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FEBRUARY 4, 2021

Fresh, unpredictable and uninhibited—these are some hallmarks of the Baroque. For its next virtual presentation, Close Encounters With Music presents the acclaimed ensemble The Sebastians, lauded for their ability to connect with audiences through dynamic and vital performances of music of the baroque and classical eras. Known for their “energetic…youthful, vigorous performance style…” they have been called New York’s “leading young early-music ensemble” (The New York Times). The colorful, exuberant program will feature Telemann’s “Paris” Quartet, the glorious Fifth Brandenburg Concerto of Johann Sebastian Bach, and works by Vivaldi, CPE Bach, Handel and Porpora, with star roles for harpsichord and baroque flute (traverso).

The Sebastian musicians–Jeffrey Grossman, harpsichord; Daniel Lee and Nicholas DiEugenio, violins; Jessica Troy, viola; Nathaniel Chase, violone; and David Ross, traverso—are joined on Saturday, April 3, 7:30 PM, by CEWM artistic director Yehuda Hanani for a performance of Vivaldi’s Sonata No. 5, with its extravagant Venetian flair.

The seventh and final program of the Winter/Spring season, “Felix, Fanny and Frederic: Chopin and the Mendelssohns” will premiere on Sunday, April 25th at 7:30 EST. Again in partnership with the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center and Classical WMHT-FM, the two April programs begin with the same lively and illuminating insights from Yehuda Hanani that audiences have enjoyed for almost thirty years, and end with “Afterglow” chats with guest musicians that are especially poignant as they discuss their pandemic experiences and vision for the future of classical music.

CEWM’s online offerings were launched in July when the decision was made to present an entirely virtual Berkshire High Peaks Festival, with the participation of 46 international string, piano and vocal students, followed by an August live-streamed concert, “From Bach to Bachianas,” a guitar/cello recital featuring Eliot Fisk and Yehuda Hanani on stage in an empty Mahaiwe Theater. These and the October through December concerts that followed (“The French Connection,” A Night at the Opera,” Debussy and Brahms with the Escher Quartet, and “Forever Bach – the Cello Suites”) remain available for viewing on cewm.org, mahaiwe.org, and both organizations’ YouTube channels, and have collected thousands of views.

Now in its 29th year, Close Encounters With Music will present the 12th Berkshire High Peaks Festival for advanced piano, string and vocal participants virtually again this summer, with an expanded faculty and new jazz and improvisation offerings. An outdoor season starts on May 23 and June 13 at Edith Wharton’s The Mount in Lenox with two programs titled “Wine & Song,” featuring vocalists Emily Marvosh, Sonja Tengblad, pianist Joseph Turbessi and the a cappella jazz ensemble West Side Five. On September 18 Close Encounters presents the preeminent saxophone quartet, the Prism, at TurnPark Art Space in West Stockbridge, one of several programs being planned there.

“We are hopeful that we can begin a gradual return to concert presentation as we know it in November 2021—in person, and with a live audience at the Mahaiwe—with a rousing celebratory program postponed from June of 2020,” says Yehuda Hanani. “This will feature our long-awaited world premiere of Tamar Muskal’s work for tabla, rapper, two cellos, marimba and children’s chorus. We look forward to welcoming everyone to the Great Reopening!”

CEWM’s online offerings were launched in July when the decision was made to present an entirely virtual Berkshire High Peaks Festival, with the participation of 46 international string, piano and vocal students, followed by an August livestreamed concert, “From Bach to Bachianas,” a guitar/cello recital featuring Eliot Fisk and Yehuda Hanani on stage in an empty Mahaiwe Theater. These and the October through December concerts that followed, available on cewm.orgmahaiwe.org, both organizations’ YouTube channels, and the Mahaiwe’s Facebook, have collected thousands of views.

UPCOMING CONCERT IN THE WINTER/SPRING SERIES:

Felix, Fanny and Frederic: Chopin and the Mendelssohns
Sunday, April 25, 2021, 7:30 PM EST (mahaiwe.org and cewm.org)
NO CHARGE

A dazzling pianist, accomplished violinist, composer, conductor, a gifted painter and a gymnast, Felix Mendelssohn enraptured the royal courts and concert halls of Europe before dying at 38, shattered by the sudden death of his beloved sister and musical soul mate, Fanny Hensel.  Beyond extravagant, outsize talent and an early death, Frederic Chopin and Mendelssohn shared a warm friendship.  No one matched Chopin’s genius in the realm of the keyboard, and, as Schumann declared, hearing the incomparably tender and rousing Piano Trio in D minor, “Mendelssohn is the Mozart of the 19th century.”   Fanny’s works were largely consigned to the drawing rooms of fashionable Berlin, but more recently are receiving their due in concert halls and on CD’s, having been rediscovered as works belonging in the classical pantheon. Three faces of Romanticism!

Irina Muresanu, violin; Max Levinson, piano; Yehuda Hanani, cello

ABOUT CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH MUSIC
Close Encounters With Music is in its 29th year of presenting music and other programming to audiences in the Berkshires and beyond. Entertaining, erudite and lively commentary from founder and Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani puts the composers and their times in perspective to enrich and enlighten the concert experience. Since the inception of its Commissioning Project in 2001, CEWM has worked with the most distinguished composers of our time — Joan Tower, Judith Zaimont, Lera Auerbach, Tamar Muskal, Thea Musgrave, Robert Beaser, Kenji Bunch, Osvaldo Golijov, John Musto, and Paul Schoenfield among others — to create important new works that have already taken their place in the chamber music canon and on CD. A core of brilliant performers who appear regularly with Close Encounters includes: pianists, Roman Rabinovich, Soyeon Kate Lee, Inna Faliks, Max Levinson and Michael Chertock; violinists, Shmuel Ashkenasi, Vadim Gluzman, Julian Rachlin, Peter Zazofsky, Itamar Zorman and Hagai Shaham; clarinetists Alexander Fiterstein and Charles Neidich; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Jennifer Rivera, Danielle Talamantes and Kelley O’Connor; the Muir, Manhattan, Ariel, Vermeer, Escher, Avalon, Hugo Wolf, Dover string quartets; and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and guitarist Eliot Fisk. Choreographer David Parsons and actors Sam Waterston, Richard Chamberlain, Jane Alexander and Sigourney Weaver have also appeared as guests, weaving narration and dance into the fabric of the programs. Close Encounters With Music programs have been presented across the U.S. and Canada—Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Omaha, Cincinnati, Calgary, Detroit, at the Frick Collection and Merkin Hall in New York City, at The Clark in Williamstown, at Tanglewood and in Great Barrington, Mass., as well as the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Summer performances have taken place at the New York State Museum, Basilica Hudson, Orpheum Theatre in Tannersville, and in the orchard at Olana. In its 11th year, the Berkshire High Peaks Festival takes place each July at the Berkshire School in Sheffield, Mass., as the educational mission of Close Encounters With Music with fifty international students in residence for an immersive course of study and performance.

Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani has led the series since its founding, providing entertaining, erudite commentary that puts the composers and their times in perspective to enrich and amplify the concert experience. His charismatic playing and profound interpretations bring him acclaim and re-engagements across the globe. Under Hanani’s leadership, CEWM pushes the boundaries of traditional chamber music through thematic programming that embraces a range of musical idioms, styles, cultural influences, and eras. CEWM, now in its 29th season in the Berkshires, regularly commissions new works (25 to date!) and concert programs often weave music together with theater, dance, and literature. Venues include the landmark Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center and Saint James Place in Great Barrington.

HOW TO REACH US
Close Encounters With Music
Post Office Box 34
Great Barrington, MA 01230
Mahaiwe Box Office: 413.528.0100 www.mahaiwe.org
CEWM: 800.843.0778
Web: www.cewm.org
CEWM e-mail: [email protected]

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FEBRUARY 3, 2021

Did J. S. Bach foresee a pandemic, that would keep musicians apart from one another, when he conceived of and wrote the Unaccompanied Suites for Cello? According to Close Encounters With Music artistic director Yehuda Hanani, the six suites are the most divine music that you can play alone. “Bach has been my constant companions over the past ten months. The suites are chameleon-like and present different faces, depending on your stage of life, your circumstances, what you wish to highlight. They take you the entire distance between the dance floor to the highest spiritual realm, from foot-stomping Breughel to the other-worldliness of Piero de la Francesca…”

Mr. Hanani is widely considered one of the most eloquent, insightful and authoritative proponents of the music of Bach. He has presented master classes focusing on them at festivals and conservatories around the world, and his recording of the suites for TownHall Records and live performances of the cycle have garnered international praise.

