Pindrop Sessions: “The Senses of Summer” Commission and Concert [2019]

(Photo by Sam Brewer for WBGH)

Project Information

“The Senses of Summer” was the season 2 finale concert of the Pindrop Sessions classical concert series, which took place on Sunday May 5th 2019 at Aeronaut Brewing Company in Somerville, MA. Created by Jason McCool and presented in partnership with Aernonaut Brewing Company, WGBH, and WCRB 99.5; the Pindrop Sessions series is “a classical-ish performance series taking place the first Sunday night of every month at the AERONAUT taproom in Somerville, shining light on the ridiculous pleasure of collective listening”.

The series’ season two finale, “The Senses of Summer”, was curated by Pindrop Sessions founder Jason McCool and focused on the theme of synesthesia. The event featured both the premiere new synesthesia-inspired musical setting of James Agee’s classic text “Knoxville: Summer of 1915” by synesthetic composer Mary Bichner, which was performed by classical soprano Margot Rood and Phoenix (Aeronaut Brewing Co’s orchestra-in-residence); as well as a special tasting menu created by Chef Peter Ungár of the fine dining restaurant Tasting Counter, which in turn was inspired by the colors and synesthetic elements found in Bichner’s new composition. Here is a write-up on the event from the official Pindrop Sessions website:

“In a sprawling and season(al) finale, Aeronaut will close the second season of the Pindrop Sessions with THE SENSES OF SUMMER: a multi-sensory smorgasbord of music, color, and taste, an unprecedented collaborative event, feast for the senses and a perfect welcome to summer! We’ll be treated to a first in the United States: a classical work commissioned by a brewery! As if that weren’t audacious enough, we’ve asked our friends and neighbors (and recently announced James Beard Foundation semifinalists!) at Tasting Counter to design a tasting menu inspired by synaesthetic composer Mary Bichner’s compositional color palette. Guests who partake may visit Tasting Counter’s unique open kitchen space to taste these inspired small plates.

With a gorgeous, evocative text by poet James Agee, composer Samuel Barber’s Knoxville, Summer of 1915 is one of the unquestioned masterworks of 20th century vocal composition. Joining us to perform this piece will be soprano Margot Rood, hailed in The New York Times and one of the top classical vocalists in America. Boston-based composer Mary Bichner is a synaesthetic, meaning that when she hears sound she sees color, and vice versa. Ms. Bichner’s new work Senses of Summer sets the very same Knoxville text, and is specially commissioned for this evening. Our house band will be the phenomenal Phoenix, AERONAUT’s official Orchestra-in-Residence for 2018-2019. Finally, we will pair these culinary and musical delights with a specially-brewed Strawberry Vanilla Milkshake IPA beer inspired by Agee’s text… phew!”

Photos From Concert

Photo #1: Mary Bichner, Photo #2: Sam Brewer, Photos #3-#8: Diana Hunt

Contact INformation

For more information on this project, please contact the composer at

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