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Thursday, September 21, 2017
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The Rural We: Derek Delaney

Long Island native and Juilliard and Yale graduate Derek Delaney began his musical career as a horn player. But he has spent the bulk of his time as an arts administrator in the northeast, working at the Marlboro Music Festival, as development director at the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, and executive director of the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival. In 2012, he became the artistic director of the Union College Concert Series in Schenectady, New York, and has lived in Old Chatham since 2015.

The Union College concert series had been going on for about 40 years before I took over. It had been run on a volunteer basis. The former director approached me about taking over the series. At the time I was running a music festival in the Hamptons and living in Manhattan. I decided to take it on, but worked remotely from New York. It was clear that they needed somebody here to raise money and promote the series, so the college created a position for me.

Our series presents about 14 to 17 concerts a year from October through April. We attract almost 10,000 people from all over, people as far away as Montreal and Rochester, and now we’re building up a Chatham contingent. What makes our series different is that it’s often used as a warmup venue for musicians who will be making appearances at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.

Delaney turning pages for pianist Mitsuko Uchida.

I had moved up to Schenectady but was looking for a more artistic community, and fell in love with Columbia County. I bought a house built in 1780 where Amos Eaton, the founder of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), was born. It’s a large property and I love working on it. Last summer I built a patio. I’m taking advantage of being a country boy and joined my first farm share.

I go to New York quite a lot, so the proximity to New York and the Berkshires is a draw for me, as is Tanglewood, of course. But really, it’s the people that make this place — the community has been wonderful. I love meeting the artists, writers and musicians here.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 05/12/17 at 09:38 AM • Permalink