Close Encounters With Music, now in its 29th year, has produced and presented a virtual summer festival and four online concerts this past fall. The Bach program is the first of the new Winter/Spring season of concerts that will be recorded on the Mahaiwe stage and made available for viewing online. With these concerts, Close Encounters continues its tradition of chamber music with lively commentary, even in the age of COVID-19. Fall season performances are still available on the Close Encounters With Music YouTube channel.

Again in partnership with the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center and Classical WMHT-FM, the upcoming presentations will include three programs, from February through April. Full descriptions can be found below. Each concert will begin with the same illuminating insights from Yehuda Hanani that audiences have enjoyed for over twenty-eight years, plus an “Afterglow” chat with guest musicians that audiences this year have found especially poignant.

CEWM’s online offerings were launched in July when the decision was made to present an entirely virtual Berkshire High Peaks Festival, with the participation of 46 international string, piano and vocal students, followed by an August livestreamed concert, “From Bach to Bachianas,” a guitar/cello recital featuring Eliot Fisk and Yehuda Hanani on stage in an empty Mahaiwe Theater. These and the October through December concerts that followed, available on cewm.orgmahaiwe.org, both organizations’ YouTube channels, and the Mahaiwe’s Facebook, have collected thousands of views.

CONCERTS IN THE WINTER/SPRING SERIES:

Forever Bach—The Celestial Suites for Unaccompanied Cello
Sunday, February 28, 2021, 7:30 PM EST (mahaiwe.org or cewm.org)
NO CHARGE

A composer beyond time and place, and a journey to transcendence!  J. S. Bach’s Suites are blueprints for cellists of all generations for the construction of temples of sound in time. Though alone with one instrument, “Unaccompanied” is a bit of a misnomer, as they require the performer to be an acoustic illusionist:  Each suite is more like a drama for three or four characters played by one actor, at times presenting a challenge akin to tightrope-walking on a bass line while performing a juggling act!  Yehuda Hanani has juggled and wrestled with the suites for decades, and his recording of the six suites is one of the definitive renditions of this holy of holies for cellists.  “In this era of the cello, Hanani is among the best.  His Bach was absorbing, imaginative, beautiful in all respects.” –San Francisco Examiner; “A consistently expressive artist” –The New York Times.

Yehuda Hanani, cello

The Sebastians Baroque Ensemble
Sunday, April 3, 2021, 7:30 PM EST (mahaiwe.org and cewm.org)
NO CHARGE

The Sebastians connect with audiences through dynamic and vital performances of music of the baroque and classical eras. Known for their “energetic… youthful, vigorous performance style…” they have been called New York’s “leading young early-music ensemble” (The New York Times).  This colorful, varied program will feature Telemann’s “Paris” Quartet, the Fifth Brandenburg Concerto, and works by Vivaldi, CPE Bach, Handel and Porpora, with star roles for harpsichord and baroque flute (traverso).

Jeffrey Grossman, harpsichord; Daniel Lee and Nicholas DiEugenio, violin; Jessica Troy, viola; Ezra Seltzer, violoncello; Nathaniel Chase, violone; David Ross, traverso
Yehuda Hanani, cello

Felix, Fanny and Frederic: Chopin and the Mendelssohns
Sunday, April 25, 2021, 7:30 PM EST (mahaiwe.org and cewm.org)
NO CHARGE

A dazzling pianist, accomplished violinist, composer, conductor, a gifted painter and a gymnast, Felix Mendelssohn enraptured the royal courts and concert halls of Europe before dying at 38, shattered by the sudden death of his beloved sister and musical soul mate, Fanny Hensel.  Beyond extravagant, outsize talent and an early death, Frederic Chopin and Mendelssohn shared a warm friendship.  No one matched Chopin’s genius in the realm of the keyboard, and, as Schumann declared, hearing the incomparably tender and rousing Piano Trio in D minor, “Mendelssohn is the Mozart of the 19th century.”   Fanny’s works were largely consigned to the drawing rooms of fashionable Berlin, but more recently are receiving their due in concert halls and on CD’s, having been rediscovered as works belonging in the classical pantheon. Three faces of Romanticism!

Irina Muresanu, violin; Max Levinson, piano; Yehuda Hanani, cello

Images of the Performing Artists

JANUARY 12, 2021

Close Encounters With Music, now in its 29th year, announces a completely new winter/spring season of concerts that will be recorded on the Mahaiwe stage and made available for viewing online.  With these concerts, Close Encounters continues its tradition of chamber music with lively commentary, even in the age of COVID-19.  These new concerts will offer an exciting mix of chamber music treasures, discoveries and new cutting-edge music, all performed by world-renowned musicians. Four additional concerts, all recorded live from the stage of the Mahaiwe during the summer and fall of 2020, are also still available online at http://www.cewm.org.

And, there are plans afoot for the launch of a Close Encounters With Music Mobile, which will bring outdoor performances in early summer to parks and cultural sites in Berkshire and Hudson Valley towns.

Again in partnership with the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center and Classical WMHT-FM, the upcoming presentations will include three concerts, from February through April.  Full descriptions can be found below.  Each concert will begin with the same illuminating insights from artistic director Yehuda Hanani that audiences have enjoyed for over twenty-eight years, plus an “Afterglow” chat with guest musicians that audiences this year have found especially poignant. “In essence, thanks to our wonderful relationship with the Mahaiwe and our loyal supporters, we are presenting our full season, despite COVID,” says Marcie Setlow, president of the Close Encounters With Music board of directors. 

February and two April concerts will feature the magisterial Bach Cello Suites; New York baroque ensemble The Sebastians in a program of Vivaldi, Handel and CPE Bach; and CEWM favorites violinist Irina Muresanu and pianist Max Levinson with cellist Yehuda Hanani in a program of works by both Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn and by Chopin.

“Throughout history, even under the grimmest of circumstances, the need for music never stopped.  We are resolute and happy to provide performances virtually, as a reminder of the richness and beauty that life should offer,” says Hanani.  “My fellow performers and I have been elated to be reunited on the stage of the Mahaiwe this past fall and to share the bounty of Beethoven, Brahms, Boulanger, etc. online not only with our customary audiences, but also with an expanded public that defies geography. We’re grateful to those who donated to make it possible to offer the four summer/autumn performances and now the three-concert winter/spring series without ticket revenue.”

CEWM’s online offerings were launched in July when the decision was made to present an entirely virtual Berkshire High Peaks Festival, with the participation of 46 international string, piano and vocal students, followed by an August livestreamed concert, “From Bach to Bachianas,” a guitar/cello recital featuring Eliot Fisk and Yehuda Hanani on stage in an empty Mahaiwe Theater. These and the October through December concerts that followed, available on cewm.org, mahaiwe.org, both organizations’ YouTube channels, and the Mahaiwe’s Facebook, have collected thousands of views.

CONCERTS IN THE WINTER/SPRING SERIES:

Forever Bach—The Celestial Suites for Unaccompanied Cello
Sunday, February 28, 2021, 7:30 PM EST (mahaiwe.org or cewm.org)
NO CHARGE

A composer beyond time and place, and a journey to transcendence!  J. S. Bach’s Suites are blueprints for cellists of all generations for the construction of temples of sound in time. Though alone with one instrument, “Unaccompanied” is a bit of a misnomer, as they require the performer to be an acoustic illusionist:  Each suite is more like a drama for three or four characters played by one actor, at times presenting a challenge akin to tightrope-walking on a bass line while performing a juggling act!  Yehuda Hanani has juggled and wrestled with the suites for decades, and his recording of the six suites is one of the definitive renditions of this holy of holies for cellists.  “In this era of the cello, Hanani is among the best.  His Bach was absorbing, imaginative, beautiful in all respects.” –San Francisco Examiner; “A consistently expressive artist” –The New York Times.

Yehuda Hanani, cello

The Sebastians Baroque Ensemble
Sunday, April 3, 2021, 7:30 PM EST (mahaiwe.org and cewm.org)
NO CHARGE

The Sebastians connect with audiences through dynamic and vital performances of music of the baroque and classical eras. Known for their “energetic… youthful, vigorous performance style…” they have been called New York’s “leading young early-music ensemble” (The New York Times).  This colorful, varied program will feature Telemann’s “Paris” Quartet, the Fifth Brandenburg Concerto, and works by Vivaldi, CPE Bach, Handel and Porpora, with star roles for harpsichord and baroque flute (traverso).

