Roaring Twenties Flyer

The Roaring Twenties—Berlin, Paris, New York from the stage of the historic Mahaiwe theater in downtown Great Barrington, MA
December 12, 2021 at 4 PM

The cabaret beckons at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center Sunday, December 12 as Close Encounters With Music ushers in the holiday season in the Berkshires. In a performance that evokes the twenties of the last century—a time exemplified by Art Deco, Prohibition, the loosening of social restraints, Jazz, the Charleston and flappers—“Roaring Twenties” offers a panorama of composers and styles that defined and shaped the era: Gershwin, Kurt Weill, Alexander Zemlinsky, Hanns Eisler, Cole Porter, Poulenc, Schoenberg, and Erwin Schulhoff provide a bi-continental glimpse into a decade that still looms colorful, mythical and seductive in cultural history.

Soon to be banned in the thirties by the Third Reich, their brilliant, razor-sharp, wicked and enduring songs (“Bilbao”; “Speak Low”; “Makin’ Whoopee”; “Supply and Demand”; “’S Wonderful”) are part of the program featuring Entartete (degenerate, or Jewish, and then by definition undesirable) music, composers whose careers and lives were interrupted and irrevocably altered by the rise of Hitler. Under the new laws, the jazz and cabaret that had been embraced just a few years earlier were now viewed as decadent and posing a threat to European higher culture. The social, artistic, and cultural dynamism of this period ended abruptly with the stock market crash of 1929 and onset of the Great Depression and National Socialism but not before an eruption of creative frenzy in theater, film, art and music almost unparalleled in cultural history.

Wandering into the charged European pre-WWII landscape was also American composer Samuel Barber, whose works were inspired by his sojourn in Paris, as were those of Gershwin. The sonata for piano and cello is a sea of tranquility and emblematic of an isolationist America in an otherwise tempestuous political landscape. Hanns Eisler’s music got him twice ejected—initially from Germany for its subversiveness, and then from the US, for its political intent. Erwin Schulhoff, a European apostle of the new Jazz, died in a concentration camp. His Jazz Etudes for Piano, with movements titled Charleston, Blues, Chanson, Tango, and Toccata Sur le Shimmy “Kitten on the Keys” convey how fervently he internalized the edgy music of the day.

The program re-introduces an important but often neglected group of diverse composers whose works were suppressed during the Nazi era, along with those whose voices were silenced altogether, and places them and their works in context within 20th century music.

“The Roaring Twenties” performers are Heather Johnson, mezzo-soprano; Will Ferguson, tenor; Ieva Jokubaviciute, piano; and Yehuda Hanani, cello and artistic director. They bring to life the spirit of a music that was nearly destroyed. Hear the recovered voices, come to the cabaret!

Tickets, $52 (Orchestra and Mezzanine), $28 (Balcony) and $15 for students, are available through the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center box office, 413-528-0100 and mahaiwe.org. Subscriptions are $250 ($225 for seniors) for the series of 7 concerts (a 35% savings!). Season subscriptions are available through Close Encounters With Music – cewm.org.

THE ARTISTS

Lithuanian pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute’s powerfully and intricately crafted performances have earned her critical accolades throughout North America and Europe. She made her orchestral debuts with the Chicago Symphony and her piano trio—Trio Cavatina—won the 2009 Naumburg International Chamber Music Competition. Her recording of Czech composers “Returning Paths: Solo Piano Works by Janacek and Suk” was also released to critical acclaim. She has partnered with violinist Midori, with recitals in Canada, at the Cartagena International Music Festival in Colombia, Germany, Austria, Japan, Poland, Peru, Mexico, India, and Sri Lanka. Jokubaviciute’s latest piano solo recording “Northscapes,” works by Kaja Saariaho and Anna Thorvaldsdottir, is due to be released this year. Appearances at international festivals include Marlboro, Ravinia, Bard, Caramoor Prussia Cove in England, Schleswig-Holstein Festival in Germany, festivals in Finland, and Music in the Vineyards in the Napa Valley.

