, and studied with such notable teachers as Robert Page, Carlisle Floyd, John Carter, Ross Rosazza and Clayton Krehbiel, as a biography points out. He appeared with many groups throughout the Southeast, the Bay Area, and Northern California as a conductor, pianist and ensemble player.

Perry also served as Artistic Director for the Desert Foothills MusicFest in Carefree, Arizona, which debuted in January 1992.

A podcast with Perry highlighting his final season at Music in the Mountains in 2008, after 27 years, is here.

(Photo: Music in the Mountains)

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