Jeffrey Grossman, harpsichord; Daniel Lee and Nicholas DiEugenio, violin; Jessica Troy, viola; Ezra Seltzer, violoncello; Nathaniel Chase, violone; David Ross, traverso
Yehuda Hanani, cello

Felix, Fanny and Frederic: Chopin and the Mendelssohns
Sunday, April 25, 2021, 7:30 PM EST (mahaiwe.org and cewm.org)
NO CHARGE

A dazzling pianist, accomplished violinist, composer, conductor, a gifted painter and a gymnast, Felix Mendelssohn enraptured the royal courts and concert halls of Europe before dying at 38, shattered by the sudden death of his beloved sister and musical soul mate, Fanny Hensel.  Beyond extravagant, outsize talent and an early death, Frederic Chopin and Mendelssohn shared a warm friendship.  No one matched Chopin’s genius in the realm of the keyboard, and, as Schumann declared, hearing the incomparably tender and rousing Piano Trio in D minor, “Mendelssohn is the Mozart of the 19th century.”   Fanny’s works were largely consigned to the drawing rooms of fashionable Berlin, but more recently are receiving their due in concert halls and on CD’s, having been rediscovered as works belonging in the classical pantheon. Three faces of Romanticism!

Irina Muresanu, violin; Max Levinson, piano; Yehuda Hanani, cello

ABOUT CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH MUSIC
Close Encounters With Music is in its 29th year of presenting music and other programming to audiences in the Berkshires and beyond. Entertaining, erudite and lively commentary from founder and Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani puts the composers and their times in perspective to enrich and enlighten the concert experience. Since the inception of its Commissioning Project in 2001, CEWM has worked with the most distinguished composers of our time — Joan Tower, Judith Zaimont, Lera Auerbach, Tamar Muskal, Thea Musgrave, Robert Beaser, Kenji Bunch, Osvaldo Golijov, John Musto, and Paul Schoenfield among others — to create important new works that have already taken their place in the chamber music canon and on CD. A core of brilliant performers who appear regularly with Close Encounters includes: pianists, Roman Rabinovich, Soyeon Kate Lee, Inna Faliks, Max Levinson and Michael Chertock; violinists, Shmuel Ashkenasi, Vadim Gluzman, Julian Rachlin, Peter Zazofsky, Itamar Zorman and Hagai Shaham; clarinetists Alexander Fiterstein and Charles Neidich; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Jennifer Rivera, Danielle Talamantes and Kelley O’Connor; the Muir, Manhattan, Ariel, Vermeer, Escher, Avalon, Hugo Wolf, Dover string quartets; and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and guitarist Eliot Fisk. Choreographer David Parsons and actors Sam Waterston, Richard Chamberlain, Jane Alexander and Sigourney Weaver have also appeared as guests, weaving narration and dance into the fabric of the programs. Close Encounters With Music programs have been presented across the U.S. and Canada—Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Omaha, Cincinnati, Calgary, Detroit, at the Frick Collection and Merkin Hall in New York City, at The Clark in Williamstown, at Tanglewood and in Great Barrington, Mass., as well as the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Summer performances have taken place at the New York State Museum, Basilica Hudson, Orpheum Theatre in Tannersville, and in the orchard at Olana. In its 11th year, the Berkshire High Peaks Festival takes place each July at the Berkshire School in Sheffield, Mass., as the educational mission of Close Encounters With Music with fifty international students in residence for an immersive course of study and performance.

Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani has led the series since its founding, providing entertaining, erudite commentary that puts the composers and their times in perspective to enrich and amplify the concert experience. His charismatic playing and profound interpretations bring him acclaim and re-engagements across the globe. Under Hanani’s leadership, CEWM pushes the boundaries of traditional chamber music through thematic programming that embraces a range of musical idioms, styles, cultural influences, and eras. CEWM, now in its 29th season in the Berkshires, regularly commissions new works (25 to date!) and concert programs often weave music together with theater, dance, and literature. Venues include the landmark Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center and Saint James Place in Great Barrington.

Fireworks Conductor and Snow

DECEMBER 8, 2020

Close Encounters With Music and its educational arm, Berkshire High Peaks Festival, invite classical music enthusiasts around the globe to ring in the New Year with a three-day session for pianists, string players, vocalists and lay audiences, sending a message of fortitude and meeting the challenges of COVID-19 with optimism and purpose.

Established twelve years ago as a summer destination for internationally acclaimed musicians and stars of tomorrow in scenic upstate New York and the Berkshires of Massachusetts, High Peaks was conducted entirely virtually in July 2020, with the participation of forty-six international students and twelve faculty members presenting over 22 events and webinars with outstanding success—also in forging a sense of a musical community and camaraderie from across continents.

The January “reunion” is designed to alleviate a sense of professional isolation, to counter the uncertainty and the void the pandemic has created with concrete suggestions and recommendations, stimulating master classes, panel discussions and advice from wellness specialists. The intention is to maintain the high level of excitement that has been a hallmark of twelve years of summer residencies.

“We want to keep the flames of passion and commitment, dedication and love for our chosen profession blazing,” says founder and Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani. “We are finding ways to relieve the loneliness that has been imposed on us, which is especially grievous in light of the diminished opportunities to collaborate in person with fellow performers. This will be a celebration of possibilities and achievements of alumni and faculty.

Events planned for the mini-festival include:

• Distinguished professionals will recount how they are coping, overcoming, and staying productive. These include first cellist of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic, Diego Fainguersch; chamber music instructor at Hanns Eisler Conservatory in Berlin, Wayne Foster Smith; cello instructor at the Thelma Yellin School of the Arts in Tel Aviv, Chagit Glaser; and versatile classical/Jazz pianist Mikael Darmanie. All are former students of Mr. Hanani at the Peabody Conservatory and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Each will reflect on what has changed, how music schools and organizations are functioning, and what the future looks like in their parts of the world.

• International director Crystal Manich, whose work of over 60 full-scale productions in opera, plays and musical theater has been seen worldwide, and whose recent work during Covid-19 includes Cosi fan tutte for Pittsburgh Opera with masks and social distancing for streaming, will offer tips for virtual auditions and performances – “Classical Music and Practices for the Digital Realm.”

• Master classes with festival faculty: pianist Alexander Shtarkman (Peabody Conservatory); violinists Irina Muresanu (University of Maryland) and Peter Zazofsky (Boston University); cellist Yehuda Hanani (Mannes School of Music); Metropolitan Opera soprano Danielle Talamantes; baritone Kerry Wilkerson (George Mason University) and more!

• “The Art of Interpretation” – a talk by Yehuda Hanani that applies to all of the performance arts, addressing the wonder of classical music and how it is kept dazzlingly alive through the prism of every age.

• Dr. Arnold Cohen and Dr. Mark Cannon, both psychiatrists and musicians, will offer morale-boosting advice on how to turn the challenges of Covid-19 into opportunities for personal and professional growth.

• How to Maintain Your String Instrument during the winter of Covid with violinmaker Francis Morris

A full schedule for January 3, 4 and 5 happenings will be posted on the festival website prior to January 1 – http://www.berkshirehighpeaksmusic.org/ The entire festival reunion is FREE and open to ALL.

Photographs of Performing Artists

SEPTEMBER 17, 2020

Embarking on its 29th year of presenting outstanding chamber music with lively commentary, the Berkshires’ premier chamber music organization Close Encounters With Music embraces its second quarter-century with a new season of chamber music treasures and discoveries, world-renowned musicians and extraordinary new faces, original programming of classical, contemporary and cutting-edge music—streamed online throughout the fall to meet the challenges facing live performing arts. The continuation of the regular in-person Season 2021 is pending COVID-19 developments.

“Even under the most dire of circumstances, throughout history, the need for music never stopped. We are resolute and happy to provide performances virtually as a reminder of the richness and beauty that life should offer,” says Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani. “I’m elated to be reunited with my friends and colleagues on the stage of the Mahaiwe and to share the bounty of Beethoven, Brahms, Boulanger, etc. online with not only our customary audiences, but also with an expanded public that defies geography. We’re grateful to those who are donating to this Autumn Series making it possible to offer these performances without ticket revenue.”