Mezzo-soprano Heather Johnson, hailed by Opera News as “a dramatic singer in the truest sense,” has received critical acclaim for her work both on the opera and concert stage. Recent engagements include Jan Arnold in Everest with Austin Opera, Despina in Cosi fan Tutte with Mill City Summer Opera, Dinah in Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti with Boston Lyric Opera, Laura in Luisa Miller at the Metropolitan Opera, and La Speranza in the U.S. stage premiere of Respighi’s realization of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo with Chautauqua Opera. Also, the title role in Rossini’s Tancredi with Baltimore Concert Opera and Opera Southwest, Jo in Adamo’s Little Women with Madison Opera, Baba the Turk in The Rake’s Progress and the title role of Lizzie Borden both with Boston Lyric Opera. In 2012, Ms. Johnson made her house debut at the Metropolitan Opera as a Flower Maiden in Parsifal. She performed in the world premieres of The Long Walk by Jeremy Howard Beck with Opera Saratoga, Mark Adamo’s Becoming Santa Claus with The Dallas Opera, and Fierce Grace: Jeannette Rankin, a song cycle commissioned by OPERA America and performed at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Acclaimed for his versatility in both opera and concert, William Ferguson made his debut with the Santa Fe Opera in 2006 as Caliban in the North American premiere of Thomas Adès’ The Tempest. He soon joined the roster of The Metropolitan Opera where he has performed Beppe in I Pagliacci as well as roles in Le Nozze di Figaro and The Magic Flute. He was also a regular artist at The New York City Opera. Additional credits include Wozzeck with Opera Festival of New Jersey, Così fan tutte at Aspen, Turandot with Opera Company of Philadelphia, Pirates of Penzance with Virginia Opera and Opera Omaha, the title role in Albert Herring at The Music Academy of the West, L’Heure Espagnole and Falstaff at the Tanglewood Music Center, and Peter Quint in The Turn of the Screw at Chautauqua. Mr. Ferguson has appeared with the American Symphony Orchestra, BBC Orchestra (London), Boston Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (England), Handel and Haydn Society, and the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, among others.

Cellist Yehuda Hanani is founder and artistic director of Close Encounters With Music. His engaging chamber music with commentary has captivated audiences from Miami to Kansas City, Omaha, Calgary, Scottsdale, the Berkshires, and at the Frick Collection in New York City. A three-time recipient of the Martha Baird Rockefeller grant and a nominee for Grand Prix du Disque for his pioneering recording of Alkan, he appears with orchestras and on the recital stage on five continents. Mr. Hanani is one of the illustrious cellists of today, has appeared with musical luminaries—Aaron Copland, Andre Kostelanetz, Dawn Upshaw, David Robertson, Itzhak Perlman, Leon Fleisher—since his career was launched; and is a prolific recording artist and an innovator in reshaping concert programs to include original, illuminating commentary. He has been the subject of hundreds of articles and interviews in the media, and his weekly program on NPR affiliate station WAMC Northeast Radio, “Classical Music According to Yehuda” attracted thousands of fans. Professor of Cello at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music for three decades, he is on the faculty of Mannes College in New York City and directs the Berkshire High Peaks Festival each summer.

“Life Is A Cabaret,” an essay in the season’s playbill by Richard Houdek, traces the movements, trends and personalities during the era variously known as the “Jazz Age” and the “Roaring Twenties.”

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 the concert experience. Since the inception of its Commissioning Project in 2001, CEWM has worked with the most distinguished composers of our time—Paul Schoenfield, Osvaldo Golijov, Thea Musgrave, Lera Auerbach, Jorge Martin, John Musto, among others—to create over 20 important new works that have already taken their place in the chamber music canon and on CD. A core of brilliant performers includes pianists Max Levinson, Roman Rabinovich, and William Wolfram; violinists Shmuel Ashkenasi, Cho-Liang Lin, Vadim Gluzman and clarinetists Alexander Fiterstein, Charles Neidich; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Emily Marvosh and William Sharp; the Escher, Amernet, Muir, Manhattan, Dover, Avalon quartets, and Cuarteto Latinoamericano; 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.

HOW TO REACH US

Close Encounters With Music
Post Office Box 34
Great Barrington, MA 01230

CEWM: 800.843.0778
Web: www.cewm.org
Email: [email protected]

The PRISM Quartet

Saturday, September 18, 2021, 5 PM

http://www.cewm.org/

Close Encounters With Music presents, in collaboration with TurnPark Art Space: The PRISM Quartet’s popular program, Hit Parade, features a cross-section of traditional and contemporary music. New works reflect the enormous range of cultural and aesthetic influences on today’s composers. Praised by The Philadelphia Inquirer for its ability to “move effortlessly between styles,” the program includes two stunningly beautiful sets of adaptations: Schumann Bouquet, selections from Robert Schumann’s Album for the Young, arranged for the PRISM Quartet by the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer William Bolcom; and selected movements from Italian composer Salvatore Sciarrino’s Pagine (Pages), a book of adaptations of works by J. S. Bach, Domenico Scarlatti, George Gershwin, Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa, and more.

