I suppose you think that when all the students go home for the summer, the much-adored compost shed by the Persons parking lot becomes the neglected province of scavenging squirrels, crows and coyotes. Well, the scavenging squirrels are right on the mark, and I even saw a woodchuck in there finding out “how much mac’n’cheese can a woodchuck chuck?” But what you are totally missing is that there is also a boatload of lovely, fresh, even musically gifted garbage to keep the compost cooking all summer. I mean, the Marlboro Music School and Festival is in full swing, at least as far as the compost pile is concerned. It turns out that world-class cellists, flautists, violists and even bassoonists enjoy the earthy delights of composting their food waste just as much as college students do.
I absolutely know this because I spent yesterday afternoon turning the festering pile of pastoral over with Marlboro junior Caitlyn Charles, who is working for the festival this summer and helped mastermind the summer compost program. Festival staff and participants are on a rotation to bring their polyphonous plate-scrapings down to the compost shed quicker than you can say klangfarbenmelodie, if you can say klangfarbenmelodie. Really, when I think about it my mind reels: how do these outstanding chamber musicians from around the world view composting their leftovers? Giving Bach to the land, perhaps? Scraping the Rimsky-Korsakovs their plates? Making rich garden soil from their discarded Berliotz-meal and orange Schubert and Mozartichoke hearts and pickled Beethovens? I mean, where have these musical composters been Haydn, all these years?