2018 Informational Letter

Dear Midsummer Adult Piano Retreat Participants:

We are very excited as we plan our 13th annual Piano Retreat. Many returning participants as well as some newcomers will make up our group this year. There will be twenty-six students in all. There have been some changes again this year, so please read this letter even if you feel you “know the ropes.”


Arrival ​is from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, July 7th. If you get into Williamstown early, please amuse yourself in the town, as early check-in is not available​.  If you expect to arrive after 4 p.m., please call Debi on her cell (617-290-6935), and she will arrange to meet you with all the necessary materials at the dorm. Check-in ​will be done at Dodd House this year.

Directions ​to Dodd: as you approach the campus on Route 2 (Main Street) you will turn onto Park Street (Don’t worry. You can only turn in one direction onto Park St). Then you will turn right onto Mission Park Drive. The road will curve down a hill where you will see three white houses. The large white house with green shutters is Dodd House. Debi will be on the porch to greet you and provide you with a room key, a building swipecard and meal card, parking permit and general campus information, like pool and gym hours. You’ll then be directed inside where Alison and John will greet you and help you get situated. A Williams College student will be on hand to help carry your bags into your rooms. We’ll have refreshments waiting for you in the Dodd House common area.

The Conference Office rents fans for $6.00/week and Debi will have those available when you check in. It helps if you have the right change for the fans! If you are driving to the workshop, please bring your own.  Rooms come with sheets, blanket, pillow and towels. Other items that past participants have suggested bringing are hangers, reading lamps, a clock radio or alarm clock, foam pads for the mattresses, a cushion for the chairs in the classroom, a sweater for the overly air-conditioned classrooms and a power strip if you have numerous electrical devices.

A useful link to the Williams College website is: http://www.williams.edu/visitors/

On this site you’ll find information about accommodations and other frequently asked questions. There is a list of what not to bring too! You can also find a campus map on their website.


We are all staying in Dodd House again this year. Dodd was the original Williams Inn. It has lovely common areas where we can gather. There is a piano in the living room, though it is in pretty bad shape. Here is a link for new people to show you what Dodd House looks like: https://student-life.williams.edu/housing-and-residential-programs/upperclassresidencehalls/dodd/


The website above (under “Logistics”) will provide complete and easy travel information. For transportation from the Albany airport, we have used the following services. Please call well in advance to reserve:

  • Shuttlebug 518-892-3052 (Rick is the owner.)
  • Norm’s Limo 800-486-4946 normslimo@verizon.net
  • There is also a taxi service 518-242-4222
  • There is also train service for those of you who may not wish to fly. There’s a daily train from Toronto to Albany. There is also daily Amtrak service from NYC to Albany.


This year, Alison and John will present the Tanglewood pre-concert talk. Alison will also lead a class called “Franz Joseph Haydn: Gravitas and Humor. And, guess what! Our Guest Artist Hugh Hinton (please see below) will be playing an All-Haydn Program for us! Debi’s class this year is entitled, “Piano Warm-Ups” and she’ll also be leading the ever-popular Alexander Technique Movement Classes each morning. John Ferguson, whom we are welcoming this year as a full-time faculty member, will give a stimulating talk entitled, “Discovering Great Pianists of the Past Through Recordings.”

The remainder of our scheduled time will include practice hours, private lessons, morning coffee break, three wonderful daily meals, Guest Artist Recital and reception, Guest Artist Studio Class (participation optional,) ensemble coachings, optional “student exchange,” ensemble sharing opportunities, and our trip to Tanglewood. We’ll be handing out lesson, practice and class schedules on Saturday evening.

Please note that Tuesday night is free for you to explore Williamstown. I think many people already have theatre tickets. http://www.wtfestival.org/

Thursday is also a free night for most everyone.

Collaborative Piano

One of the missions of our workshop is to encourage ensemble playing (i.e. 4-hand duets, flute and piano, 2-pianos, violin and piano) for any student who wishes to experience it. We’re thrilled that many of you have already let us know what you wish to play. This year our guest artist, Hugh Hinton, will provide coaching sessions for those who want them. We’ve already prepared a schedule for those who have expressed interest.

Guest Artist

We are thrilled to welcome pianist Hugh Hinton to our workshop this year. For bio information, please visit his website at https://www.merrimack.edu/live/profiles/391-hugh-hinton

After his concert, we’ll have a reception, generously hosted by longtime attendee, Paul Whitlow. This year’s reception will be held at Pera Bistro on Spring Street in Williamstown. Hugh will give a recital on Wednesday evening and a Studio Class on Thursday morning (participation optional.) He will also provide ensemble coachings on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning.


Our Tanglewood Field Trip is on Sunday afternoon. A bus will pick us up at the dorm at 1:00 p.m. for the 2:30 concert in Lenox. After the concert we will head to PUBLIC Eat and Drink in North Adams, on our way home. The entire cost of the evening – transportation, meal and concert ticket – is included in your retreat tuition.

Tanglewood is the beautiful and inspiring summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. We will be hearing the program below in the Koussevitzky Music Shed.

Boston Symphony Orchestra

Rudolf Buchbinder
Photo: Marco Borggreve

Andris Nelsons, conductor
Rudolf Buchbinder, piano

BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1

Andris Nelsons and the BSO pay a special tribute to Bernstein by replicating the first full program Bernstein ever conducted with the orchestra in November 1944.


If you haven’t done so already, please send us your cell phone numbers and provide us with an emergency contact name and number. PLEASE DO THIS WELL IN ADVANCE OF ARRIVAL. ​And please write down the following and/or put them in your phone: Debi Adams’ cell # 617-290-6935 Alison Barr’s cell # 781-582-7245 John Ferguson cell # 617-543-4389.

We all look forward to getting to know each of you and seeing our returning students once again! The week we spend at Williams is always a highlight of our teaching year.


Alison, Debi and John