Admission $25. Attendance is limited to 100. Reserve your spot  HERE.

ABOUT PRISM:

Intriguing programs of great beauty and breadth have distinguished the PRISM Quartet as one of America’s foremost chamber ensembles. “A bold ensemble that set the standard for contemporary-classical saxophone quartets” (The New York Times), PRISM has been presented by Carnegie Hall, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and throughout Latin America, China, and Russia under the auspices of USIA and USArtists International. PRISM has also appeared as soloists with the Detroit Symphony and Cleveland Orchestra, and conducted residencies at the nation’s leading conservatories, including the Curtis Institute and the Oberlin Conservatory. Two-time recipients of the Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, PRISM has commissioned nearly 300 works by eminent composers, including Pulitzer Prize-winners Julia Wolfe, William Bolcom, Jennifer Higdon, Zhou Long, and Bernard Rands; MacArthur “Genius” Award recipients Tyshawn Sorey, Bright Sheng, and Miguel Zenón. PRISM’s discography is extensive, with releases on Albany, BMOP/Sound, ECM, innova, Koch, Naxos, New Dynamic, New Focus, Orange Mountain Music, and its own label, XAS Records. The Fifth Century, PRISM’s ECM recording with The Crossing, was awarded a 2018 Grammy for Best Choral Performance.

PRISM musicians: Timothy McAllister, Taimur Sullivan, Matthew Levy, Zachary Shemon

Close Encounters With Music offered a series of virtual programs starting last July to keep the music going through out the pandemic. The decision was made to present the Berkshire High Peaks Festival virtually for the first time ever in Summer 2020, 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 April concerts that followed (“The French Connection,” A Night at the Opera,” Debussy and Brahms with the Escher Quartet, “Forever Bach – the Cello Suites,” Sebastians Baroque Ensemble) remain available for viewing on cewm.org, mahaiwe.org, and both organizations’ YouTube channels, and have collected thousands of views.

Two magical outdoor programs titled “Wine & Song,” took place on May 23 and June 13 at Edith Wharton’s The Mount in Lenox featuring vocalists Emily Marvosh, Sonja Tengblad, pianist Joseph Turbessi and the a cappella jazz ensemble West Side Five.

“The September 18 partnership with TurnPark Art Space is a wonderful transition from summer outdoors to indoor spaces this autumn. We are hopeful that we can begin a gradual return to concert presentation as we know it in on November 21—in person, and with a live audience at the Mahaiwe—with a rousing celebratory program postponed from June of 2020,” says artistic director Yehuda Hanani. “We look forward to welcoming everyone to scenic TurnPark, followed by our Great Reopening at the Mahaiwe!” 

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.  The Berkshire High Peaks Festival takes place each July at Berkshire School in Sheffield, Mass., as the educational initiative of Close Encounters With Music with fifty international students in residence for an immersive course of study and performance.

ABOUT TURNPARK ART SPACE

TurnPark Art Space combines a sculpture park, exhibition venues, and a stone amphitheater for outdoor performances. Conceived and founded by Igor Gomberg and Katya Brezgunova as an art space and a place for exploration for both children and adults, the park showcases contemporary architecture and sculpture at the foot of the Berkshire Mountains. Situated on 16-acres of a former quarry in the town of West Stockbridge, Massachusetts, TurnPark Art Space boasts a unique and diverse landscape. There are hills, meadows, a lake, and a 65-foot vertical drop offering breath-taking views of the surrounding landscape.

HOW TO REACH US

Close Encounters With Music

Post Office Box 34

Great Barrington, MA 01230

800.843.0778

Web: www.cewm.org

CEWM e-mail: [email protected]  

If you don’t already, please follow us on social media! We work to keep our posts informative and inspiring. 

