Celebrating Ten Years with a Bubbly Brew

Far From the Tree Launches special Salem Film Fest Cider


Alex Snape brewing a special batch of craft cider.


When Salem Film Fest, the week-long all documentary film festival that runs from March 2-9, celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, it will be even more special because of Alex and Denise Snape, co-owners of Far from the Tree, a craft cider company specializing in unique, high-quality hard cider made from local ingredients.


They will create a special SFF Brew (stay tuned for its official name) that will reflect the film they are co-sponsoring, “First Lady of the Revolution”, the remarkable story of Henrietta Boggs, an Alabama Southern belle who takes a life-altering journey through marriage, civil war and audacious democratic reforms to become the First Lady of Costa Rica.


“When we think of documentary film, we think of raw, powerful emotion and beauty in storytelling. We hope to make a cider that will boast strong flavors and a lot of personality that people will enjoy from the first sip to the last,” Alex said.




Jeff Schmidt, SFF program director, couldn’t be more pleased with the collaboration between the two local mainstays. “I think the handcrafted artisan nature of the cider produced by Far From the Tree pairs up in a really interesting way with the artistic process of filmmaking. Henrietta Boggs is quite a character, and creating a tribute to her seems like a great fit!” he said.


Alex plans to launch the new cider on Sunday, February 26, days before the festival opens. He is working with the SFF committee to show the short films from the previous festivals in Far from the Tree’s tasting room that night, and he’d like to collaborate with Popped! Gourmet Popcorn in Salem to provide popcorn for his guests.


“Whenever we release a new cider, the response has always been very great. We hope the launch on February 26th will be just as successful,” he said.


Far from the Tree makes a craft hard cider based on a philosophy that respects tradition by controlling the entire production process from apple pressing straight through to bottling. The cider is made with local apples and exclusively natural ingredients. Over the almost three years they have been serving up their delicious hard cider, they have crafted other special brews, including Husk Cider, a small-batch fermentation designed to complement Island Creek oysters, and four brews inspired by inspired by the works of New England horror author, H.P. Lovecraft and released in October 2015 to coincide with Salem’s month-long celebration of all things Halloween.


Alex isn’t the only film fan at Far from the Tree. Erik Pudas, its head cider maker, is a former cinema projectionist who has worked at film festivals in the past and still enjoys the unique films only a festival setting can offer. Jen Tran, the tasting room manager and head of sales, has attended the festivals for the last several years. “As a growing Salem business, we have developed several connections and relationships with community leaders, volunteers and organizers, and are happy to help support them,” Alex said.


Salem Chamber of Commerce Executive Director (and a Salem Film Fest co-founder) Rinus Oosthoek echoes Alex’s enthusiasm. “I think the special brew is a fantastic way both to celebrate Salem Film Fest’s 10th Anniversary and to help promote the festival and FFTT at the same time. Our film fest audience will be very receptive to the idea, so we should be able to get FFTT some new customers,” he said, adding in his native Dutch, “Proost!”



Far from the Tree is located at 108 Jackson Street in Salem. For hours and more information, visit farfromthetreecider.com.


Salem Film Fest 2017 runs March 2-9. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit salemfilmfest.com.


The Cabot goes Classical

Chamber music ensemble debuts new “Classical at the Cabot” series


The Cabot Theatre in Beverly, which first opened in 1920 as a dream palace of vaudeville and silent movies, will host Virtuoso Soloists of New York (VSNY), a group of young musicians whose shared dream is to commission, perform and record classical music on the international stage. Although each of the seven members brings unique cultural and life experience to the mix, their shared passion for musical exploration and excellence has created one of today’s most exhilarating and vibrant classical music ensembles.


The Sunday, February 19 “Classical at the Cabot” concert starts at 3 p.m. and features a program that includes Sergei Rachmaninov: Trio élégiaque No. 1 in G minor; John H. Wallace: Triskele (A Trio for Viola, Oboe and Piano four-hand); Anton Dvorak: Terzetto in C major, Op. 74; and Robert Schumann: Piano Quintet in E-flat major, Op. 44.


Yoni Avi Battat, a core member of VSNY, is enthusiastic about the selection for VSNY’s first concert at the Cabot. “We will play a lyrical and stormy contemporary piece by Salem local, John H. Wallace, which has an interesting orchestration of oboe, viola and four hands piano. Dr. Wallace is the composer-in-residence for the Classical at the Cabot concert series, and is on the music faculty at Boston University,” he said.


The pieces range from the “innocent and charming” to the “robust and iconic”. “We chose these pieces around the theme of Romance, offering a satisfying and indulgent outing for the Sunday after Valentine’s Day,” he said.


Founded in New York City in 2014 by Italian pianist Edoardo Carpendao and Portuguese pianist Inês Andrade, VSNY’s members hail from all over the globe. Violinist Micah Brightwell is a native of New Zealand, cellist Gracie Keith and oboist Courtney Miller are American, and clarinetist Samuel Brandão Marques was born in Portugal.


Over the course of its two-year existence, VSNY has performed extensively across the United States and abroad. During the 2015 summer, the ensemble completed a two-week tour of Northern Italy, including a residency at the Udine National Conservatory. This tour realized the group’s collaboration with Italian composer Mario Pagotto, who dedicated a newly composed piece to the group.


Each performer is a recognized solo virtuoso, and their combined expertise, enthusiasm and musical flair attracts new audiences by crafting unique programs that highlight the connection between well-known classics and newly commissioned pieces.


A Boston-based performer and teacher, Battat plays viola and violin in a variety of different styles. With strong roots in classical music, he has played across the United States and abroad with a number of professional orchestras and chamber ensembles. An advocate of contemporary music, Battat works regularly with living composers of all ages to workshop, premiere and record new works.


He started playing violin at age four and picked up the viola at age 14 “because the one violist in my school’s orchestra was not available for our concert”. After playing just a few notes on the rich, low register of the instrument, he quickly realized that it would be far more than a temporary gig. “I felt that I had discovered my true voice as a musician. I especially liked that I could contribute so much as a supporting voice without being in the spotlight, that viola is a collaborative instrument by nature of its register and its role in chamber music.”


In addition to his work in classical music with VSNY, Battat also improvises in a number of other musical traditions, from jazz and folk to middle-eastern, salsa, and klezmer. Through his work in these styles, Battat says he aims to increase global awareness and celebrate cultural diversity through music.


Although Battat has performed klezmer music in a synagogue and Mario Pagotto’s music at the Udine Conservatory in Italy where the composer teaches, he is equally moved by the upcoming concert in Beverly.


“There is something equally special about bringing music to places it hasn’t belonged in the past. This concert season at the Cabot is the first classical music series ever in that beautiful and historic venue, so I’m excited to bring fresh music to audiences there as well,” he said.