Close Encounters With Music will partner with the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center and Classical WMHT-FM to present the series of three concerts October through December filmed live from the Mahaiwe stage and available for everyone to access—with the illuminating and personal insights from artistic director Hanani that audiences have enjoyed for over twenty-eight years, plus an “Afterglow” chat with guest musicians.

CEWM online offerings were launched in July when the decision was made to present an entirely virtual Berkshire High Peaks Festival, with the participation of 46 international string, piano and vocal students, followed by the August 2nd live-streamed concert, “From Bach to Bachianas,” a guitar/cello recital featuring Eliot Fisk and Yehuda Hanani on stage in an empty Mahaiwe theater. Videos of festival presentations and more are available on the Close Encounters With Music YouTube Channel.

ABOUT CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH MUSIC

Close Encounters With Music stands at the intersection of music, art and the vast richness of Western culture. Entertaining, erudite and lively commentary from founder and Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani puts the composers and their times in perspective to enrich and enlighten the concert experience. Since the inception of its Commissioning Project in 2001, CEWM has worked with the most distinguished composers of our time—Joan Tower, Thea Musgrave, Lera Auerbach, Robert Beaser, Kenji Bunch, Osvaldo Golijov, John Musto, and Paul Schoenfield among others—to create important new works that have already taken their place in the chamber music canon and on CD. A core of brilliant performers includes: pianists, Roman Rabinovich, Soyeon Kate Lee, Max Levinson and Michael Chertock; violinists, Shmuel Ashkenasi, Vadim Gluzman, Julian Rachlin, Peter Zazofsky, Itamar Zorman and Hagai Shaham; clarinetists Alexander Fiterstein and Charles Neidich; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Danielle Talamantes and Kelley O’Connor; the Muir, Manhattan, Ariel, Vermeer, Escher, Avalon, Hugo Wolf, Dover string quartets; and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and guitarist Eliot Fisk. Choreographer David Parsons and actors Richard Chamberlain, Sam Waterston, Jane Alexander and Sigourney Weaver have also appeared as guests, weaving narration and dance into the fabric of the programs. Close Encounters With Music programs have been presented across the U.S. and Canada—Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Omaha, Cincinnati, Calgary, Detroit, at the Frick Collection and Merkin Hall in New York City, at The Clark in Williamstown, at Tanglewood and in Great Barrington, MA, as well as the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Summer performances have taken place at the New York State Museum, Basilica Hudson, Orpheum Theatre in Tannersville, and in the orchard at Olana. In its 11th year, the Berkshire High Peaks Festival takes place virtually July 20-31 with over 20 free concerts, talks and masterclasses available to audiences everywhere: www.berkshirehighpeaksmusic.org

Photograph of Eliot Fisk and Yehuda Hanani Playing Music

JULY 27, 2020

Great Barrington, Mass.— Close Encounters With Music and the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center are partnering to present a free virtual recital, From Bach to Bachianas, with guitarist Eliot Fisk and cellist Yehuda Hanani, Sunday, August 2 at 5:30pm. The performance will be streamed live from the Mahaiwe stage to Facebook. Information can be found on mahaiwe.org.

“The Mahaiwe has been our home in the Berkshires from the day it opened as a performance venue, and we have been the chamber music series in residence,” says Close Encounters With Music’s Hanani. “The Close Encounters With Music family — our audience members and artists — cherish the beautiful and elegant hall and we miss our sense of community and the Afterglow receptions on stage. We eagerly look forward to resuming presentations with true ‘close encounters’ with our loyal audience. Playing on the familiar stage with Eliot Fisk, we hope to send a message of hope through the gift of music.”

“I am delighted that we are able to partner with Close Encounters With Music to have these two masterful and acclaimed musicians filling the acoustically generous space inside the Mahaiwe with sound,” says Acting Executive Director Janis Martinson. “For both of our audiences, we hope this online concert will feel like a homecoming.”

The program includes works by Schubert, Gabriel Fauré, Villa-Lobos, Ernesto Lecuona, Cesar Cui, J. S. Bach and Vittorio Monti’s Gypsy Czardas. All are original arrangements by the two performers.

The guitar, the most prominent instrument of the Renaissance, and the cello, which had its flowering in the 19th century, will blend sonorities of plucked and bowed strings. The two performers have appeared together for over a decade across the U.S. (Phoenix, Chicago, Aspen, The Frick Collection in NYC), bringing together their combined mastery, superb musicianship and strong musical profiles, as well as their embrace of many styles, composers and periods to enrich possibilities for their respective instruments. Their collaborative CD, “Songs Without Words” on Albany Records, was warmly welcomed as a successful new genre:

“The thought of the cello as respresenting the human voice is brought out beautifully in these arrangements, made with taste and played with love.” (American Record Guide)

“By the time we reach the first Spanish-flavored selection in this generous cello-and-guitar duet program, anyone will be won over by how successful the combination is. …In short, a superb CD…Highly recommended for lovers of the cello, guitar, and songs in general.” (Fanfare)

Known worldwide for his adventurous repertoire and willingness to take art music into unusual venues (logging camps and prisons!), Eliot Fisk has performed to dazzling critical and public acclaim in recital, as soloist with major orchestras and in a wide variety of chamber music combinations, including a command performance for President Bill Clinton and King Juan Carlos of Spain. He has expanded the repertoire for the guitar through countless transcriptions and through commissions from leading composers as varied as Luciano Berio, William Bolcom and George Rochberg. Fisk is the last student of the legendary Andres Segovia, and was awarded the Cruz of Isabel la Catolica for his service to the cause of Spanish music.

Yehuda Hanani is renowned for performances with orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Berlin Radio Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, BBC Welsh Symphony, Irish National Symphony, Buenos Aires Philharmonic, Jerusalem Symphony, Belgrade Philharmonic and Taipei and Seoul symphonies, among many others. His pioneering recording of the monumental Alkan Cello Sonata received a Grand Prix du Disque nomination, and his other discs have won wide recognition. His engaging chamber music with commentary series, Close Encounters With Music, has captivated audiences from Miami to Kansas City, Omaha, Calgary, Scottsdale, and the Berkshires.

Close Encounters on the Radio/Podcast

Close Encounters With Music concerts are broadcast on WMHT-FM, and audiences are encouraged to tune in to the new weekly broadcasts of “Classical Music According to Yehuda” on WAMC Northeast Radio or visit www.wamc.org.

ABOUT CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH MUSIC

Close Encounters With Music stands at the intersection of music, art and the vast richness of Western culture. Entertaining, erudite and lively commentary from founder and Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani puts the composers and their times in perspective to enrich and enlighten the concert experience. Since the inception of its Commissioning Project in 2001, CEWM has worked with the most distinguished composers of our time—Joan Tower, Thea Musgrave, Lera Auerbach, Robert Beaser, Kenji Bunch, Osvaldo Golijov, John Musto, and Paul Schoenfield among others—to create important new works that have already taken their place in the chamber music canon and on CD. A core of brilliant performers includes: pianists, Roman Rabinovich, Soyeon Kate Lee, Max Levinson and Michael Chertock; violinists, Shmuel Ashkenasi, Vadim Gluzman, Julian Rachlin, Peter Zazofsky, Itamar Zorman and Hagai Shaham; clarinetists Alexander Fiterstein and Charles Neidich; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Danielle Talamantes and Kelley O’Connor; the Muir, Manhattan, Ariel, Vermeer, Escher, Avalon, Hugo Wolf, Dover string quartets; and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and guitarist Eliot Fisk. Choreographer David Parsons and actors Richard Chamberlain, Sam Waterston, Jane Alexander and Sigourney Weaver have also appeared as guests, weaving narration and dance into the fabric of the programs. Close Encounters With Music programs have been presented across the U.S. and Canada—Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Omaha, Cincinnati, Calgary, Detroit, at the Frick Collection and Merkin Hall in New York City, at The Clark in Williamstown, at Tanglewood and in Great Barrington, MA, as well as the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Summer performances have taken place at the New York State Museum, Basilica Hudson, Orpheum Theatre in Tannersville, and in the orchard at Olana. In its 11th year, the Berkshire High Peaks Festival takes place virtually July 20-31 with over 20 free concerts, talks and masterclasses available to audiences everywhere: www.berkshirehighpeaksmusic.org

Yehuda Hanani sitting with Cello

JULY 24, 2020

Berkshire High Peaks Festival is a 10-day summer intensive for cellists, violinists, violists and pianists that began 11 years ago as Catskill High Peaks Festival in Hunter, N.Y. and Tannersville, N.Y. Two years ago, this international gathering of music professionals and students relocated to Berkshire School in Sheffield, which had been home of Berkshire Choral Festival (now Berkshire Choral International) for more than three decades, beginning in 1982.

