By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ON HYDE BAY – Jon Maney wants Hyde Hall to be more than just a house museum – (although, what a house!)
He wants it to be a destination for music and arts.
“We’ve done a lot of classical music, but we need more contemporary music,” said the National Landmark’s executive director. “George Clarke loved jazz, so we want to start having a whole range of music from different eras.”
On Oct. 6, the Musicians of Ma’alwyck, an Albany-based band that’s become the museum’s house band, will debut Max Caplan’s “The Hyde Sextet,” a work scored for flute, harp and string quartet and inspired by the ghost of Hyde Hall.
Caplan, is the composer of the suffrage-themed opera “Aleda,” which premiered in June 2018.
“It’s a really spooky piece that’s in the spirit of the season,” said Maney.
The neoclassical home was built by George Clarke between 1817 and 1834. Clarke was great-grandson of one of the last British lieutenant governors of the New York colony, who amassed 120,000 acres in the Hudson and Mohawk valleys and a sizeable fortune before returning to England in 1745.
Clarke, who after the American Revolution successfully sued to get his family’s land back, lived in Hyde Hall until his death in 1835, just one year after the Great Hall was completed, and his family remained in the home until 1955, when the last George Clarke died.
Though Thomas Hyde Clarke attempted to keep the estate in the family, it was seized by eminent domain proceedings in 1963, to build Glimmerglass State Park.
But since 1964, the Friends of Hyde Hall have sought to keep and restore the home to its former glory. Under Maney’s tenure, historically accurate carpeting and drapes have been made, light fixtures and furniture restored, and programming has been expanded to include an annual series of ghost tours, art exhibits, galas and more.
“We want to communicate that this isn’t just about 19th century culture,” he said. “It’s about having fun now.”
Throughout the summer, the Glimmerglass Festival’s Young Artists, Eight is Eneuf and The Musicians of Ma’alwyck have performed in the fully restored drawing room. “We’ve sold out several of the shows,” said Maney. “It’s just been a wonderful program of music.”
But this year, the season has been extended into fall, with concerts by Máire Ní Chathasaigh & Chris Newman playing traditional and contemporary Celtic and folk music on Saturday, Sept. 7. Chatham Baroque will perform on Sunday, Sept. 15 the “Macabre Music” performance by the Musicians of Ma’alwyck will be held Sunday, Oct. 6.
The drawing room holds 75 guests, and with the expanded season, Maney is hoping to increase Hyde Hall’s ability to entertain.
“We’re looking for purchase a big tent for next year,” he said. “We’d love to have more outdoor concerts, overlooking Otsego Lake. It’s the best view in the county.”
The season ends with the annual “Hyde and Shriek” ghost tours, which tours the areas of the house where ghostly apparitions have been seen.
“The house needs to be used for music and activities so it all comes alive,” said Maney. “We want to work with the opera, work with the museums, work with theater groups to make Hyde Hall even more of a community resource.”