The MacDowell Colony Artistic Paradise in New Hampshire

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Edward and Marian MacDowell

Edward and Marian MacDowell

A quiet studio just for your particular skill set sits waiting in a rural town in New England. For composers and writers there are cottages with grand pianos, beautiful bedrooms with handmade quilts and rugs, and large windows to look out into the woods for inspiration. Your gourmet lunches and breakfasts are delivered quietly and left in ornate baskets outside your door. At dinner you can join other artists at a summer camp-style mess hall to discuss progress. This Thoreauvian escape is where the most elite artists are accepted to work for weeks at a time. If it seems like your type of place, you might consider submitting your work to The MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire next year.

History and Famous Fellows

Leonard Bernstein.

Leonard Bernstein.

Composer Edward MacDowell and his wife, Marian MacDowell, a pianist, invested in this property in 1896 as an escape. Its peaceful grounds and remote location made it a perfect place for MacDowell to compose. MacDowell wished he could turn the area into a community for working artists and his wife acknowledged this wish. After MacDowell’s death in 1908, Marian worked with investors like Andrew Carnegie and Grover Cleveland to turn the area into an artists’ colony. The colony has now served more than 6,000 artists including some of our theatre favorites Suzan Lori-Parks (Topdog/ Underdog), Kerrigan-Lowdermilk (Henry and Mudge), John Pielmeier (Agnes of God), Susan Blackwell (Title of Show), and Leonard Bernstein (West Side Story).

Visit the Grounds

To continue MacDowell’s belief of a community area, the colony invites the general public to visit once every summer. There is a great guest speaker or two, women wear expensive floppy hats, everyone eats lunch on the lawn, and the artists open up their cottages to display their work and speak with the public. I was lucky enough to visit the year Stephen Sondheim was the guest speaker. Musical theatre geeks from New Hampshire and Massachusetts flocked to hear him discuss his lessons learned under his mentor Leonard Bernstein. Visiting only made me more jealous of the sanctuary each of these creators are allotted for a few weeks out of the summer. As one of the top artist communities in the world, it’s no wonder why it’s difficult to become a MacDowell Fellow. Applications are usually due around April of each year.

  • Author Spotlight

    Rachel Pantazis

    Rachel Pantazis
    Rachel is a graduate of Plymouth State University with a BA in English and a minor in Voice Performance. She works as a freelance blogger and teaches private voice lessons for people of all ages. Rachel also performs professionally in musical theatre around New England. In the summer of 2014, Rachel was an intern in the Educational Theater Department of the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA where she worked on their study guide for Finding Neverland. Rachel currently lives in downtown Portsmouth with her long time boyfriend and their cat Eloise! Read Full
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