This year, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, High Peaks’ open-to-the-public master classes, lectures and concerts — which began July 22 and run through July 31 — have gone from in-person to virtual. Events can be accessed via Zoom and YouTube. Complete registration information and links are available at berkshirehighpeaksmusic.org.

The summer operation is under the wing of Close Encounters With Music and its founding artistic director, Yehuda Hanani.

Close Encounters With Music is primarily a fall-winter-spring series of chamber music concerts with commentary presented at two Great Barrington venues: Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center and St. James Place.

Hanani is a cellist who has performed in a variety of chamber ensembles, special collaborations, and as soloist with, among others, Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Berlin Radio Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, BBC Welsh Symphony, and Jerusalem Symphony. Beyond his accomplishments with the cello, Hanani is an essayist, teacher, and host of a weekly broadcast/podcast on WAMC-FM. This year he joins the faculty of the Mannes School of Music in New York.

In this Take Five, he talks about High Peaks and making music.

1. What led you to establish High Peaks 11 seasons ago? How did it come together?

I was on the faculty of many music festivals at the time — Aspen, Bowdoin, Great Lakes, Round Top, Great Wall, China, etc. and was also directing a festival in Taiwan. When I was approached by a group of students to continue our conservatory work informally over the summer, this was meant to be personal, non-institutional, with shared meals, hikes and enjoying the beauty of the Hudson Valley and Berkshires as a backdrop to serious immersion. We began with strings, added piano, and recently a vocal department, but have managed to retain the spontaneity and freshness of our origins. We held early sessions in Hunter and Tannersville, hosted by the Catskill Mountain Foundation, then moved to the beautiful Carey Center for Global Good in Rensselaerville, N.Y. Two years ago, at the request of board members of Close Encounters With Music, we moved our base to the Berkshire School campus in Sheffield, and were scheduled to be there again this summer before the pandemic struck. It has become the educational initiative of Close Encounters, and we currently have 46 students, despite COVID-19.

2. What were the particular challenges in taking High Peaks virtual this summer?

The technology is far from perfect for large presentations. Obviously, not being together in one location presents many hurdles. We’re in numerous time zones, and for instance, with the 13-hour time difference, the only time our faculty can teach students in Korea is late at night. And there is no possibility for s’mores by the fire at night. … Since chamber music is at the heart of what we do, we have had to abandon (the time lag makes felicitous ensemble playing an impossibility) sonatas, trios, etc. and concentrate on solo repertoire. Our vocalists, though, have prerecorded piano accompaniment segments. What the public sees that appears to be musicians playing together in unison, is actually a pastiche put together by engineers who lend the videos an illusion of reality. To sum up, what’s missing is human contact! Instead, we substituted additional lessons and packed the 10 days with stimulating talks and master classes by composer Joan Tower, supreme guitarist Eliot Fisk, former members of the Kronos and Cleveland quartets, etc. There are over 22 public presentations. And I have to salute our remarkable faculty, which includes violinists Peter Zazofsky and Irina Muresanu; Met soprano Danielle Talamantes; former Chautauqua opera director Jay Lesenger, and other towering musicians.

3. What do you hope people will find in High Peaks and what would you hope they will take away from a High Peaks experience?

A passion for their future profession, resilience, problem-solving skills, original thinking and belief in a better tomorrow.

4. In addition to being artistic director of High Peaks and Close Encounters With Music, you are a cellist. So, what are the particular rewards, the satisfactions in making music both as an artistic director and as an instrumentalist?

They are all one and the same: communicating this most abstract of art forms and sharing the magic of the transformation of sounds into meaning.

5. What do you like to do in your off-hours to relax, when you’re not making music?

I’m quite an accomplished baker, using exotic flours like coconut, amaranth, buckwheat, etc. We’re surrounded by plants — indoors and outdoors — so taking care of the Segalyana palms, the bougainvillea, sorrel, etc. is part or the routine. And I’m a voracious reader. When I’m not actively practicing, rehearsing, corresponding with students around the world, I can be found dreaming up new artistic adventures, connecting music, art and history to tantalize our CEWM audiences.

Photographs of the Performing Artists

FEBRUARY 13, 2020

(Great Barrington…) The greatest period of creativity among French composers coincides with the emergence of Impressionist art. Attempting to define that French “je ne sais quoi” is as elusive as describing a bottle of Château Petrus.  But, as exemplified by the music of Fauré (Piano Quartet No. 1), Debussy (the prophetically daring cello Sonate), Saint-Saëns (Rondo Capriccioso) and Lili Boulanger (D’un matin de printemps), tension between elegance, restraint and intense fervor is a hallmark of the French aesthetic. There is passion, powerful emotion and a remarkable level of concentration. The mood is sensuous, pleasure-oriented, delicately colored and shimmering with élan.  Refinement is balanced with brilliant instrumental display in what is one of Fauré’s rare virtuoso pieces, in Saint-Saëns’ violin showpiece and Debussy’s 1918 captivating master work for cello. For sheer glamour and artistic vitality, late-19th and early 20th century Paris has not been surpassed and gave rise to lasting new isms and musical portraitists who created some of the best loved classical music of today. It’s the magic that was Paris. 

Rachel Lee Priday, violin; Dov Scheindlin, viola; Mikael Darmanie, piano; Yehuda Hanani, cello

In the Close Encounters With Music tradition, each performance is followed by an AFTERGLOW reception, with hors d’oeuvres and wine provided by local restaurants.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS: 

Yehuda Hanani’s charismatic cello playing and profound interpretations bring him acclaim and re-engagements around the globe. An extraordinary recitalist, he is equally renowned for performances with orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Berlin Radio Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, BBC Welsh Symphony, Irish National Symphony, Buenos Aires Philharmonic, Honolulu Symphony, Jerusalem Symphony, Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, I Solisti Zagreb, and Taipei and Seoul symphonies, among others. He has been a guest at Aspen, Bowdoin, Chautauqua, Marlboro, Yale at Norfolk, Round Top (TX), Great Lakes, and Grand Canyon festivals, Finland Festival, Great Wall (China), Leicester (England), Ottawa, Prades (France), Oslo, and Australia Chamber Music festivals, and has collaborated in performances with preeminent fellow musicians, including Leon Fleisher, Aaron Copland, Christoph Eschenbach, David Robertson, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Itzhak Perlman, Julian Rachlin, Vadim Repin, Dawn Upshaw, Shlomo Mintz, Yefim Bronfman, Eliot Fisk, the Tokyo, Escher, Vermeer, Muir, Lark, Avalon and Manhattan quartets, as well as members of the Cleveland, Juilliard, Borromeo, and Emerson. In New York City, Yehuda Hanani has appeared as soloist at Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street Y, Alice Tully, The Frick, and at the Metropolitan Museum’s Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium. In addition to his pioneering recordings of Charles Valentin Alkan (for which he received a Grand Prix du Disque nomination), Nikolai Miaskovsky, Leo Ornstein, and Eduard Franck, he is one of the originators of thematic programming with commentary that engages and illuminates contemporary audiences. Professor of Cello at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory and past faculty member at the Peabody Conservatory, he joins the faculty at the Mannes School of Music in New York City in 2020.

“The sonatas came bounding to life in vital interpretations rich in imaginative detail and virile strength.  Mr. Hanani was rightly rewarded with cheers from the audience.” –The New York Times                

“Soulful, fiery performance.” –The New York Times                                                                      

As a soloist, Mikael Darmanie has performed throughout the Americas, Europe, Russia and the Caribbean. Recent festival appearances have included: The Weil Institute at Carnegie, Trinity Wall Street, Prototype, Bang on a Can Marathon, Close Encounters With Music, Berkshire High Peaks Festival, Cape Cod Symphony Nth Degree, Pianofest in the Hamptons, the Mozarteum, Mainly Mozart, and L’Acadèmie de Musique de Sion, to name a few. As a member of the Warp Trio, he performs throughout the world in genres ranging from jazz to hip-hop, rock, fusion and electronic music.and as a DJ. In his travels he regularly presents masterclasses and workshops in classical music and in various forms of improvisation. Since his debut as a conductor with the Carolina Chamber Symphony in 2008, he has performed throughout the U.S., conducting various piano concerti from the keyboard and symphonic works. Also a composer, his works have been performed in the U. S., Europe and Russia; and he has been a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow. He is currently pursuing a doctorate degree at SUNY Stony Brook under the guidance of Gilbert Kalish.

