Weintraubs to hold release party for Chautauqua-recorded second album

Kelsey Burritt | Staff Writer

Photo Michelle Kanaar | Staff Photographer Nancy and Jason Weintraub

Jason and Nancy Weintraub had an earlier wedding than they planned. That was before they formed The Weintraub Duo, had two children and began to live in Chautauqua every summer, a family tradition that has continued 41 years — an anchor in their life. “When we went home for the Christmas holidays that year, I’d got a notice saying that I’d been moved to 1A, which meant that the next month I would get drafted,” Jason said. He had just graduated college at the Eastman School of Music, where the two had met and where Nancy was finishing her senior year. Jason studied English horn performance, and Nancy, piano. “We had a February wedding planned, so I called her, and I said, ‘Either we get married now, or else I probably won’t be at the wedding,’” Jason said. “So we got married now. It was arranged in about three or four days.” After traveling for several years with Army field bands and then chasing teaching jobs from Kansas to Oklahoma, the couple began to maintain a constant: their summers at Chautauqua. Walter Hendl, music director of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra at the time, knew Jason as a student while he was serving as the director at Eastman. Jason auditioned for Hendl and then was offered the position as the CSO’s English horn player, which he still holds 41 years later. Their sons — now with six children among them — have spent almost every summer of their lives at Chautauqua, growing up in Children’s School and Boys’ Club. Once Benny, their older son, turned 5, the Weintraubs began to give family concerts in Smith Wilkes and McKnight halls, and Aaron joined in by the time he was 3 or 4. Benny and Aaron both attended Chautauqua to study in the piano studios, though their careers took them in different directions. “(Benny) played ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ with the CSO in 1996, and I conducted,” Jason said. The performance is one of his favorite memories from Chautauqua. “It was a great family moment,” Nancy added. The two sons started their own careers and families, and Jason and Nancy returned to being a duo again. They only seriously began to perform in the past eight years, booking gigs at retirement communities and Elderhostels. From 2007 to 2010, the Weintraubs worked as classical artists on cruise ships that toured the Caribbean, Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. The opportunity gave them the chance to travel the world while augmenting their repertoire. They recorded their first record in 2006, and their second, called “Gershwin and Romance,” will be available beginning today. A release party for the album will be from 4 to 6 p.m. today at the home of Ed and Pat Garland, 19 Palestine. “Anybody is welcome to drop by and listen a little bit, have wine and hors d’oeuvres,” Jason said. “And we won’t object if they wish to purchase.” On the album’s back cover is a photo collage of the two during their travels, but the picture seen under the CD ­— of Jason and Nancy water-skiing on Chautauqua Lake ­— shows the couple in what they call their true paradise. Appropriately enough, both albums were recorded at Chautauqua. They were allowed to use the grand piano in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall for both occasions and received help from sound engineer Matt Wilson at Cohen Sound Studio. They said their music was not flashy, but soothing and very listenable. “At the end of last season, an acquaintance was going to have chemo, so I went to see her and gave her the CD,” Nancy said. “And she has told me that she used it for every chemo treatment that she had. She listened to it, and it helped her. We get some stories sometimes about people enjoying our music … We enjoy every moment of it.” Jason founded the Chautauqua Community Band, the two were both founding members of Symphony Partners, and Nancy was president for a time. But Chautauqua means more than that to the couple. “It’s family. Aaron was here every single summer of his life — he missed one the year that his twins were born. And Benny since he was 2½,” Nancy said. “We have three generations to stand up on Old First Night.” Before their family history at Chautauqua, before they were the Weintraub Duo, the two were practicing alone at Eastman. “I was practicing in one of those little practice rooms at Eastman; they have a window,” Nancy said. “And I was going around checking the windows. I was a junior, and she was a freshman, so you were looking to see who the new faces were,” Jason said. “And I thought, ‘That new face ­— well, that’s a nice face.’”