  Facebook: @closeencounterswithmusic Instagram: @closeencounterswithmusic Twitter:      @CEWMusic
End of Summer Celebration Flyer

Saturday, September 18, 2021, 12-4 PM

http://www.cewm.org/

Please join Close Encounters With Music for an End-of-Summer Celebration and Auction. You will enjoy beautiful vistas, a scrumptious lunch, an appearance by the PRISM quartet (saxophones). and an auction of exciting items to bid on, including:

– Dinner for two at Cafe Boulud at Blantyre

– A consultation with a master gardener to design, improve, and plan your garden

– Performance for you and your guests by the Berkshire Jazz Collective

– Works by painters, ceramists and photographers Paul Chaleff, Arthur Yanoff, Kenro and Yumiko Izu, Hans Heuberger, and more

–A “care package” from Jane Iredale Cosmetics

–Conversations with fascinating writers, thinkers, scientists, including Wall Street Journal columnist and author Lance Morrow and Nobel Prize winner Joachim Frank

The event is to support Close Encounters With Music’s programs in 2021-2022, a season that features the Gold Medalist of the recent Van Cliburn Competition; first oboist of the New York Philharmonic; Cuban dancer Irene Rodriguez in a  Spanish and Latin American evening; a rescheduled world premiere of a newly commissioned piece; “Roaring Twenties: Paris, Berlin, New York” with vocalists William Ferguson and Blythe Gaissert; the a cappella vocalists Skylark; guitarist Eliot Fisk in “Folk and Baroque” as well as many returning favorite performers and beloved chamber music works.  

PRISM Saxophones will perform in a tent.  Event address will be given upon purchase of tickets. Tickets are $80.00 and can be purchased HERE.

Intriguing programs of great beauty and breadth have distinguished the PRISM Quartet as one of America’s foremost chamber ensembles. “A bold ensemble that set the standard for contemporary-classical saxophone quartets” (The New York Times), PRISM has been presented by Carnegie Hall, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and throughout Latin America, China, and Russia under the auspices of USIA and USArtists International. PRISM has also appeared as soloists with the Detroit Symphony and Cleveland Orchestra, and conducted residencies at the nation’s leading conservatories, including the Curtis Institute and the Oberlin Conservatory. Two-time recipients of the Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, PRISM has commissioned nearly 300 works by eminent composers, including Pulitzer Prize-winners Julia Wolfe, William Bolcom, Jennifer Higdon, Zhou Long, and Bernard Rands; MacArthur “Genius” Award recipients Tyshawn Sorey, Bright Sheng, and Miguel Zenón; and US Artists Fellow Susie Ibarra. PRISM’s discography is extensive, with releases on Albany, BMOP/Sound, ECM, innova, Koch, Naxos, New Dynamic, New Focus, Orange Mountain Music, and its own label, XAS Records. The Fifth Century, PRISM’s ECM recording with The Crossing, was awarded a 2018 Grammy for Best Choral Performance.

Close Encounters With Music offered a series of virtual programs starting last July to keep the music going through out the pandemic. The decision was made to present the Berkshire High Peaks Festival virtually for the first time ever in Summer 2020, 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 April concerts that followed (“The French Connection,” A Night at the Opera,” Debussy and Brahms with the Escher Quartet, “Forever Bach – the Cello Suites,” Sebastians Baroque Ensemble) remain available for viewing on cewm.org, mahaiwe.org, and both organizations’ YouTube channels, and have collected thousands of views.

Two magical outdoor programs titled “Wine & Song,” took place on May 23 and June 13 at Edith Wharton’s The Mount in Lenox featuring vocalists Emily Marvosh, Sonja Tengblad, pianist Joseph Turbessi and the a cappella jazz ensemble West Side Five.

“We are hopeful that we can begin a gradual return to concert presentation as we know it on November 21—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, hip hop artist, two cellos and children’s chorus.  We look forward to welcoming everyone to the Great Reopening!” 

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.  The Berkshire High Peaks Festival takes place each July at Berkshire School in Sheffield, Mass., as the educational initiative of Close Encounters With Music with fifty international students in residence for an immersive course of study and performance.

HOW TO REACH US

Close Encounters With Music

Post Office Box 34

Great Barrington, MA 01230

800.843.0778

Web: www.cewm.org

CEWM e-mail: [email protected]  

If you don’t already, please follow us on social media! We work to keep our posts informative and inspiring. 

  Facebook: @closeencounterswithmusic Instagram: @closeencounterswithmusic Twitter:      @CEWMusic
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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.