Violinist Rachel Lee Priday is a passionate and inquisitive explorer in all her musical ventures, in search of contemporary relevance when performing the standard violin repertoire, and in discovering and commissioning new works. Her wide-ranging repertoire and eclectic programming reflect a deep fascination with literary and cultural narratives. She has appeared as soloist with major international orchestras, including the Chicago, Saint Louis, Houston, Seattle, Buffalo and National Symphony Orchestras, the Boston Pops, and the Berlin Staatskapelle, and with orchestras in Graz, Austria, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Korea, where she performed with the KBS Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic and Russian State Symphony Orchestra on tour. Recital appearances have brought her to eminent venues including the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center, Musée du Louvre, Verbier Festival, Ravinia Festival and Dame Myra Hess Memorial Series in Chicago, and tours of South Africa and the UK. Recent seasons have seen a new violin sonata commissioned from Pulitzer Prize Finalist Christopher Cerrone and the premiere of Matthew Aucoin’s “The Orphic Moment” in an innovative staging that mixed poetry, drama, visuals, and music. Rachel has collaborated with Ballet San Jose, and was lead performer in Tchaikovsky: None But The Lonely Heart during a week-long theatrical concert with Ensemble for the Romantic Century at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). Her work as soloist with the Asia America New Music Institute promoted new music relationships and cultural exchange between Asia and the Americas, combining new music premieres and educational outreach in the US, China, Korea and Vietnam. Ms. Priday began her violin studies at the age of four in Chicago. Shortly thereafter, she moved to New York to study with Dorothy DeLay, and continued at the Juilliard School Pre-College Division with Itzhak Perlman. She holds a B.A. degree in English from Harvard University and an M.M. from New England Conservatory, where she studied with Miriam Fried. As of Fall 2019, she serves as Assistant Professor of Violin at the University of Washington School of Music. She has been profiled in The New Yorker, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle Magazine, and The Strad. Praised by the Chicago Tribune for her “irresistible panache,” Rachel Lee Priday enthralls audiences with her riveting stage presence and “rich, mellifluous sound.” She performs on a Nicolo Gagliano violin (Naples, 1760) double-purfled with fleurs-de-lis, named Alejandro.

Acclaimed by the New York Times as an “extraordinary violist” of “immense flair,” Dov Scheindlin is a member of Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and an associate member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. He has also been violist of the Arditti, Penderecki and Chester String Quartets. His chamber music career has brought him to 28 countries around the globe and won him the Siemens Prize in 1999. He has appeared as soloist with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, the Radio Symphony Orchestra of Berlin, the Paris Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and the Munich Philharmonic. Mr. Scheindlin has recorded extensively for EMI, Teldec, Auvidis, and Mode, and won the Gramophone Award in 2002 for the Arditti Quartet’s recording of Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s Pulse Shadows. As a member of the Arditti Quartet, he gave nearly 100 world premières, among them new works by Benjamin Britten, Elliott Carter, György Kurtág, Thomas Adès and Wolfgang Rihm. He has also been broadcast on NPR, BBC, CBC, and on German, French, Swiss, Austrian, Dutch and Belgian national radio networks. Dov Scheindlin was raised in New York City, where he studied with Samuel Rhodes and William Lincer at the Juilliard School. He has taught viola and chamber music at Harvard, Wilfrid Laurier University and Tanglewood. He regularly participates in summer festivals such as Salzburg, Luzern, and Tanglewood, and has performed with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Met Chamber Ensembles. His chamber music partners have included members of the Juilliard, Alban Berg, Tokyo, and Borodin String Quartets, as well as concertmasters of many major symphony orchestras. He plays a viola made by Francesco Bissolotti in 1975.

Close Encounters on the Radio/Podcast

Close Encounters With Music concerts are broadcast on WMHT-FM, and audiences are encouraged to tune in to the new weekly broadcasts of “Classical Music According to Yehuda” on WAMC Northeast Radio or visit www.wamc.org.

ABOUT CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH MUSIC

Close Encounters With Music stands at the intersection of music, art and the vast richness of Western culture. Entertaining, erudite and lively commentary from founder and Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani puts the composers and their times in perspective to enrich and enlighten the concert experience. Since the inception of its Commissioning Project in 2001, CEWM has worked with the most distinguished composers of our time—Joan Tower, Judith Zaimont, Lera Auerbach, Robert Beaser, Kenji Bunch, Osvaldo Golijov, John Musto, and Paul Schoenfield among others—to create important new works that have already taken their place in the chamber music canon and on CD. A core of brilliant performers includes: pianists, Roman Rabinovich, Soyeon Kate Lee, Inna Faliks, Max Levinson and Michael Chertock; violinists,Shmuel Ashkenasi, Vadim Gluzman, Julian Rachlin, Peter Zazofsky, Itamar Zorman and Hagai Shaham; clarinetists Alexander Fiterstein and Charles Neidich; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Jennifer Rivera, Danielle Talamantes and Kelley O’Connor; the Muir, Manhattan, Ariel, Vermeer, Escher, Avalon, Hugo Wolf, Dover string quartets; and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and guitarist Eliot Fisk. Choreographer David Parsons and actors Richard Chamberlain, Jane Alexander and Sigourney Weaver have also appeared as guests, weaving narration and dance into the fabric of the programs. Close Encounters With Music programs have been presented in cities across the U.S. and Canada—Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Omaha, Cincinnati, Calgary, Detroit, at the Frick Collection and Merkin Hall in New York City, at The Clark in Williamstown, at Tanglewood and in Great Barrington, MA, as well as in Scottsdale, AZ. Summer performances have taken place at the New York State Museum, Basilica Hudson, Orpheum Theatre in Tannersville, and in the orchard at Olana. In its 10th year, the High Peaks Festival takes place in July-August at the Berkshire School in Sheffield, MA, as the educational mission of Close Encounters With Music with fifty international students in residence for an immersive course of study and performance.

Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani has led the series since its founding, providing entertaining, erudite commentary that puts the composers and their times in perspective to enrich and amplify the concert experience. His charismatic playing and profound interpretations bring him acclaim and re-engagements across the globe. Each concert is framed by an introduction before the music, and is followed by an AFTERGLOW reception with an opportunity to meet the musicians. Venues include the landmark Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center and the newly renovated Saint James Place in Great Barrington. To complement the musical offerings, two guest speakers, Musician and Analyst, Melinda Haas and Neurological Researcher, Concetta Tomaino are featured in the current Conversations With…series at the Seven Hills Inn and Edith Wharton’s The Mount in Lenox, MA. 

Photographs of the Performing Artists

JANUARY 8, 2020

(Great Barrington…) Two enduring treasures of the chamber music canon lift us into the realm of the transcendent and channel the Viennese tradition: Schubert’s Trio in B flat Major and Brahms’ in B Major were both written or rewritten towards the end of the composers’ lives. Both display masterful sculpting of heavenly melodies coupled with passion and heady romanticism.  Brahms makes use of the piano to create a symphonic sweep, and is in the best of hands with pianist Max Levinson (“Brilliant…He uses his wide spectrum of pianistic mechanics for altogether poetic ends, touching the listener deeply and often”—Los Angeles Times), violinist Peter Zazofsky and cellist Yehuda Hanani (“The sonatas came bounding to life in vital interpretations rich in imaginative detail and virile strength….Rightly rewarded with cheers from the audience.”—New York Times).  Schubert’s trio, despite having been written in the difficult last year of his life, conveys triumph and tenderness.  

As Robert Schumann aptly wrote, “One glance at Schubert’s trio and the troubles of our existence vanish, the world takes on fresh luster.” 

“What unites the two trios, apart from celestial melodies, grandeur, joy, mystery and beauty, is that they are both at the heart of Romanticism and reflect the highest achievement of Schubert and Brahms,” says Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani. “To call them epic or transformative pieces is not an overstatement!”

