Olmsted Ensemble comes to Piedmont


The Olmsted Ensemble performed in the Piedmont College Chapel on Saturday, Jan. 25 to a standing ovation.

Peter H. Bloom, flautist; Brian Clague, violinist; Jennifer Shallenberger, violist; and Timothy Roberts. cellist, have been performing together for seven years.

They have played at venues such as Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, Tufts University, Longfellow National Historic Site, the Islesboro Maine Summer Concert Series, King’s Chapel, One Longfellow Square and Elmira College.

The members of the ensemble tour individually with orchestras and chamber groups across North America, Europe and the Far East.

The group performs European and American chamber music from the 18th to the 21st centuries from favorite composers like Charles Hommann, Ignance Pleyel and Mozart.

“We see ourselves as ambassadors for music and chamber music,” said Jennifer Shallenberger, violist and  the only woman in the Olmsted Ensemble.

“We’re always looking in new repertoires – new to us – and contemplating other programs, other kinds of themes, arrange things around.”

“It’s a little bit like planning a meal,” she added. “Like, you have your appetizer course – the overture – […] and then you have your main courses, and then a little dessert element at the end.

“It feels good that way to the players; you sort of feel fulfilled by the end the performance, and hopefully the audience does too.”

Unexpectedly, Shallenberger states that during her personal time, she actually does not listen to much music and prefers silence.

“I will say that as a musician, between rehearsing and teaching, there is so much of my day hearing sounds that it’s actually really nice to go home and not turn on the radio and just have quiet.

“Sometimes your brain just feels like it’s been overly bombarded. People are always surprised by that. For me, anyhow, I just need a buffer.”

When asked if there were any secret “rock ’n rollers” in the group, Shallenberger said with a laugh, “Not that I know of. The closest would be Peter [Bloom; flutist]. He plays with a bunch of jazz groups, and they’ve done some motown. The fingering is the same for the saxophone and the flute and a lot of other wind instruments, so he plays all of those.”

Shallenberger also went on to state that while at an educational concert for fifth graders recently, the group was asked if they could play the theme to “Spongebob Squarepants.” Sadly, the answer was no.

The Olmsted Ensemble takes its inspiration from Frederick Law Olmsted, the great landscape architect and creator of Boston’s Emerald Necklace and New York’s Central Park. His work was visionary and forward-looking, while also honoring and extending traditions of the past.

Susan Harris, a Cornelia resident who attends Piedmont events often, was delighted with the performance.

“Words are inadequate to say how blessed we were to be in the presence of such world-renowned musicians. You can’t go anywhere else in the world and hear groups like this that are brought so close to home. It was a wonderful and enchanting evening.”

For more information about the Olmsted Ensemble, visit