‘Orchard in Fog’ and Apricot Applesauce

New Salem Preserves in New Salem, Massachusetts. An heirloom apple orchard on 125 acres overlooking the Quabbin Reservoir in central Massachusetts. (Photograph ©Adam Laipson)
New Salem Preserves in New Salem, Massachusetts, an heirloom apple orchard on 125 acres overlooking the Quabbin Reservoir in central Massachusetts. (Photograph ©Adam Laipson)

WE RECENTLY WERE INTRODUCED to “Orchard in Fog,” a beautiful musical composition by New England native Adam Schoenberg

Schoenberg’s “Orchard in Fog for Violin and Orchestra” made its world premiere February 10, 2018, performed by violinist Anne Akiko Meyers, with conductor Sameer Patel and the San Diego Symphony.

Emmy Award-winning and Grammy® nominated Adam Schoenberg (b. November 15, 1980) has twice been named among the top 10 most performed living composers by orchestras in the United States. His works have received performances and premieres at the Library of Congress, Kennedy Center, New York Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and Hollywood Bowl.

Here are excerpts from the composer’s program notes:

“’Orchard in Fog’ takes its name from a photograph by Adam Laipson of an apple orchard in winter. This particular orchard happens to be the same place where my wife and I were married in my hometown of New Salem, Massachusetts. 

“Adam was generous enough to give us the photograph as a wedding gift, and it hangs in our bedroom. I’ve been waking up to this beautiful, haunting image every day for the past six years, and I am continually drawn to it. When Anne Akiko Meyers asked me to write her a violin concerto, a narrative inspired by this image and place immediately came to mind.

“’Orchard in Fog’ tells the story of an aging man visiting the orchard where he was once married many years ago. It is the dead of winter, and he is now weak and tired, and nearing the end of his life. 

“The first movement (Frail) is reflective, and it represents the present day. It features a series of melodies that are more melancholic than hopeful.

“Movement II (Dancing) is a memory. It captures the old man looking back on his life and all the beautiful youthful moments he had with his wife. The movement is essentially one long dance.

“Movement III (Farewell Song) gradually brings us back to the present day, and to the orchard where the old man’s journey first began. This is his farewell song to his love and to the life that he has known. It is now time for him to leave everything behind and move into the unknown. 

“Whereas Movement I was more somber in tone, this movement gives us a glimmer of hope and acceptance.”

Photographer Adam Laipson was kind enough to grant us permission to post his photograph with the link to the premiere, here: Orchard in Fog

It’s the perfect companion for cutting up apples or rolling out dough for a Thanksgiving apple pie, or sitting quietly, thoughts drifting through the trees.

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Children like to help! (Bar Lois Weeks)
Children like to help! (Bar Lois Weeks)

APPLESAUCE, like apple cider, is usually best unadorned. Applesauce is simple, easy to make, versatile (it can be substituted for fat in most recipes), and delicious without adding anything to it.

Yet our good friend Judy Podell of Hebron, Connecticut, a frequent volunteer for New England Apples at the Eastern States Exposition (“The Big E”), says her friends rave about and and often request this revved-up version of applesauce featuring apricot preserves. 

Apricots, like most fruits, pair well with apples, and combined with the butter and spices give the sauce a creamier texture and sweeter flavor than usual. If you are looking to make a sauce that is a little bit different, this is a good option. 

Almost any apple can be used in making sauce. We had several varieties on hand, including lots of McIntosh, and heirlooms like Ashmead’s Kernel, Calville Blanc d’Hiver, and Winesap. Mixing varieties lends a more complex flavor.

As always, leave the skins on for added nutrition and color.

The original recipe, called “Shelley’s Applesauce,” came from the Uncommon Gourmet, a 1993 cookbook by Ellen Helman. We’ve made a few changes.

Apricot Applesauce

15-18 medium New England apples

1/2 c apple cider

1 c apricot preserves

2 T butter, melted

1 T lemon juice

1 t cinnamon

1 t vanilla (optional)

Core apples, cut into quarters.

In large, covered pot, place apples and cider, and cook on low heat for 20-30 minutes, until apples are soft, stirring occasionally.

Set a large food mill over a large bowl and strain apples.

Stir in remaining ingredients.

Cool before serving.

Adapted from Uncommon Gourmet by Ellen Helman