Max Levinson, piano; Peter Zazofsky, violin; Yehuda Hanani, cello

In the Close Encounters With Music tradition, each performance is followed by an AFTERGLOW reception, with hors d’oeuvres and wine provided by local restaurants

TICKET INFORMATION
Tickets, $52 online or by phone 800-843-0778

ABOUT THE ARTISTS: 

Yehuda Hanani’s charismatic cello playing and profound interpretations bring him acclaim and re-engagements around the globe. An extraordinary recitalist, he is equally renowned for performances with orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Berlin Radio Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, BBC Welsh Symphony, Buenos Aires Philharmonic, Honolulu Symphony, Jerusalem Symphony, Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, I Solisti Zagreb, and Taipei and Seoul symphonies, among others. He has been a guest at Aspen, Bowdoin, Chautauqua, Marlboro, Yale at Norfolk, Round Top (TX), Great Lakes, and Grand Canyon festivals, Finland Festival, Great Wall (China), Leicester (England), Ottawa, Prades (France), Oslo, and Australia Chamber Music festivals, and has collaborated in performances with preeminent fellow musicians, including Leon Fleisher, Aaron Copland, Christoph Eschenbach, David Robertson, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Itzhak Perlman, Julian Rachlin, Vadim Repin, Dawn Upshaw, Shlomo Mintz, Yefim Bronfman, Eliot Fisk, the Tokyo, Escher, Vermeer, Muir, Lark, Avalon and Manhattan quartets, as well as members of the Cleveland, Juilliard, Borromeo, and Emerson. In New York City, Yehuda Hanani has appeared as soloist at Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street Y, Alice Tully, The Frick, and at the Metropolitan Museum’s Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium. In addition to his pioneering recordings of Charles Valentin Alkan (for which he received a Grand Prix du Disque nomination), Nikolai Miaskovsky, Leo Ornstein, and Eduard Franck, he is one of the originators of thematic programming with commentary that engages and illuminates contemporary audiences. Professor of Cello at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory and past faculty member at the Peabody Conservatory, he will join the faculty at the Mannes School of Music in New York City in 2020.

“The sonatas came bounding to life in vital interpretations rich in imaginative detail and virile strength.  Mr. Hanani was rightly rewarded with cheers from the audience.” –The New York Times                

“Soulful, fiery performance.” –The New York Times     

Pianist Max Levinson’s career was launched when he won first prize at the Guardian Dublin International Piano Competition, the first American to achieve this distinction. He was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant and in 2005, the Andrew Wolf Award for his chamber music playing. The Boston Globe proclaimed: “The questioning, conviction, and feeling in his playing invariably remind us of the deep reasons why music is important to us, why we listen to it, why we care so much about it.” Levinson has performed as soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, New World Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Oregon Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Utah Symphony, Boston Pops, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland among others. He has worked with such conductors as Robert Spano, Neemi Järvi, Uriel Segal, Joseph Swensen, Jeffrey Kahane and Alasdair Neale. Artistic Director of the San Juan Chamber Music Festival (Ouray, Colorado), he has appeared at major music festivals including Mostly Mozart, Santa Fe, Marlboro, Tanglewood, La Jolla, Bravo/Vail, Seattle, Killington, Vancouver, Cartagena, and Switzerland’s Davos Festival. Max Levinson garnered international accolades for his two recordings. Max Levinson, his debut recording, traces the musical lineage between Brahms, Schumann, Schönberg and Kirchner. American Record Guide declared Levinson’s second disc, Out of Doors: Piano Music of Béla Bartók “an important recording and a great one. The disc blew me out of my chair….Hearing performances as riveting as these produces a rare frisson; indeed, this is the most brilliant and exciting Bartók piano disc I have heard. On the basis of only two recordings, Mr. Levinson has created the myth of a pianist with everything.” He has experimented with internet broadcast, served as Artist-in-Residence at Harvard University’s Lowell House for four years, and has been featured on NPR’s “Performance Today” and “A Note to You.” He has also taught master classes at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Harvard, MIT, Brigham Young University, Rutgers, the University of Washington, UCLA, the Colburn School, and Boston University. Mr. Levinson is chair of the Piano department at the Boston Conservatory, and is also a faculty member at the New England Conservatory.

Violinist Peter Zazofsky has enjoyed a richly varied career as a soloist, chamber musician and educator that spans thirty years and thirty countries on five continents. He has performed with many of the great orchestras in the U.S. and Europe, including the Boston Symphony, Berlin Philharmonic, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Atlanta, Minnsota, and Hong Kong, collaborating with maestros Tennstedt, Ozawa, Ormandy, Kurt Sanderling and Charles Dutoit. As a recitalist, Mr. Zazofsky has given innovative programs in Carnegie Hall, Sala Cecilia Meireles in Rio de Janeiro, Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels and the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires. He also tours the world’s music centers as first violinist of the Muir String Quartet, for which he has performed many complete cycles of the Beethoven quartets. A native of Boston, he first studied with Joseph Silverstein before entering the Curtis Institute, where he continued with Ivan Galamian, Dorothy Delay and Jaime Laredo. Graduating in 1976, Zazofsky went on to win top prizes in several international violin contests, including the 1979 Montreal Competition and 1980 Queen Elisabeth in Brussels. He is a frequent visitor to Israel, where he has given over forty performances of concerti, from Beethoven and Sibelius to Bach, Berg and Brahms. In recent years Peter Zazofsky added several new facets to his career. He has given premieres of new works written for him by composers in Holland, Belgium, Denmark and Spain, and he recorded concerti by Robert Chumbley and Frederick van Rossum in Belgium and Poland. He has also encouraged the creation of new works by American composers Joan Tower, Sheila Silver and Richard Danielpour. Long committed to teaching, Zazofsky holds the position of Associate Professor of Violin and Chamber Music at Boston University and serves as a jury member for the violin competitions in Montreal, Brussels and Odense, Denmark.

Close Encounters on the Radio/Podcast

Close Encounters With Music concerts are broadcast on WMHT-FM, and audiences are encouraged to tune in to the new weekly broadcasts of “Classical Music According to Yehuda” on WAMC Northeast Radio or visit www.wamc.org.

ABOUT CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH MUSIC

Close Encounters With Music stands at the intersection of music, art and the vast richness of Western culture. Entertaining, erudite and lively commentary from founder and Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani puts the composers and their times in perspective to enrich and enlighten the concert experience. Since the inception of its Commissioning Project in 2001, CEWM has worked with the most distinguished composers of our time—Joan Tower, Judith Zaimont, Lera Auerbach, Robert Beaser, Kenji Bunch, Osvaldo Golijov, John Musto, and Paul Schoenfield among others—to create important new works that have already taken their place in the chamber music canon and on CD. A core of brilliant performers includes: pianists, Roman Rabinovich, Soyeon Kate Lee, Inna Faliks, Max Levinson and Michael Chertock; violinists,Shmuel Ashkenasi, Vadim Gluzman, Julian Rachlin, Peter Zazofsky, Itamar Zorman and Hagai Shaham; clarinetists Alexander Fiterstein and Charles Neidich; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Jennifer Rivera, Danielle Talamantes and Kelley O’Connor; the Muir, Manhattan, Ariel, Vermeer, Escher, Avalon, Hugo Wolf, Dover string quartets; and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and guitarist Eliot Fisk. Choreographer David Parsons and actors Richard Chamberlain, Jane Alexander and Sigourney Weaver have also appeared as guests, weaving narration and dance into the fabric of the programs. Close Encounters With Music programs have been presented in cities across the U.S. and Canada—Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Omaha, Cincinnati, Calgary, Detroit, at the Frick Collection and Merkin Hall in New York City, at The Clark in Williamstown, at Tanglewood and in Great Barrington, MA, as well as in Scottsdale, AZ. Summer performances have taken place at the New York State Museum, Basilica Hudson, Orpheum Theatre in Tannersville, and in the orchard at Olana. In its 10th year, the High Peaks Festival takes place in July-August at the Berkshire School in Sheffield, MA, as the educational mission of Close Encounters With Music with fifty international students in residence for an immersive course of study and performance.

Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani has led the series since its founding, providing entertaining, erudite commentary that puts the composers and their times in perspective to enrich and amplify the concert experience. His charismatic playing and profound interpretations bring him acclaim and re-engagements across the globe. Each concert is framed by an introduction before the music, and is followed by an AFTERGLOW reception with an opportunity to meet the musicians. Venues include the landmark Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center and the newly renovated Saint James Place in Great Barrington. To complement the musical offerings, two guest speakers, Musician and Analyst, Melinda Haas and Neurological Researcher, Concetta Tomaino are featured in the current Conversations With…series at the Seven Hills Inn and Edith Wharton’s The Mount in Lenox, MA. 

