by Len Lear
Area children are in for a very special treat if they attend the Mt. Airy Moving Arts Studio, 6819 Greene St. (across the street from Weavers Way) in West Mt. Airy, on Sunday, Oct. 4, starting at 4 p.m. Germantown musicians Erik and Jane Petersons, who play the fiddle, flute and mandolin, will perform “Animal Tales,” children’s stories brought to life through music. An interesting aspect of the show is that patrons do not have to pay any specific amount to attend the concert, but they may pay whatever they choose to.
“Erik and Jane are both phenomenal musicians,” said Pamela Rogow, of Mt. Airy Moving Arts Studio. “I can assure you that both kids and parents who come to hear them will have a great time.”
Jane grew up in Carlisle, central Pennsylvania, and Erik is from Warrenville, Illinois, a small western suburb of Chicago. Erik and Jane, both 31, studied at the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music in Illinois. Jane also received a performance diploma at the Birmingham Conservatoire in England. Erik’s degree is in music education.
Since their got married and moved to Philadelphia in 2008, Erik has been involved in directing multiple string orchestras, teaching private lessons, performing with various orchestras, and establishing himself as a freelance musician. Jane has taught at the Settlement School of Music, developed a private flute and piano studio, performed with a number of orchestras and is established as a freelance musician. Together, they have performed over 50 weddings and are members of the Charis Musica Ensemble, a professional chamber ensemble that performs concerts in the Philadelphia area.
Did they both always plan to become musicians? “I suppose you could say it was a path we both had been walking on for so long that the trail was familiar to us,” said Erik. “Neither of us aspired to reach for lofty careers in music, but it was what we loved doing. It was a blessing to study what we love so much.
“The intensity of conservatory life fosters close relationships with others, and we spent much of our time with a small group of friends who breathed music —rehearsing together, touring together, performing together. But it was the classic summer road trip a few of us took that piqued our interested in becoming more serious.”
Of course, the Delaware Valley has a glut of talented musicians and not enough work for all, so it is tough to make a full-time living. As a result, Erik and Jane insist that “we have each paid our dues at Starbucks and the local bagel shop when we needed to make ends meet.”
After they got engaged, Erik and Jane pulled out a map to decide where they wanted to live. “We choose Philly because it seemed to be a city with a lot to offer while at the same time being unassuming and happy to be itself. And it has been everything we hoped it would be.”
The duo performs a concert in Carlisle every year that draws a lot of families. They have also been a part of a baroque trio sonata that plays gigs around the area. “I am fortunate to have a full-time job working for the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society as their Education and Outreach Director,” said Erik. “This gives us some financial security with teaching and freelancing helping to round out our monthly budget.”
Since the Petersons were classically trained, they have performed in orchestras and chamber ensembles for years, but they also have a love for folk music and have combined this with their interest in storytelling. Generally speaking, they arrange music rather than compose it themselves.
In addition, they have a plot of land in a community garden right across the street from their home in Germantown, and they are up there almost every day. Jane leads the Philly MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) group and has started homeschooling their oldest daughter. And their family has grown with the inheritance of four laying hens from friends who moved to Vermont. One daughter, Meredith, is 5; another daughter, Eliza Wren, is 2 ½, and they are expecting their third daughter in mid-October.
The Petersons were asked if they could meet and spend time with anyone who is now deceased, who would it be? They both replied, “J.S. Bach. We both love his music and the way he masterfully sets Biblical theology to music.”
For more information about the Oct. 4 show, call 215-842-1040 or visit www.facebook.com/movingartsofmtairy/info.