Now that concerts no longer had to take place in Newton Highlands I started the search for a new venue. Most concert goers don’t think about all the components that make a venue acceptable. I had quite a few requirements. Of major importance was a large piano, one with good sound that could hold a tuning. I wanted a venue that was easy to find, if possible near a stop on the MBTA line. Convenient parking was essential. The venue should be comfortable, large enough to accommodate 100 to 150 people and air-conditioned. Good sound was critical. For a sound test when visiting a prospective venue I would clap my hands to discover how much echo there was. Of course in evaluating an empty room there is always some amount of echo, but that technique did provide some information about the acoustics. Good site lines were important so that everyone had an unobstructed view of the musicians. Another requirement was a space to sell refreshments and a place for the audience to “hang out” during intermission. Bathrooms should be easily accessible and able to accommodate more than one person at a time. Having wheelchair accessibility would be an added plus. And the final consideration was the price.
I considered numerous options, mostly in schools or churches. I even might have stayed with the Congregational Church in Newton Highlands but that venue
was taken over by the New Rep Theatre Company which received a huge grant to completely renovate the space. Once the theater came in there were very few open dates in the calendar. If New Rep didn’t have a performance they used the space for rehearsals. I had to go elsewhere.
Luckily I found the Founders Room at Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill. Imagine an elegant room, with antique oriental rugs, decorated with beautiful tapestries and a grand piano. It had wood paneling and intimate lighting. On the first floor was a living room where we could set up tables for brochures and refreshments, large enough for much of the audience to gather during intermission. Down a short flight of stairs was the performance room itself. There was no stage but given the modest size of the room it was easy to see and hear from anywhere. Parking was available all around the building. Unfortunately the venue wasn’t wheelchair accessible and it required a long walk from the nearest “T” stop if anyone came by public transportation. Otherwise it fit our needs perfectly.
The price was affordable and Pine Manor offered some flexibility about dates, although I had to reserve them almost a year in advance. Among all the venues I had seen it was far and away the best. I felt Highland Jazz had found a new home and I hoped to be there for many years.