Photograph of the Borromeo Quartet

NOVEMBER 20, 2019

(Great Barrington, MA…) Anton Arensky’s Quartet in A Minor for two cellos, a personal tribute to his beloved friend Tchaikovsky, is considered one of the finest Russian string quartets ever written, with the second movement being a set of variations on a Tchaikovsky theme.  Meanwhile, in conversations across time, melodies ricochet from Beethoven to Arensky (as well as Mussorgsky, Rachmaninoff and Stravinsky) as Arensky paraphrases a celebratory Russian folk song associated with the coronation of the Tsar—used by Beethoven in his Quartet Op. 59 No. 2, one of the famous works commissioned by Count Razumovsky.  The quartet will be played by the charismatic Borromeo, hailed for its “edge-of-the-seat performances” by the Boston GlobeThe program also features J.S. Bach’s Four Preludes and Fugues from The Well Tempered Clavier, arranged for string quartet. Yehuda Hanani joins in Arensky’s best known work to enhance the remarkably rich, deeper sonorities of Russian liturgical chant.

The Borromeo String Quartet: Nicolas Kitchen, violin; Kristopher Tong, violin; Mai Motobuchi, viola; Yeesun Kim, cello, with Yehuda Hanani, cello

In the Close Encounters With Music tradition, each performance is followed by an AFTERGLOW reception, with hors d’oeuvres and wine provided by local restaurants.

TICKET INFORMATION
Tickets, $52 (Orchestra and Mezzanine), $28 (Balcony) and $15 for students at the door, are available at The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center box office, 413-528-0100, www.mahaiwe.org

ABOUT THE ARTISTS: 

Inspiring audiences for more than 25 years, The Borromeo String Quartet continues to be a pioneer in its use of technology, and has the distinction of being the first string quartet to utilize laptop computers on the concert stage. Reading music this way helps push artistic boundaries, allowing the artists to perform solely from 4-part scores and composers’ manuscripts, a revealing experience which they now teach to students around the world.  The BSQ has been ensemble-in-residence at the New England Conservatory and Taos School of Music, as well as at the Heifetz International Music Institute, where first violinist Nicholas Kitchen is Artistic Director. The quartet was also in residence at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum for more than two decades, where it continues to regularly appear, and has worked extensively as performers and educators with the Library of Congress (highlighting both its manuscripts and instrument collections) and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. The ensemble joined the Emerson Quartet as the 2014-15 Hittman Ensembles in Residence at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, and also recently was in residence at Colorado State University, Kansas University, and the San Francisco Conservatory. Their presentation of the cycle of Bartók String Quartets as well as its lecture “Bartok:  Paths Not Taken,” both of which give audiences a once-in-a-lifetime chance to hear a set of rediscovered alternate movements Béla Bartók drafted for his six Quartets, has received accolades. The Quartet has collaborated with some of this generation’s most important composers, including Gunther Schuller, John Cage, György Ligeti, Steve Reich, Aaron Jay Kernis, Osvaldo Golijov, Jennifer Higdon, Steve Mackey, John Harbison, Sebastian Currier, and Leon Kirchner, and has performed on major concert stages across the globe, including Carnegie Hall, the Berlin Philharmonie, Wigmore Hall, Suntory Hall (Tokyo), the Concertgebouw, Seoul Arts Center, Shanghai Oriental Arts Center, Prague Spring Festival, and the Haydn Festival in Eisenstadt. “Nothing less than masterful” (Cleveland.com), the Borromeo Quartet has received numerous awards, including Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Career Grant and Martin E. Segal Award, and Chamber Music America’s Cleveland Quartet Award

Yehuda Hanani’s charismatic cello playing and profound interpretations bring him acclaim and re-engagements around the globe. An extraordinary recitalist, he is equally renowned for performances with orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Berlin Radio Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, BBC Welsh Symphony, Buenos Aires Philharmonic, Honolulu Symphony, Jerusalem Symphony, Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, I Solisti Zagreb, and Taipei and Seoul symphonies, among others. He has been a guest at Aspen, Bowdoin, Chautauqua, Marlboro, Yale at Norfolk, Round Top (TX), Great Lakes, and Grand Canyon festivals, Finland Festival, Great Wall (China), Leicester (England), Ottawa, Prades (France), Oslo, and Australia Chamber Music festivals, and has collaborated in performances with preeminent fellow musicians, including Leon Fleisher, Aaron Copland, Christoph Eschenbach, David Robertson, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Itzhak Perlman, Julian Rachlin, Vadim Repin, Dawn Upshaw, Shlomo Mintz, Yefim Bronfman, Eliot Fisk, the Tokyo, Escher, Vermeer, Muir, Lark, Avalon and Manhattan quartets, as well as members of the Cleveland, Juilliard, Borromeo, and Emerson. In New York City, Yehuda Hanani has appeared as soloist at Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street Y, Alice Tully, The Frick, and at the Metropolitan Museum’s Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium. In addition to his pioneering recordings of Charles Valentin Alkan (for which he received a Grand Prix du Disque nomination), Nikolai Miaskovsky, Leo Ornstein, and Eduard Franck, he is one of the originators of thematic programming with commentary that engages and illuminates contemporary audiences. Professor of Cello at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory and past faculty member at the Peabody Conservatory, he will join the faculty at the Mannes School of Music in New York City in 2020.

“The sonatas came bounding to life in vital interpretations rich in imaginative detail and virile strength.  Mr. Hanani was rightly rewarded with cheers from the audience.” –The New York Times                “Soulful, fiery performance.” –The New York Times                                                                      

Close Encounters on the Radio/Podcast

Close Encounters With Music concerts are broadcast on WMHT-FM, and audiences are encouraged to tune in to the new weekly broadcasts of “Classical Music According to Yehuda” on WAMC Northeast Radio or visit www.wamc.org.

ABOUT CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH MUSIC

Close Encounters With Music stands at the intersection of music, art and the vast richness of Western culture. Entertaining, erudite and lively commentary from founder and Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani puts the composers and their times in perspective to enrich and enlighten the concert experience. Since the inception of its Commissioning Project in 2001, CEWM has worked with the most distinguished composers of our time—Joan Tower, Judith Zaimont, Lera Auerbach, Robert Beaser, Kenji Bunch, Osvaldo Golijov, John Musto, and Paul Schoenfield among others—to create important new works that have already taken their place in the chamber music canon and on CD. A core of brilliant performers includes: pianists, Roman Rabinovich, Soyeon Kate Lee, Inna Faliks, Max Levinson and Michael Chertock; violinists,Shmuel Ashkenasi, Vadim Gluzman, Julian Rachlin, Peter Zazofsky, Itamar Zorman and Hagai Shaham; clarinetists Alexander Fiterstein and Charles Neidich; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Jennifer Rivera, Danielle Talamantes and Kelley O’Connor; the Muir, Manhattan, Ariel, Vermeer, Escher, Avalon, Hugo Wolf, Dover string quartets; and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and guitarist Eliot Fisk. Choreographer David Parsons and actors Richard Chamberlain, Jane Alexander and Sigourney Weaver have also appeared as guests, weaving narration and dance into the fabric of the programs. Close Encounters With Music programs have been presented in cities across the U.S. and Canada—Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Omaha, Cincinnati, Calgary, Detroit, at the Frick Collection and Merkin Hall in New York City, at The Clark in Williamstown, at Tanglewood and in Great Barrington, MA, as well as in Scottsdale, AZ. Summer performances have taken place at the New York State Museum, Basilica Hudson, Orpheum Theatre in Tannersville, and in the orchard at Olana. In its 10th year, the High Peaks Festival takes place in July-August at the Berkshire School in Sheffield, MA, as the educational mission of Close Encounters With Music with fifty international students in residence for an immersive course of study and performance.

Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani has led the series since its founding, providing entertaining, erudite commentary that puts the composers and their times in perspective to enrich and amplify the concert experience. His charismatic playing and profound interpretations bring him acclaim and re-engagements across the globe. Each concert is framed by an introduction before the music, and is followed by an AFTERGLOW reception with an opportunity to meet the musicians. Venues include the landmark Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center and the newly renovated Saint James Place in Great Barrington. To complement the musical offerings, two guest speakers, Musician and Analyst, Melinda Haas and Neurological Researcher, Concetta Tomaino are featured in the current Conversations With…series at the Seven Hills Inn and Edith Wharton’s The Mount in Lenox, MA.